What is Ambien?
Ambien is a short-term (7- to 10-day) prescription sleep aid for
people who have difficulty falling asleep, have trouble remaining
asleep, or awaken too early in the morning. Ambien helps restore your
quality of sleep. It was introduced in Europe in 1988, and in the
United States five years later. To date, more than 4 billion doses of
Ambien have been prescribed worldwide.
Does Ambien work?
Ambien helps people suffering from insomnia fall asleep within 15
to 30 minutes. Ambien should only be taken when you are ready to go to
sleep. Further, Ambien helps you stay asleep and not wake up too early.
Avoid taking Ambien unless you are prepared to devote a full 7 to 8
hours to sleeping.
What are the most common side effects?
Most commonly, with short-term Ambien treatment in controlled
clinical studies, the side effects have been daytime drowsiness in 2%,
dizziness 1%, and diarrhea 1%. Avoid driving an automobile or operating
heavy machinery upon awakening after taking any sleep medication until
you know how it will affect your physical or mental performance. Do not
drink alcohol while taking Ambien.
Will I feel drowsy the next day?
Generally, you won't have to sacrifice next-day performance for a
good night's sleep with Ambien. A study of about 500 volunteers with
insomnia who were given alertness tests the morning after taking Ambien
found that they performed just as well as people who were given a
placebo. In short-term clinical trials, only 2% of people taking Ambien
reported feeling sleepy during the daytime. Taking Ambien as directed
will minimize the risk of next-day drowsiness. Regarding elderly
patients, one study reported a small but statistically significant
decrease in performance in a test of dexterity when compared with a
Can I take Ambien if I'm also taking other medications?
Some medications, even those available without prescription, can
interfere with or amplify the effect of Ambien. Before taking any other
drug, consult with your doctor or pharmacist about possible
interactions with Ambien. Avoid alcohol while taking Ambien.
Can I take Ambien if I'm pregnant?
Studies to assess the effects of Ambien on human reproduction and
development have not been conducted and therefore use of Ambien during
pregnancy is not recommended. It should be considered ONLY if your
physician determines it is needed. Sleep medicines can cause sedation
of the unborn baby when used during the final weeks of pregnancy. Be
sure to inform your doctor if you are pregnant, if you are planning a
pregnancy or if you become pregnant while taking sleep medicines.
I'm an older adult who has insomnia. Will Ambien work for me?
Yes, Ambien is an effective short-term treatment for insomnia in older
adults and the elderly. However, your sensitivity to the actions of
drugs such as Ambien may be greater, so a lower dose should be
considered to decrease the possibility of negative side effects.
How long can I safely take Ambien?
Ambien, like most other sleep medicines, is most often initially
prescribed for 7-10 days as needed. Your doctor will advise you if it
is suitable to take it for a longer period of time.
Is there anything special that my doctor should know before
Ambien is prescribed for me?
Some conditions may affect how you take Ambien. Be sure to tell
your doctor if:
- You drink alcohol
- You have a history of alcohol or drug dependency
- You are pregnant or breast-feeding
- You have any breathing difficulties, such as asthma, bronchitis,
emphysema You have a history of heavy snoring
- You are suffering from depression
- You have kidney or liver disease