Guide on Zolpidem – Side Effects, Interactions, Doses, Precautions and More

Guide on Zolpidem – Side Effects, Interactions, Doses, Precautions and More

There are millions of people around the world that suffer from conditions like insomnia where they cannot fall asleep or stay asleep no matter how much they try. So for such people, a range of medicines have been introduced that help them fall or stay asleep and one of such drugs is Zolpidem.

This guide is all about Zolpidem that will touch on things like what it is, how it works, what its side effects are, what its usual doses are and more. So if you want to know all the basics about Zolpidem, make sure to stick with us till the end of this guide.

What is Zolpidem?

Zolpidem is a prescription medicine that is typically used to treat insomnia which is a condition that causes trouble in going to sleep or staying asleep. Zolpidem comes in the form of an oral spray and an oral tablet. The oral tablet of Zolpidem comes in three further forms:

  • Immediate-release: As the name suggests, it immediately releases the drug into your body.
  • Extended-release: It slowly releases the drug into your body.
  • Sublingual-release: This one dissolves under your tongue.

Zolpidem is available under different brand names that include; Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar, and Intermezzo. All the forms of Zolpidem oral tablets can also be found as generic drugs and as you know, generic drugs cost less. However, you may not find generic drugs in all strengths or forms like brand-name drugs.

Why is Zolpidem Used?

The oral tablets of Zolpidem are used for the treatment of insomnia that makes it hard for the sleeper to fall asleep or stay asleep. The immediate release and the sublingual forms are used if someone has trouble falling asleep.

Whereas, the extended-release tablets are used when the sleeper has trouble staying asleep. Typically, a low dose of extended-release tablets that ranges between 1.75mg and 3.5mg is used when the sleeper wakes up during the night and faces trouble going back to sleep.

How Zolpidem Works?

Zolpidem comes under the ‘sedative’ class of drugs, and if you don’t know, a class of drugs is the group of medications that perform in a similar way and are often used to treat conditions that are similar. So the way Zolpidem works is that it induces sleep by enhancing GABA effects.

GABA is a chemical transmitter that is found in the brain that causes sleepiness. So if its activity is increased through Zolpidem, the user falls asleep.

However, do not confuse Zolpidem with the benzodiazepines because its chemical structure is different from it and that is why Zolpidem comes under the ‘sedative-hypnotics’ class.

Side Effects of Zolpidem:

There are two kinds of side effects that you can experience with any kind of drug; the common ones and the more serious side effects. Let’s look at both in the case of Zolpidem:

Common Side Effects of Zolpidem:

If the effects given below are mild, then they may go away in the next few days, but if they are severe and don’t go away, you must have to talk to your doctor.

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Chest pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Grogginess
  • Palpitations
  • Muscle pain
  • Lightheadedness

Serious Side Effects of Zolpidem:

If you experience the serious side effects given below, you need to call your doctor right away or if you feel that the symptoms are life-threatening to you, call 911 because it can be a medical emergency.

  • Depression: Symptoms can include the loss of interest in the activities that you normally enjoy or getting thoughts of harming yourself or even doing suicide. You may also feel worthlessness, guilt, lack of energy, trouble in concentrating or thinking and may also lose or gain weight.
  • Allergic reactions: Symptoms can include the swelling of face or tongue or trouble in breathing
  • Abnormal behavior or thoughts: Symptoms can include you going out a lot frequently than normal, thinking unreal things or feeling like you are watching yourself from out of your body, you may also get hallucinations.
  • Doing Activities with a Memory: You may do things like driving, talking on the phone, preparing/eating food or have sex and may not remember about them.
  • Trouble breathing: These symptoms can include tiredness, shallow or slowed breathing or decreases levels of oxygen in your blood.
  • Amnesia: This is one of the most serious side effects of taking Zolpidem and if you experience it, talk to your doctor right away.

Zolpidem and Drug Interactions:

Different types of drugs can interact with Zolpidem, and you need to be very careful and ALWAYS discuss with your doctor if you are already taking some medication. If you use it with other drugs that can make you drowsy it will only worsen your condition. So make sure to ask your doctor before taking any sleeping pill, an opioid medication, drug for seizures or anxiety or even a muscle relaxer.

There are a number of drugs that can interact with Zolpidem and make it less effective or worse yet, increase its side effects. These drugs include both over-the-counter medicines and prescription pills and also the vitamins and herbal products.

Keep in mind that not all types of drugs that can interact with Zolpidem are mentioned here, so it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you ask your doctor first before using any drugs with Zolpidem or tell him that you are already using some drugs before taking Zolpidem.

Precautions to Take Before Using Zolpidem:

To make sure that the use of Zolpidem is safe for you, you need to tell your doctor a few things that are given below:

  • Addiction to a drug or alcohol
  • Breathing problems or lung disease
  • Disease related to kidney or liver
  • Medication that you are already taking
  • Sleep apnea
  • Mental illness
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts

Remember that Zolpidem is not approved for anyone who is younger than 18 years old and if you are pregnant, you should know that the use of Zolpidem in your pregnancy’s last three months can cause breathing or drowsiness problems to your newborn.

Dosage of Zolpidem:

Remember that this information is just to help you understand its dosage and we are not recommending these doses in any way, so make sure to consult with your doctor for the dose of Zolpidem for your specific condition. So with that said, let’s look at the usual dosage of Zolpidem for adults with insomnia:

  • Starting Dosage: Women can take 5mg and men can take 5mg or 10mg. This dose should be taken right before your bedtime and only take it if you can get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep after taking it.
  • Increase in Dosage: Your dosage may be increased by your doctor to 10mg a day if the starting dose of 5mg is not working.
  • Maximum Dosage: The max quantity of Zolpidem that you can take is 10mg per day right before your bedtime.

Remember that these doses are for Ambien, Edluar and the generic formulations of Zolpidem. Also, you should always consult with your doctor before taking or increasing any dose of this drug.

Tips for Taking Zolpidem:

  • Consumption of food with Zolpidem can delay the onset of its effects, so if you take Zolpidem without food, it will work faster. Therefore, take Zolpidem when you are about to hit the hay.
  • Only take Zolpidem when you know you can get 7-8 hours of sleep afterwards because if you wake up after, let’s say, 3-4 hours, its effects will still be strong and you may get into an accident if you drive.
  • Do not swallow the whole sublingual tablet, always keep it under your tongue and allow it to disintegrate on its own.
  • Zolpimist, which is the spray form of Zolpidem, should be directly sprayed into your mouth and over your tongue. Make sure to prime the pump if you haven’t use the spray for 14 days or more or if you are using it for the first time.
  • Do not chew, cut or crush the extended-release tablet as it can help you stay asleep and taking it in its original form ensures that it works properly.
  • Higher dosage of Zolpidem may impair the alertness of the next day, so make sure to increase your dose after consulting with your doctor.
  • If after taking Zolpidem you still feel sleepy the next day then make sure to be very cautious when operating machinery or driving vehicles.
  • The use of Zolpidem may make you dizzy that can increase the risk of falls, so be very careful when you sit, stand up or lay down.
  • If you start to feel a change in your mood, feel depression, amnesia or any other common and serious symptoms mentioned above, call your doctor immediately.

Over to You:

So that concludes our guide on Zolpidem. We hope that you have learned something about this drug and now you know what side effects to expect and what to do if you feel them. Just make sure to always start using Zolpidem or increase its dosage after consulting your doctor.

And remember, this guide is just to provide you with the basic knowledge about Zolpidem. We, in no way, recommend or suggest anything so always consult with your doctor first.