Sleep Starved: A site by insomniacs and for insomniacs who are looking for something new…
Feb
29

your experience with the Ambien [zolpidem] crazies—is it a demon drug?

ambien_pills.jpg
“I tell people about Ambien. Somebody said, ‘Take this, it’s mild.’ I almost drove off a cliff 50 yards from my house.” Jack Nicolson, quoted by Laura Barton and Charlie Brooker, “Pillows, Pills, and Potions, Guardian Unlimited, UK, Guardian.Co, Feb. 5, 2008. Read More…

Do we need regulation, self-regulation, better drugs…or what??

“Warning ordered for controversial sleep drug,” Julie Medow, The Age, Melbourne

Makers of controversial sleep drug Stilnox [Ambien] are being forced to label the product to warn consumers about the “bizarre” and “potentially dangerous” behaviours associated with the drug. Read more…

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24 Responses to “your experience with the Ambien [zolpidem] crazies—is it a demon drug?”

  1. avatb

    Ambian gave me the best sleep I’ve ever had BUT it washed out of my system by early afternoon and left me increasingly anxious every day. I didn’t make the connection for weeks. I’m a psychotherapist and understood that I was anxious and how to try to alleviate it, but it was overwhelming anyway. It was causing high blood pressure and increased heart rate as well (60 beats per minute became 100 beats per minute). When I realized what was going on and quit the Ambian, I had to use Tranxene for ten days to get over the withdrawal freak-out.

  2. fdouwes

    I’ve used Ambien for about 5 years almost every night; I wonder what the long-term effects of its use are. I have never experienced any of the side effects like sleepwalking, anxiety or not recalling things – still, I am pretty dependent on it. I start out with 5 mg; most nights I wake up and take another 5 mg. Prior to this, I never took anything and just took my insomnia for granted, reading or writing until I fell asleep. I am wondering whether the time-released version would work better for me. Overall, I think it’s a pretty good medicine. (of course, it’s 1 am as I write this and I am preparing to take a little more….)

  3. SG

    I think you are using Ambien in an optimal manner, though if you could fall asleep naturally and ditch the first 5 mg you might be less subject to “dependence.” The Ambien folks went to the CR because A. as you found, 10 mg is not effective for sleep maintenance and B. it was coming off patent and they wanted to maintain their franchise. They kept the franchise, somewhat, but the 12.5 CR just adds a 2.5 mg coating to put you to sleep and then 10 mg inside to slug you deeper, but,in my experience not too much longer. I don’t think (used to know) that it lengthens the time to peak concentration or extends that blood level for any appreciable time.

    For me, Ambien has a lot of variables..food in stomach, beginning vs. middle of night, etc.

    SG

  4. katyanne

    As I said in an earlier post, I take Ambien and Remeron every night. I occasionally increase the dose of Ambien from 5 mgs to 7.5 mgs but never more than that and if I have a bad night, so be it. I don’t take any more than that later in the night because I’ll feel hungover if I do. I’ve been on this combo for two years and it works well.
    I don’t bounce around with the dosing and I don’t ever not take it. I think inconsistency in those areas can make the insomnia worse.
    I never drink so that’s not an issue. I’ve heard plenty of stories about the weirdness it can cause but the only thing I’ve experienced is being uncoordinated and stumbling as though drunk. And that’s because I’m not in bed yet and should be! I would never take it and then do something like drive somewhere – that would be a recipe for disaster, in more ways than one.
    No one knows the long term effects of taking these drugs but I’m resigned to taking them at least until I retire. I’ve suffered for too many years and I don’t see the point of suffering more if I don’t have to.

  5. cecilia

    I take Lunesta 3mg or sometimes 2 mg. It has really helped. I have taken it about 2 years, and I don’t notice any side effects. Even with the Lunesta, I still wake up too early sometimes, that last hour of REM sleep in the morning seems to be key for me.

  6. HeatherM

    Unfortunately, I have to take A LOT of Ambien (30 mg-40 mg) in order to fall asleep–so much so that I have enough Ambien for half a month only. Two weeks out of every month I don’t sleep. I just never get sleepy but I am tired, like I have the flu for two weeks…fun! I don’t experience withdrawal symptoms: I just go back to the way I am without it–a total insomniac. I think I have tried everything: sleep hygiene, myriad pills and concoctions, reading, baths, etc. I don’t get sleepy, but I get to experience all of the wonderful side effects of no sleep. I dread when the sun goes down every night…*sigh*

  7. victoria

    AmbienCR (extended release) ‘almost’ always gives me the best (meaning a solid 4-5 hrs) of sleep. I use it judiciously, as regular (nightly) use leaves me with cognitive slowing and over time, it just loses effectiveness. Also, 14 tabs @ $53 is the max my insurance allows (another limiting factor). My average is 2-3 nights a week. The rest of the nights, I alternate with an arsenal of herbal supplements and antihistamines. I’ve tried them all, like Lunesta best…the only reason I’ve stuck w/ambien is my doctor occasionally provides samples to help out. I think its criminal for insurance companies to limit my access to 14 pills a month. I’ve screamed, pleaded and negotiated for a change to this policy, but it’s as though no one can really hear me. I’m stunned at the lack of interest or concern…I think I’m perceived as ‘drug seeking’ and God knows what kind of fun they think I’m having with sleep medication… Hopefully, better advocacy will improve access to affordable solutions.

  8. MiriamCM

    Hello, I am new to this site and like many have tried a variety of pills, singly and in combination. For years used Ativan–up to 2mg–and often a glass of wine for a chaser. Read about the adverse cognitive effect, especially for older folks (I am 73) so weaned myself off of it and started the Ambien, Lunesta, etc., route. Each helped for a while but lost effectiveness after a few months. Currently I take 5mg of Ambien when I begin feeling desparate for sleep and get maybe 4 hours. Otherwise, I try to tough it out with restless sleep (I have peiodic limb movement disorder) and emotionally stressful “dreams” from which I cannot escape without getting out of bed and often having a drink to calm down. No fun! Glad I found this site and now, in a way, have someone to talk to. I live alone.

  9. onceslept

    I’m glad Ambien worked for some of you, even for awhile. It did absolutly nothing for me! Rozerem, lunesta by itself-nothing. Like Gayle I’ve been put on Xyrem-guess what? what should knock an elephant down, only made me feel wierd while I was awake! I think I’ve been through them all, including Lyrica-which actually did help me for more than 6 mo. It was the 1st drug that gave me sleep and sanity back. However, side effects and the increasing dosages left me w/ 30lb weight gain and feeling like I was swimming through air. I had to get off. Then Klonipin/clonazapam I’ve had more lengthy luck w/ this one, because I think it taps into my neurolgy, however, now that I’m excersing more, I’m in more pain and I’m waking up again after 4 hours.

  10. long-timeInsomniak

    When I first used Ambien it was amazing – but I know drugs in that family can build a tolerance (such as Xanax did before that)… I used to use it a 3 or 4 times a week. It really helped to break up the pattern of chronic exhaustion and irritability, and I used them to sleep the night before days I needed to function better on.
    Then later I found that 50mg of Topamax, which is not at all habit-forming or tolerance-building, will let me sleep at night with no hangover or sluggishness leftover of any kind. I can wake and respond to any urgent problem that may arise in the night and even go back to sleep! I don’t know from reading any research but I suspect that the Topamax helps me to sleep yet allows the normal sleep cycles to occur.
    For over 35 years I suffered from deep depressions, eventually medicated. Now, with only a teensy of Topomax I haven’t been depressed for over 5 years. I feel pretty sure lack of sleep had made me crabby, irritable, b*tchy, and depressed – as much as I did not want to be that.
    I am grateful to no longer be a prisoner of that, as long as I have this drug that is!

  11. Jenny K

    I have been taking the following meds for a good few months and they work for me, most of the time: 1/4 of a 7.5 mg tablet of “Imovane” (Zopiclone)–don’t think this is used much in the US but I believe it’s related to Ambien–plus 1/2 of a 25mg tab of Amitryptaline. The latter is an old style (“tricyclic”) anti-depressant or at least it is at much larger doses. I don’t suffer from clinical depression so only take it because at this dose it’s useful to help induce sleep and it’s also a good anti-histamine. That’s good for me as well because I suffer from hives.

    Zopiclone is usually prescribed at the dosage of 1 whole tablet per night. I used to take it that way on and off but now manage well on this small but regular dose.

  12. Jenny K

    Addit to above: I work as a psychiatric nurse and have seen quite a few odd effects from Ambien (we call it Stilnox here in Australia). One patient became delerious and started to wander about waking other patients and talking absolute nonsense to them (almost as if she was hallucinating). Another patient was sleep-texting people (that is–sending text messages on her mobile phone to friends etc (texting is a bit of acarze here amongst young people) in the middle of the night but had no memory of doing so.

    Apparently Ambien wakes up a certain part of the brain while putting other parts to sleep, thus producing the strange not awake/not asleep state and bizarre behaviour in some people. I read they are considering triallng it on coma patients in the hope that it might stimulate some kind of response.

  13. JeffW77

    I began taking zolpidem (generic Ambien) in late November of 2007. It worked great. I slept properly and woke up refreshed for the first time in my life. I also became some bizarre combination of Superman and Wildman. I accomplished more in three months than I ever would have imagined–and I did some really strange things, to the point where relatives insisted I see my doctor (not the strange things mentioned in the med guide–nothing that dramatic). He said the evidence showed that I was manic, and he started me on Lithium. The Lithium was good–the Wildman behavior went down, and I was still able to get things done. Unfortunately, the zolpidem became less effective after six months and non-effective within six more weeks. The journey to proper sleep is not an easy one. God Bless us all. I’m in Portland Oregon…

  14. g-13lady

    hated ambien and lunesta i mean all those presciption drugs they are meant to get you hooked and keep buying even that you tolerent to it .
    forcesleep is a really great product that helped re-establishing my sleep and it’s not habit forming .

  15. Feelinghopeless

    Per g-13lady, what is “forcesleep” and where do you get it?

  16. ZeroIsACat

    For the first time ever….Last night I took 1 10mg at midnight, waited for the tremendous onset I’ve been hearing about…and nothing. Waited some more, nothing. Waited until 1 and took another….nothing. So around 2 i chewed up a third…waited…nothing.

    And when I say nothing, I mean NOTHING, not a single discernible effect.

    This was on a semi full stomach so tonight I tried again with an empty stomach…
    12am: 2-10mg
    12:15: nothing
    12:30: nothing
    1:00: 1-10mg
    1:15: nothing
    1:30: nothing
    2:00: 1-10mg chewed

    It is now about 3:30..and still….NOTHING.

    Did I get a bad batch? :(

  17. Adam

    5mg ambien used to knock me on my ***. I’d experience memory blanks but usually not 100% – more like 90%. Often once someone told me about making some stupid phonecall or some forgotten conversation, I’d have some vague recollection of it. Sometimes I’d look at my computer the next morning and see some chat window I’d left open to a friend and been horrified by the nonsensical jibberish I’d written.

    Now I can take 10 or even 20mg and still carry on a conversation and type relatively normally up until the point I’m basically planting my head on the keyboard. Somehow I find my increased capacity to function under its effects disheartening.

    Once I took a pill the night before a business trip, and then decided to pack afterwords. Next morning I awoke, grabbed my suitcase, and went straight to the airport. Upon arriving, I realized that I’d packed only the left shoe of two pairs of dress shoes! I had to run out to the mall to buy an emergency pair…!

    Sometimes the onset of effects can make me, uh, amorous! My wife really doesn’t like ambien-sex as she calls it, because I usually fall asleep in the middle! :-) Poor woman, marrying me and all…!

  18. Mary L

    I tried Ambien briefly (10 mg tab). I found that I did fall asleep quickly, but could not maintain sleep. When I would wake up about 4 hours later, I would be even more anxious and alert than without Ambien – plus a KILLER headache that seemed to increase every day for the month that I tried it. Since I can sleep 4 hours without Ambien, it really did almost nothing for me. Unfortunately, I seem to be stuck in the 4 hour pattern no matter what I take… and the unfortunate part of having since been prescribed “longer acting” meds such as Lunesta or Restoril is that I don’t feel I can take any at 4:00 am when I need it most.

  19. Farshore

    Ambien worked totally opposite for me. I only took it once. It made me extremely hyper. I was full of energy and hyped for nearly 36 hours, then I crashed for about 5 hours of really good sleep. Now, I just laugh at their commercials. Without pills, I’m now taking Lunesta, I sleep for about 4 or 5 hours. About once a week, I will get in a good 7 – 9 hours of sleep. I’m retired now and have found that a sleep pattern that works for me is to sleep from 8 a.m. to noon and again from 8 to midnight.

  20. I am constantly looking for natural and alternative ways to solve insomnia and sleeping disorders. You’re welcome to visit my website and blog http://www.sleeplessnomore.com/blog where I endeavour to find solutions that don’t involve drugs. Not all the solutions are there yet, I understand. It is sometimes a complex issue, and each person has their own story to tell. But there are heaps of idea and suggestions for you, that’s my mission. Sleepless No More also has a training division Sleep Frontier that holds sleep seminars in Australia. I am presently putting together a collection of expert interviews and case study interviews to help. e.g. some ideas you may not have pursued include Neuro-training (Andrew Verity) and EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique for those with stress and anxiety. The best of luck in your quest to find your individual solutions. Regards, Elizabeth

  21. Matt

    Beware. I got a small prescription of this drug and it didn’t even work at first. So I called in and said it did nothing. The doctor said to keep taking it as it can take a few days. Day two it produced dizziness and the hallucinations which were short lived and unpleasant but that’s all. I tried one more day and that’s when it started to work. Well in a hammer to the brain kind of way. Funny thing is I really don’t recall the actual experience much. I do remember getting light sleep but it was disturbed. Like something was wrong. I woke up feeling ill. And very depressed I might add. Not only that for the next two days my heart palpitated randomly and almost constantly. I’m no doctor but it seems to me that Ambien breaks the body down. Weakens you to the point of a sort of concussionary unconsciousness. I also developed a cold during this time for the first time in years. Very bad signs.

  22. Weakens you to the point of a sort of concussionary unconsciousness. I also developed a cold during this time for the first time in years. Very bad signs.I’m retired now and have found that a sleep pattern that works for me is to sleep from 8 a.m. to noon and again from 8 to midnight.I realized that I’d packed only the left shoe of two pairs of dress shoes! I had to run out to the mall to buy an emergency pair…!

  23. I just like the helpful info you provide to your articles. I will bookmark your blog and test once more here regularly. I am reasonably sure I’ll learn lots of new stuff proper right here! Best of luck for the next!

  24. Jacqui

    I Would like to share my past three days experience with Stilnox..I have read all the bad stories, but I have also seen the good side and watched the ‘Carte Blanche’ video on U-tube. Worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. My partner has Fredricks Ataxia, he is 26yrs of age. He gets around in a wheelchair and has rather depleted fine motor skills. He struggles to hold things properly and pick things up with ease. Now after a head injury, the doctor prescribed Stilnox. He did not take it for a week because I insisted he does not need help with sleeping. Then he showed me the Carte Blanchiracle drug video. I suggested he take a half at night for a month and then we’d see if it does him any good. Well the past three nights have been a bit sleepless for me , because of the Spider-Man behavior. I’m happy though, despite the occasional punch or whack I receive in bed, I am excited about the changes that are taking place. I have seen him doing very well balanced positions in his sleep, twice he has thrown his legs out of bed to sit up and just sit, in his waking state he often falls over without holding onto anything. He has also been holding his feet and rocking on his back in a kind of yoga position, which in his waking state is never so well executed. The physio was here yesterday and I asked him to demonstrate this position to her, she said she had never seen him do it so well. Then the other thing I have noticed is his eyes. Usually he has rapid eye movement, they shift left and right and his head is mostly just as shifty. Yesterday, his eyes were still and focussed. He ate supper without a coughing fit. There are more changes, but I will save it for my next post. If anyone who has Fredricks Ataxia, who has tried Stilnox, I would really like to hear your story so far. Always living in hope.