Ambien is a potent hypnotic medication, which is widely used to treat acute and chronic insomnia. This medication has some properties that might be interesting to you. Join us to find out the key facts about Ambien.
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Ambien. The 5 Facts You Might not Know
Ambien is a popular sleeping pill, which has been present on the US pharmaceutical market since 1992. In 2019, Ambien became the 47th most often prescribed medication in the United States. Compared to the previous year, its rating grew by 13 points. How can one explain this? Probably, the reason for increased use for Ambien is a boost in the stress levels, which is easy to understand by just remembering the growing concerns about the deadly virus that started spreading that year.
Anyways, Ambien has always been popular among people dealing with insomnia as this medication provides quality deep sleep and eliminates the problem of inability of falling asleep. Before we get down to some interesting facts about Ambien you might not know about, let’s get to know this drug a bit better.
What Is Ambien?
This preparation is a hypnotic of imidazopyridine class, often referred to as Z-drugs. The only indication for the use of Ambien is insomnia. The medication works quite fast; usually, people need a couple of minutes to half an hour to fall asleep. The time required for sleep onset varies depending on whether you take the pill with or without food. Besides, the speed of metabolic processes in people is not the same, so this may also play a role in how fast you’ll feel the effects of Ambien. If used in an immediate-release formulation, the duration of action of the drug is three hours. The extended-release formulation works about twice longer.
Now, let’s get down to the five facts about Ambien
Fact 1. Ambien Is Often Confused with Benzodiazepines
The effects of Ambien, along with its mechanism of action, are very similar to that of benzodiazepines – medicines used for the treatment of anxiety, panic, insomnia, and other health problems. However, being similar doesn’t mean being the same. Unlike benzodiazepines, which bind to and activate all GABA-BZ receptor subtypes, Ambien (active substance – zolpidem) does this selectively. This is the primary reason why it has a strong hypnotic effect but weak anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant effects.
Besides, Ambien is much safer in terms of building up tolerance and dependence compared to benzodiazepines.
Fact 2. Ambien Might Cause Dependence
While Ambien is much safer than benzodiazepines, it still possesses abuse potential. This is the primary reason why this drug belongs to controlled substances. It is marked as a Schedule IV medication. To minimize the risks of forming a habit, doctors recommend taking Ambien short term. On average, the therapy continues from two to six weeks, depending on the severity of your condition and your reaction to the drug. Long-term intake of Ambien is not recommended because it enhances the risks of dependence.
According to the Addiction Center, the statistics of Ambien-related emergency room visits increased by 220% within five years.
Fact 3. Women Need Lower Dosage of Ambien than Men
In 2013, the FDA required lowering the recommended dosages of Ambien for women. Such a decision was made based on a number of studies, which showed that the clearance of the active substance from the female body is 35% lower than in men. Because of this, women are more prone to next-day somnolence and cognitive impairment. So, according to the FDA, women should take dosage twice lower than men, which is 5 mg at bedtime for immediate-release formulations and 6.5 mg for extended-release pills. It’s also worth mentioning that the differences in Ambien clearance don’t depend on the person’s weight, so regardless of what figures you see on the scales if you are a woman, you should take a lower dosage of Ambien.
Fact 4. Ambien Is Recommended for the US Air Forces Personnel on Duty
Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic medication, which is used by the US Air Force personnel on duty. Why do they need this medication? In stressful situations like the preparation for the upcoming military tasks, soldiers may have trouble falling asleep. Poor quality sleep, as well as insufficient rest, may alter cognitive functions, affecting the professional skills of the people on duty. To avoid this, US Air Forces have a list of the so-called no-go pills, which are hypnotics and stimulants aimed to give soldiers enough rest and boost their concentration, wakefulness, and other cognitive functions. This helps them succeed in their tasks.
Fact 5. Ambien May Cause Sleepwalking
One of the most dangerous side effects of Ambien is sleepwalking. Although at first sight it doesn’t sound scary, in fact, it is. People under the effects of Ambien can’t control their behavior. Their consciousness is switched-off, so any actions in such a state might be dangerous. The cases of sleep-driving and sleep-related eating were described in several Ambien studies. Somnambulism is a rare side effect of this medication, but if it does happen to you, you’d better consider discontinuation of treatment.
Ambien works great for insomnia, but you should still consult a doctor before use.