Get help today 888-744-0069 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

5 Scary Side Effects of Ambien Sleeping Pills

We’ve all been 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.

Enter Ambien

One popular sleep aid is Ambien (zolpidem)—a sedative-hypnotic medication intended for short-term management of insomnia.1 An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4% of Americans use a prescription sleep aid.2,3

Ambien comes with its own set of risks. While the sleep-inducing effects of Ambien are highly desirable to millions of people, they may come at a cost.

One popular sleep aid is Ambien (zolpidem)

Here’s a look at five possible side effects of Ambien you’ll want to consider before use.4,5

  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.
  2. Sleepwalking: It is not uncommon for people to do or say things that they normally wouldn’t 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 reports of people having “Ambien sex.” Although having sex may not sound like a scary fact, there are disturbing reports of Ambien being used as a date rape drug.
  4. It carries a risk for abuseIf you have to continually increase doses to get the desired sedative effects of Ambien, you may have developed a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance and the ensuing increased amounts of Ambien use can increase the risk of physical dependence, which means that you need Ambien in your system in order to feel and function “normally.”
    Using Ambien for longer-than-recommended durations of time and, especially, misusing Ambien by taking more than prescribed can lead some people down a path of significant physiological dependence and addiction. If you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, your doctor may not prescribe Ambien because the potential for abuse may be too high. According to a research study by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 43% 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 on Ambien, you may experience uncomfortable or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, stomach cramps, lightheadedness, nervousness, and panic attacks.

How to Find Help for Ambien Misuse

If you or a loved one is struggling with Ambien misuse, help is available and recovery is possible. Professional addiction treatment can start anyone battling a substance use problem on the path to a happier and healthier life. To learn more about treatment options for zolpidem dependence, contact a caring admissions navigator with American Addiction Centers (AAC) for free at . You can also check your insurance coverage online now.

Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

Recommended Ambien Rehabilitation-Related Articles

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019). MedlinePlus: Zolpidem.
  2. American Sleep Association. (n.d.). Sleep and Sleep Disorder Statistics.
  3. Chong, Y., Fryar, C., Gu, Q. (2013). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Prescription Sleep Aid Use Among Adults: United States, 2005-2010.
  4. S. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). Ambien Label.
  5. Madea, B., Mußhoff, F. (2009). Knock-Out Drugs: Their Prevalence, Modes of Action, and Means of Detection. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 106(20), 341–347.
Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.