5 Scary Effects of Ambien
We’ve all be there – you can’t sleep and you’re left tossing and turning in your bed. You know that getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to take care of yourself, but you can’t seem to shut your eyes.
It’s debatable what’s leading to your restless nights. Is it the amount of time you spend looking at a computer screen? The amount of coffee you drank that day? Stress? Anxiety? All of these things can contribute to insomnia. And like many other Americans, you might turn to medication to help you get through the night.
One of the most popular sleep aids is Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) – a sedative used to treat insomnia. An estimated 50 to 70 million American suffer from sleep disorders and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4 percent of Americans use a prescription sleep aid.
Although Ambien is often regarded as a “safer” alternative to benzodiazepines such as Valium, you should be aware that it comes with its own set of risks. While the relaxing effects of Ambien are highly desirable to millions of people, they may come at a cost.
Here’s a look at five things you’ll want to consider before popping those Ambien.
- #1: Increases the chances of driving a car (sleep-driving)
The FDA warns that after taking Ambien, you should not drive or engage in activities that require mental alertness. Many people take Ambien to help them sleep and the day after they wake up and drive to work. This is dangerous given that Ambien can impair a person’s ability to drive even after a full night’s sleep.
(The FDA produced a podcast on why it’s important to avoid driving the day after taking Ambien CR. You can listen here.)
- #2: Sleepwalking
It is not uncommon for people to do or say things that they wouldn’t normally do while on Ambien. One of the more serious side effects of taking Ambien is getting out of bed and not being fully awake. People report doing activities they weren’t aware of at the time, such as making food “sleep-eating” or talking on the phone.
- #3: Having sex
Ambien lessens inhibitions and there are numerous reports of people having “Ambien sex.” Although having sex doesn’t sound like a “scary” fact to most, there are disturbing reports of Ambien being used as a date rape drug.
- #4: Ambien carries a risk for abuse
If you have to continually increase your dosage to get the desired sedative effects of Ambien, you may have developed a tolerance to the drug. This can lead to physical dependence, which means that you need Ambien in your system in order to function.
Many people who use Ambien to treat insomnia develop an addiction to the drug. If you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, your doctor will likely not prescribe Ambien because the potential for abuse may be too high. According to a research study, 43 percent of people who developed an Ambien addiction had a previous history of substance abuse.
- #5: Withdrawal can be unpleasant
If you have developed a dependence to Ambien, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from Ambien can be dangerous and result in seizures and/or delirium.
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