Zolpidem – Ambien & Ambien CR

One of the most widely known sleep medications is Ambien, generic Ambien is known as zolpidem tartrate. Ambien is prescribed to treat insomnia that is characterized by difficulties in getting to sleep, known as sleep onset insomnia. It is a non-benzodiazepine, non-narcotic hypnotic sleep medicine.

Most doctors will prescribe non-benzodiazepine hypnotics such as Ambien, Lunesta or Sonata for a period of seven to ten days only, however if your sleep problems are not resolved in that time period, it might be extended after careful evaluation by your doctor.

Ambien takes effect in about 10-20 minutes after taking the drug. Ambien has a half life of approximately 1.5 – 2.5 hours, at which point half of the drug has already been absorbed by the body and its effectiveness is reduced by the same amount.

Ambien CR

Ambien CR (controlled released) was introduced in 2005. While Ambien is approved to assist you in falling asleep, Ambien CR will not only help you fall asleep, but also to stay asleep longer throughout the night. With Ambien CR you wake up less frequently, and if you do, you fall back asleep more easily.

Ambien CR has a dual layer of action that addresses two types of insomnia. The first layer dissolves rapidly and helps you fall asleep quickly (sleep onset insomnia). The second layer takes longer to dissolve into the body and helps you to stay asleep through the night (sleep maintenance insomnia). Clinical studies have shown that Ambien CR is effective for up to seven hours.

There are no generic forms of Ambien CR. While Ambien is typically prescribed for seven to ten days, Ambien CR can be used for as long as your doctor recommends it.

Ambien Side Effects

Because Ambien can also cause behavioral changes (sleepwalking or sleep eating), these changes should be discussed with your doctor as soon as they are noticed. Ambien should not be used for those with kidney or liver problems because it may take longer for the drug’s effects to wear off for those people. Some of the most common side effects seen with Ambien include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Light headedness
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Indigestion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Lethargy

There is also the risk of Ambien abuse and Ambien addiction.

Additional Side Effects

There are less common side effects that can people have experienced with Ambien:

  • Pricking or tingling sensations
  • Dizziness when standing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Ambien Effectiveness

Ambien is effective in treating difficulty going to sleep and Ambien CR is effective for treating difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep. Ambien should not be used for longer than ten days, unless directed by your doctor. After that amount of time it can lose its effectiveness

Stopping Ambien

If you are instructed to take Ambien for more than two weeks, it is important that the process of stopping the medication be managed by your doctor. Suddenly stopping the sleep aid can cause serious problems known as Ambien withdrawal. These range from unpleasant feelings to vomiting and cramping.

Talking to Your Doctor

It is important to discuss your sleep disorder with your doctor, but it is equally important to discuss the need for Ambien as well as how to it safely and effectively. Follow the Ambien dosage schedule you are given carefully and follow other better sleep tips so that you can get the restorative sleep that you need.

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