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Zolpidem

Zolpidem, also known as ambien, is a medication mainly used to treat sleeping disorders (insomnia) as a short-term therapy.

Zolpidem is a sleeping pill given to patients who have difficulty falling or staying asleep. It is a non-benzodiazepine drug that comes under the class of sedatives and hypnotics.

Zolpidem is sold under a prescription only as it has a risk of physical dependence and abuse. If you have a history of drug abuse or addiction, zolpidem should be taken cautiously. Zolpidem is taken as needed. In this article, we have covered everything you need to know about zolpidem.

What Is Zolpidem Used For?

Zolpidem is used for:

  • Insomnia (sleeping difficulties)

How Does Zolpidem Work? Mechanism Of Action

Zolpidem is a GABA receptor agonist that increases the effect of GABA in the central nervous system.

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter (chemical) in our brain that initiates a calming effect, helping to fall asleep.

Zolpidem improves sleep in patients having insomnia, decreases the time to fall asleep, and reduces the number of awakenings during sleep.

Zolpidem is given as a short-term treatment for insomnia to patients who have difficulty in sleep initiation. It slows the activity of the brain, assisting in sleep.

How effective is Zolpidem?

Zolpidem is effective as a short-term treatment for insomnia. Your doctor may start with a low dose and gradually increase your dose based on the effectiveness of this drug and your body’s response to zolpidem.

How should I take Zolpidem?

  • Take zolpidem as prescribed or recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Swallow the zolpidem tablet as a whole with a full glass of water. Do not crush, chew, break, or dissolve the tablet.
  • Take zolpidem immediately before going to bed. If you are not willing to take a full night’s sleep (7 to 8 hours) or have to walk up earlier due to any reason, do not take zolpidem. It will cause side effects like sedation, dizziness, and drowsiness that will interfere with your tasks.
  • You can take zolpidem with or without food. Do not take zolpidem on an empty stomach if you experience nausea or GIT disturbances. However, zolpidem works faster if taken without meals.
  • Do not take zolpidem after or before drinking alcohol. Try to avoid alcohol during zolpidem therapy.
  • The use of zolpidem in children is not recommended.
  • Use zolpidem only as needed and when you are facing severe difficulty sleeping. Do not make a schedule or daily habit of taking zolpidem every night. If you are able to sleep without it, don’t take zolpidem.
  • If you have been prescribed zolpidem sublingual tablets, place the whole tablet under your tongue. Wait for 2 minutes to let it dissolve. Swallow the dissolved tablet.

Zolpidem Dosage Form And Strengths

Zolpidem is prescribed as immediate-release tablets, sublingual tablets, extended-release tablets or oral spray, depending on some factors like:

  • Your age
  • The severity of your disease
  • Your disease history

What Dose of Zolpidem Should I Take?

Take the dose of zolpidem as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist, as the dose can differ for each patient depending on their medical history, current medical condition, and age.

The standard dose of zolpidem includes:

  • The dose for extended-release zolpidem tablets is 6.25 mg once daily at bedtime. Only one dose at night should be taken.
  • The dose for oral zolpidem tablets is 5 to 10 mg once daily at night. Do not increase the dose above 10 mg per day. Do not take more than one dose of zolpidem at night.
  • The dose for zolpidem sublingual tablets is 1.75 mg once daily at night before bedtime.

Why Is Zolpidem Considered A Good Treatment For Insomnia?

Zolpidem is considered a good treatment for insomnia as the drug specifically treats sleeping difficulties. It calms the brain by promoting the effect of GABA, helps you fall asleep quickly, and decreases awakenings in the middle of the night. Zolpidem increases your sleep time and eases the quality of sleep.

What Are The Side Effects Of Zolpidem?

The common side effects of zolpidem include:

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Metallic taste
  • Nausea
  • Feeling sleepy in daytime
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Stomach pain and gas
  • Heartburn
  • Burning, tingling, or numbness in the hands, arms, legs, or feet.

The severe side effects of zolpidem include:

  • Rash, itching, and hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Swelling in the body, especially in the face, tongue, or throat.
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Confusion and agitation
  • Anxiety

How To Manage Zolpidem Side Effects?

The common side effects of zolpidem go away with time. So, you don’t need to worry about them as they usually occur. However, if they persist or become intolerable, consult your pharmacist to switch your medication.

The side effects of zolpidem vary from patient to patient. Here are some tips for managing the common side effects of zolpidem:

  • For managing GIT disturbance or nausea with zolpidem, use the drug during or before a meal.
  • Do not engage in any mentality exerting activity after taking zolpidem. Take sleep as the drug causes dizziness and drowsiness. Engaging in mentally exerting activities will increase the side effect of drowsiness.
  • Do not take zolpidem if you have been allergic to this drug.
  • Drink plenty of fluids for managing constipation and GIT disturbances.
  • If zolpidem affects your mental health, consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
  • Take zolpidem only when you face difficulty in sleeping at night.
  • Avoid or limit taking caffeine when you are on zolpidem therapy.

Alternative Treatment Options For Insomnia

Most people tolerate zolpidem. But if you face unusual side effects or are allergic to zolpidem, there are alternative treatment options for relieving insomnia.

The alternative treatment options to zolpidem include:

  • Diphenhydramine: This is an antihistamine. Antihistamine drugs have sedative actions that are helpful for relieving insomnia.
  • Doxylamine: Doxylamine is another sedative antihistamine.
  • Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that helps to control the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Xanax: Xanax (Alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine drug used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia.
  • Diazepam: Diazepam is another benzodiazepine drug used for insomnia and anxiety.

Who Should Not Take Zolpidem?

Zolpidem is a risky drug for patients who have:

  • Alcohol intoxication
  • Drug abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Liver disorder or liver failure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Complex sleep behaviors

If you have any of the above conditions, inform your doctor or pharmacist before taking zolpidem.

Can I Buy Zolpidem Online?

You can buy zolpidem online if you have a prescription. Zolpidem is a prescription-based drug and is sold only under a prescription. If your nearby pharmacy delivers zolpidem online and you have a prescription for it, you can order zolpidem online. The pharmacy will evaluate your prescription and deliver the drug safely to your home.

FAQs

When should I take Zolpidem?

Zolpidem should be taken only at night before sleeping. Take zolpidem if clearly needed.

How long does it take for Zolpidem to work?

It takes around 30 minutes to 1 hour for zolpidem to work.

Can I take Zolpidem while pregnant?

Zolpidem is regarded as an FDA pregnancy category C drug. This means studies in animals have shown fetal harm in pregnancy. Hence, you can use zolpidem while pregnant if clearly needed, or its benefits outweigh its risk.

 Can I drive after taking Zolpidem?

No. Zolpidem is a sedating drug, and taking it after driving carries the risk of serious accidents and injuries. You can take zolpidem only before bedtime when you face difficulty in sleeping. Moreover, in some countries, driving after taking zolpidem is an illegal act

How long can I take Zolpidem?

Zolpidem is commonly prescribed for short-term treatment at around 4 weeks or less. In most cases, zolpidem is not given for more than 2 weeks.

 Zolpidem is given on an as-needed basis. Hence, in the middle of your treatment, if you don’t feel the need to take zolpidem at night, it is not necessary to take the drug.

Does long-term use of Zolpidem have adverse effects on my health?

Yes. Taking zolpidem for the long term increases the risk of physical and psychological dependence and abuse. It is recommended not to take zolpidem longer than 2 to 4 weeks or other than needed. Hence, do not take a larger dose of zolpidem more often than required or longer than prescribed to avoid adverse effects on your health.

Conclusion

Zolpidem, sold under the brand name ambien, is a sedative-hypnotic drug used to treat insomnia (sleeping difficulties). It calms and slows the activity of your brain to help with insomnia. Zolpidem lets you fall asleep faster and decreases the number of awakenings during sleep.

Zolpidem should be taken on an empty stomach to achieve a faster response. But if you face GIT disturbances or nausea with the medication, you can take zolpidem with a non-fatty meal.

The drug should be taken if needed and not on a scheduled basis. Zolpidem is prescribed not more than 2 weeks in most cases as it has the potential for physical and psychological dependence and abuse.