Ambien side effects have been the topic of everything from YouTube videos to network news, but most of these are related to wandering and amnesia as behavioral side effects experienced while taking ambien.  These ambien side effects are much more common if you take ambien and do not go directly to bed.  Learn more about this and other ambien side effects by reading this article.

Ambien Side Effects: Generic name zolpidem, Ambien is commonly user for the short term treatment of insomnia, particularly trouble falling asleep. It has a very short onset of action, usually leading to sleep in less than 30 minutes, and sometimes much sooner. It is closely related to the benzodiazapines and so can be habit forming, although because of its very short half-life serious withdrawal Ambien side effects have not been proven to be common. Ambien is available in 5 and 10 mg tablets. 10 mg is the usual dosage except in the elderly when a 5 mg dose is recommended.

Common Ambien Side Effects: Minor side effects that are fairly common include drowsiness upon awakening, headache, a drugged feeling, lightheadedness and depression. The depression can be severe, see below under serious Ambien side effects. The rest of the Ambien side effects that are listed in the manufacturers list of common side effects are primarily those commonly listed for many other medications and include sinusitis, dry mouth, dizziness, lethargy, back pain, influenza-like symptoms, diarrhea, constipation and sore throat.

Life Threatening Ambien Side Effects: The most common serious Ambien side effects are amnesia and hallucinations. It is very important to take the medication immediately prior to going to sleep. It is fairly common to become quite confused, to wander and behave erratically after taking Ambien if patients continue waking activities after taking the drug, so it is very important to be in bed when the drug takes effect. Activities such as wandering to driving a motor vehicle or doing other dangerous activities while under the influence of Ambien are reported not infrequently. These are much more likely if you don’t go to bed immediately after taking the medication and it begins to take effect before you go to bed. Other common Ambien side effects include worsening of or development of depression, allergic reactions that can occasionally be severe including anaphylaxis, and suicidal ideation or aggressive behavior.

Unusual Ambien side effects: The wandering and very erratic behavior while taking Ambien are the most unusual and bizarre Ambien side effects. These unfortunately are not rare, and you should be aware of this possibility.

Drug Interactions: Ambien is almost exclusively metabolized by the liver using the Cytochrome P-450 3A4 pathway, and so has many potential drug interactions. The short half-life of Ambien make these less of a concern than with some other medications, but use of some of these medications could potentially prolong the half life of Ambien. Ambien is contraindicated with sodium oxybate, and should not be used in combination with alcohol. In general, it should be used with caution or avoided in combination with any other medications that can be central nervous system depressants because of possible addictive effects. Drug interactions are possible with the azole class of antifungal medications, the most commonly used of which is ketoconazole. Metabolism interactions are potentially of concern with many of the HIV medications.

Pregnancy and Lactation Class: Ambien is pregnancy category C, and is felt to be possibly unsafe to use during lactation.

Special Considerations: Ambien is a very short acting hypnotic. It is best used for trouble falling asleep. It is much less beneficial for trouble staying asleep or early morning awakening. It is available in a sustained release product, Ambien CR, which may last somewhat longer, but has otherwise similar Ambien side effects.

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