Ambien CR

by on May 1, 2012

Ambien CR is the extended-release form of Ambien (zolpidem tartrate). It is a sedative or hypnotic drug that is used in the treatment of patients with insomnia characterized by difficulties getting sleep and/or maintaining sleep. This medication is intended as a short-term treatment for sleeping problems, usually less than 2 weeks. Most sleep problems resolve after two weeks. Take note, however, that people can experience sleeping problems at some point in their life. Do not take this medication without recommendation of your healthcare provider.

Ambien CR is a prescription medicine that is marketed both as a brand-name drug as well as a generic drug. It is available in tablet form (6.25 mg and 12.5 mg). The usual adult dose of Ambien CR is 12.5 mg once a day taken right before going into bed. Some patients, particularly those with special needs (elderly, debilitated patients and patients with liver problems) may be given a lower dose usually 6.25 mg once a day taken immediately before bedtime.

How does Ambien CR work?

Ambien CR works on the central nervous system, particularly the brain. It is thought that Ambien CR affects certain chemicals in the brain resulting in a calming, relaxing effect.

Compared with the immediate-release formulation of Ambien, the extended-release formulation comes with a specialized multi-layer cover that allows it to dissolve slowly. This results in a dual action --causing immediate sleep and keeping you asleep through the night. Ambien CR is recommended in people who have trouble initiating and maintaining sleep or those who get frequently while sleeping.

Important Things To Remember

  • Do not take this medication right after meals or immediately after meals. Wait for several hours after meals before taking this medication.
  • Take Ambien CR only if you can stay in bed for a full night’s sleep (7 to 8 hours). Do not attempt to drive or to perform any hazardous work after taking Ambien CR.
  • It must be taken whole together with a full glass of water. Do not crush, chew, divide or remove the cover to avoid rapid drug metabolism and absorption.
  • Do not stop taking this drug abruptly without your healthcare provider’s recommendation. Ambien CR can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Do not take more than prescribe or longer than recommended. Ambien CR is at increased risk for abuse and dependence.
  • Do not drink alcohol along with this medication. Caution must be taken when using this drug with other anti-depressant medications or other sleeping aids.
  • Discuss with you healthcare provider any other medications that you currently take. Avoid taking over-the-counter medications to prevent drug interactions.
  • Monitor for side effects that include depression, drowsiness, headache and unusual thinking such as aggression, anxiety, risk-taking and self-injury. Contact your healthcare provider if side effects get worse.
  • Caution must be taken when using this drug on pregnant and breastfeeding patients. Pediatric use is not recommended.