Zolpidem tartrate is classified as a central nervous system depressant, sometimes also referred to as a hypnotic or sedative. This medication is used to slow down the nervous system by producing a calming effect as it works on the brain. Also prescribed as Ambien, this medication is prescribed to treat insomnia. It helps patients fall asleep faster, as well as sleep throughout the entire night.
How is this Medication Used?
In most cases, this medication is only used for one to two weeks at a time, however, some patients will be prescribed this medication long-term. Patients must never exceed more than ten milligrams per ady and must take this medication exactly as their doctor tells them to. It is most often taken immediately before the patient goes to bed, and it is taken by mouth. Patients should not eat when taking this medication.
It is common for patients to feel dizzy, have a headache, diarrhea, feel lightheaded, have an upset stomach, or dry mouth. Serious side effects are unlikely, but include:
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Mental or mood changes
- Unusual tiredness
- Memory loss
Though rare, sleep-driving, sleepwalking, and doing other things while sleeping without remembering these things were done can occur. This can be dangerous and must be reported immediately to the patient’s doctor. Using alcohol with this drug increases the chance of experiencing this.
Certain medical conditions could be made worse with this drug. Contraindications include:
- Medication allergies, specifically to zolpidem tartrate
- Kidney disease
- Mental or mood disorders
- Lung or breathing problems
- Attention deficit disorder
- Liver disease
- Personal history of substance abuse, or a family history of this
- Myasthenia gravis
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
If a patient is taking this drug they may have to avoid others, including:
- Sodium oxybate
- Drugs affecting certain liver enzymes
- HIV protease inhibitors
- Azole antifungals
- Certain antihistamines
- Cold and cough products
- Anxiety medications
- Narcotic pain medications
- Anti-seizure medications
- Muscle relaxers
- Psychiatric medications
Warnings and Precautions
This drug should only be taken when the patient is able to dedicate a full seven to eight hours to sleep due to the infrequent possibility of temporary memory loss. Withdrawal symptoms can occur when this medication is stopped after taking it in high doses or for a prolonged period of time. The dose must be reduced gradually to help prevent withdrawal symptoms. Such symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, shakiness, flushing, or nervousness. Though unlikely, this drug can cause abnormal drug-seeking behavior.
Pregnant women should avoid this drug and it also passes into breast milk and, therefore, should be avoided when breastfeeding. This medication must also be avoided when performing activities that require alertness. Alcoholic beverages must be avoided.
RxList. (2010). Ambien. Retrieved on September 8, 2010 from RxList: https://www.rxlist.com/ambien-drug.htm
Drugs.com. (2010). Zolpidem Tartrate. Retrieved on September 8, 2010 from Drugs.com: https://www.drugs.com/pdr/zolpidem-tartrate.html