Ambien Side Effects

by on December 25, 2011

The most common side effects of Ambien are very mild and include daytime drowsiness, vivid dreams and headache. Serious side effects occur very rarely and may include extreme depression, loss of inhibition, aggression and hallucinations.

Common Ambien Side Effects

Like many medications, Ambien/Ambien CR brings with it some side effects that patients should be aware of before and during treatment. Some of the most common side effects of Ambien include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Forgetfulness
  • Vivid dreams
  • Nausea

In many cases, these side effects resolve on their own during treatment with the medication. People taking Ambien should report these side effects to their physicians if they persist or become especially bothersome. These mild side effects can often be reduced by adjusting the Ambien dosage, but in some cases they do not improve and patients must decide whether the benefits of the medication outweigh the milder side effects it causes.

Serious Ambien Side Effects

Ambien (zolpidem) has been reported to cause some very serious side effects that can be life threatening. These side effects include:

  • Binge eating, driving, or sexual activity while sleeping with no recollection of the events the next morning
  • Serious changes in mental perception
  • Suicidal thoughts or fears
  • Severe aggression
  • Frequent sleepwalking
  • Allergic reactions and anaphalaxis.

People who experience any of these side effects should stop taking Ambien and consult with a physician immediately. In the rare event of a severe allergic reaction, patients are encouraged to seek immediate medical treatment and call for paramedics.

Bizarre Ambien Side Effects

Some people have reported increased incidences of sleepwalking while taking Ambien/Ambein CR. Sometimes, this sleepwalking can result in bizarre behaviors that the patient cannot remember when they wake. People have reported binge eating, driving while asleep, and even sexual encounters that occur in a dream-like state.

Although these side effects are relatively rare, they are very serious and even life threatening. Patients can reduce the incidence of these side effects by ensuring they have seven or eight hours to dedicate to sleeping after they take Ambien. Patients should never take Ambien during their waking hours. If these side effects occur, patients should stop taking the medication.

Long Term use of Ambien

Although most patients will not require the use of Ambien for more than four or five weeks, some patients will experience chronic insomnia due to other necessary medications or certain health conditions. In cases like these, doctors may choose to prescribe their patients Ambien or zolpidem for long-term use.

Patients who take Ambien for longer than a few weeks are at an increased risk for serious Ambien side effects including loss of inhibition and marked personality changes. Many physicians require follow-up visits in order to catch the onset of such side effects early and treat them as necessary; patients are also urged not to stop taking Ambien without their physician’s approval.

Alternatives to Ambien

Although many people will not experience any side effects while on Ambien, others may find that the side effects simply do not justify their need for the medication. In this case, patients are encouraged to seek alternate sleep aids.

There are many over-the-counter medications that can help people fall asleep gently and safely; some manufacturers have even developed extended-release formulations that can help people stay asleep throughout the night. Herbal supplements like Valerian root and melatonin are also great alternatives to Ambien and they have very few side effects.

Ambien is a wonderful medication for people who experience intermittent insomnia or the inability to stay asleep for more than a few hours at a time. People should fully understand all of the potential interactions and side effects of Ambien before taking the medication.