The side effects of Ambien, a popular drug taken for insomnia, could lead to tragedy.
While Ambien commercials present a mild and hopeful vision of a gentle sleep aid, (after all the woman looks so rested the next morning!) the reality of this drug’s side effects would have most people looking for any natural alternative.
Besides the risk of addiction (most likely in someone who has a history of drug and alcohol dependency) the side effects of Ambien can include sleep walking, driving, eating, and talking on the phone. Any of these (and other activities besides) would not be remembered the next day.
According to the FDA, the Ambien user may experience:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Memory loss
About a year ago the FDA warned the public that zolpidem (marketed under the brand names Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar and Zolpimist) may cause impaired activities the morning after use, since blood levels of the drug may still be high.
A person driving while still under the influence of this drug could be drowsy enough to cause an accident. Someone operating heavy equipment may be putting himself and others at risk.
And this side effect may be present without the Ambien user being aware of it. Women, who eliminate zolpidem from their bodies at a slower rate than men are especially vulnerable.
According to the FDA report, “Patients who take insomnia drugs can experience impairment of mental alertness the morning after use, even if they feel fully awake.”
In light of this information, the FDA required manufacturers of zolpidem products to lower the recommended dosage.
Even more horrifying, a study done in February 2012 linked Ambien and other popular sleep aides to a nearly five-fold risk of an early death.
In a study done by researchers at Scripps Health (a nonprofit health system from San Diego) sleeping pill use may have been involved in up to 500,000 deaths in the USA alone. And the risk involves even “light users.” Even people who took less than 2 pills monthly were at a three times higher risk of early death.
Robert Langer, one of the study’s authors, remarked “Since we started trying to qualify the results of this analysis about a year ago, I’ll tell you, my prescription bottle for Ambien has sat on the shelf unopened.”
Since early death now qualifies as a side effect of Ambien, one might think that sleeping pill use may have declined. However, as many as 10% of American adults use them, even if only occasionally.
Using this drug for more than four weeks can lead to addiction. And Ambien and similar drugs can actually create a worse state of insomnia than the one that prompted purchasing the drug in the first place.
When a person stops taking Ambien, he or she should seek medical advice. The brain’s activity has been slowed by this hypnotic, and can rebound, racing out of control when the drug is stopped. This can cause seizures.
It is hard to imagine anyone taking this or similar drugs in view of these studies. And natural aids to insomnia have worked for many, such as:
- Sleep in complete darkness
- Keep your bedroom between 60 and 68 degrees
- Avoid before bedtime snacks
- Take a hot bath before bed
There are many, many more suggestions that may help you sleep. It takes a bit of internet research, but finding a natural way to help one sleep and avoiding side effects of Ambien and similar drugs would be well worth the time spent.