Some side effects of the most common sleeping pill prescribed

Medication, Neurology @en

Zolpidem is one of the most popular “sleeping pill” medications worldwide. The most common brand name for this drug in Brazil is Stilnox, also available in generic form. In the United States the most common brand is Ambien.

It’s popularity probably comes from the fact that it is acts fairly quickly—typically within 15 minutes—and that it usually wears off by the morning, so it typically does not make a person groggy the next morning.

However, everyone metabolizes, or “breaks down” the drug at a different rate, and some people find that even in the morning, they still feel somewhat sleepy. Another more unusual possible problem is that some people have experienced rather bizarre sleepwalking episodes.

These episodes (sometimes referred to as autonomic or “zombie” behavior) range from simple sleepwalking to eating excessively and even to “sleep driving”. Such behaviors have been noted with other sleep medications too, but it seems that they are more common with zolpidem.

The excessive nighttime eating even has a name: “Sleep Related Eating Disorder”, and here is one account:

…the drug’s users sometimes sleepwalk into their kitchens, claw through their refrigerators like animals and consume calories ranging into the thousands. The next morning, the night eaters remember nothing about their foraging. But they wake up to find telltale clues: mouthfuls of peanut butter, Tostitos in their beds, kitchen counters overflowing with flour, missing food, and even lighted ovens and stoves. Some are so embarrassed, they delay telling anyone, even as they gain weight.

Beyond this “zombie” type behavior effect, the problem of next-morning drowsiness has been so severe in some users that on January 10, 2013 the Food and Drug Administration (USA) recommended a decreased dosage for the drug. Studies found that up to15 percent of women, and 3 percent of men, had enough residual drug in their system the next morning that their ability to drive was impaired.

It was clear that women metabolized this drug differently than men, so the Agency recommended that the dose of zolpidem (in it’s immediate release form) for women be decreased from 10 mg. to 5 mg. The Agency also recommended that men consider lowering their dose also to 5 mg. (for elderly people, the recommended dose has always been 5 mg. or less).  Some people, of any age, have found that even ¼ of a tablet; that is, 2.5 mg, is effective.

Use of sleep medications should be limited. Besides sleep walking and morning sleepiness, there is concern about becoming dependent and/or building up tolerance (meaning you need more and more of the drug to be effective). If you take any sleep medications, you would be wise to make an appointment with your prescribing doctor to discuss these issues.

Should you wish to find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, use our main website:

Read also in ProcuraMed:

*Sleep apnea is common in women

*A computer at bedtime can harm your sleep. Really?



Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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