Ambien sleeping pill / Ambien CR is a pharmaceutical product containing Zolpidem (a prescription medicine used for inducing and maintaining sleep for the patients suffering from troubled sleeping / insomnia). Zolpidem is a sedative drug, which upon ingestion, induces sleepiness by activating the nerve transmissions that reduces the activity of brain. This helps the patient fall sleep quickly.
This prescription drug is available in two forms; as simple tablets (Ambien) and extended release tablets with increased duration of action (Ambien CR). Both the forms are available in two strengths: 5 mg and 10 mg for Ambien; and 6.25 mg and 12.5 mg for Ambien CR.
Who Are Ambien Sleeping Pills Prescribed For?
Patients having difficulty in actually falling asleep can use the Ambien sleeping pill if the condition is reoccurring. Patients experiencing disturbances in their sleep or consistently waking up during night can use Ambien CR. Ambien CR is programmed to provide immediate effect to induce sleep. It also continues to release Zolpidem for around 3-4 hours decreasing the disturbances to maintain their sleeping state throughout the evening.
What Are The Ambien Dosage Recommendations?
Upon ingestion both types of Ambien work immediately and should be consumed right before going to bed. The strength to be used is decided by the doctor depending on the severity of the sleeping problem.
Generally for adult patients:
- Recommended Ambien Dosage is 10 mg
- Recommended Ambien CR Dosage is 12.5 mg
Females generally require lower dosage compared to men because metabolism of Zolpidem is slower in females.
*Ambien Dosage For Elderly patients is half the dose of adults
That is the reason why recently (on January 10th, 2013) the FDA has reduced the recommended initial dose of Zolpidem to half.
Ambien sleeping pills and Ambien CR are recommended to be used only for short time (4-5 weeks). Safety of long term use has still not been established.
Ambien Sleeping Pills Side effects
Most common Ambien side effects are drowsiness, headache and decreased alertness in the early hours after waking up. For some patients, drowsiness may last for hours which may lead to driving impairment and accidents.
Patients are advised to avoid using vehicles or machine that requires complete alertness till they have gained complete wakefulness.
It is also recommended to have a friend or family member around during the initial use of Ambien just in case the user sleepwalks or does other unusual activities under the influence of Ambien (In some cases users have been reported to wake up and drive in the middle of the night under the influence of the drug). It may also lead to behavioral changes including hallucinations and mood swings which may lead to depressive disorders.
Abuse Of These Prescription Sleeping Pills Over Time
As with the most of the medications working on the central nervous system (brain), Ambien and Ambien CR also have the potential for abuse. The body will become more tolerant and a higher dose is required. Patients will and do build more tolerance to Ambien. Gradually the patient may develop an Ambien addiction and over time they may not be able to sleep without it.
Ambien: Dependency & Withdrawal
Over time the body will become used to or tolerant of Zolpidem. If, medicine is suddenly stopped, body may react aggressively leading to withdrawal syndrome. Remember that this drug should not be stopped abruptly.
How To Come Off Ambien?
Abrupt stoppage or rapid reduction in Ambien dosage may increase the sleep disturbances or sleeplessness (called Ambien withdrawal) from the sudden reduction of the Zolpidem in the body. Dosage should be tapered down slowly under the guidance of the physician who prescribed it.
Overall, Ambien sleeping medication is satisfactory for patients suffering from insomnia but it is not without any drawbacks. But when looking at the Ambien side effects and the Ambian abuse potential, it should be used only when sleep disturbances have started to seriously affect the every day life of the patient.