Insomnia is a medical condition where a person has difficulty falling or staying asleep. Insomnia can be short-term and long-term, but it shouldn’t be confused with a few sleepless nights. Acute insomnia lasts from one night to a few weeks, while chronic insomnia occurs at least three nights a week for three months or more. Your insomnia can be linked to other health conditions called primary insomnia or can be linked to other health conditions like asthma, depression, cancer, pain, etc., called secondary insomnia.
Lack of sleep due to insomnia can negatively impact your physical, mental, and emotional health. Your lack of sleep could be due to stress, your surroundings, your sleep schedule, and even your genes. It can cause difficulty functioning the next day, so doctors prescribe Ambien to treat insomnia.
What is Ambien, and how does it work?
Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic that works to help you get a better night’s rest. It is the brand name for Zolpidem and is used prevalently prescribed to patients (adults) with insomnia. Ambien is prescribed as a short-term treatment and is known to work best with behavior therapy, where you are told the importance of sleep hygiene and a proper sleep schedule.
Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic that works similarly to benzodiazepines. It acts on the brain to produce a calming and relaxing effect. It is also known to slow down the activity in the brain by using GABA, which blocks the transmission of chemical signals reducing overactivity in the brain. Ambien works to also affect chemicals in the brain that may be imbalanced in patients with insomnia.
Ambien is known to help you get a night of better sleep by helping you fall asleep faster, which is how the immediate-release tablet works. The extended-release form of Ambien has two layers, and the first one dissolves to help you fall asleep while the second layer dissolves slowly to help you stay asleep to get a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
What are the possible side effects of Ambien?
The common side effects are-
3- Feeling lightheadedness
4- Daytime drowsiness
The common side effects of Ambien should decrease with time.
The severe side effects of Ambien include-
1- Chest pain or irregular heartbeat
2- Memory loss or mood changes like new or worsening depression
3- Abnormal thoughts like suicide or hallucinations
4- Confusion and agitation
5- Anxiety or aggressive behavior
The severe side effects of Ambien are unlikely. However, it is suggested that you inform your doctor and look for medical assistance if you notice them.
A severe allergic reaction to Ambien is rare. Still, it is suggested that you call for immediate medical help if you notice rashes, itching, or swelling of the tongue, face, or throat, severe dizziness, and difficulty breathing. In the case of an older adult, you may be more sensitive to the side effects of Ambien, and it is advised that you monitor your doses and side effects regularly.
How long does Ambien stay in your system?
Ambien is a fast-acting drug that is eliminated from the system relatively quickly. Its half-life is 2.5 to 3 hours. The half-life of a substance is the amount of time it takes half of the active substance to be removed from your body. Ideally, a drug takes 5 to 6 half-lives to be entirely eliminated from your body, meaning it takes about 14 to 18 hours for Ambien to be removed.
Some tests can still detect Ambien in your body-
Urine – Urine tests can detect Ambien in your system from 24 to 48 hours after your last dose.
Blood– Ambien can be detected in the bloodstream for at least 6 to 20 hours
Hair- Hair takes longer to grow and can detect Ambien for up to 5 weeks after the last dose.
Factors like liver and kidney function, metabolism, diet, age, and weight, along with the duration and dosage administered, can affect the time it takes Ambien to leave your body.
Precautions to be taken while using Ambien
Ambien can be addictive and habit-forming, especially if you have previously abused or misused a substance. It would be best if you used your prescription in restraint to avoid addiction and overdose. It would be best to inform your doctor about your medical history, especially about liver or kidney disease and mental or mood disorders like depression. It is suggested that you refrain from using alcohol and other CNS depressants, as they can worsen your side effects.
How should you have Ambien?
Ambien is orally administered and is available as an immediate release and an extended-release pill. It would be best if you had Ambien 1 or 2 hours after dinner or right before you go to bed. It is advised that you don’t have Ambien after a heavy meal and if you don’t have at least 7 to 8 hours before you wake up. Ambien is available in two dosage strengths of 5mg and 10mg. The dosage of Ambien prescribed to you will be based on your medical condition, age, gender, and response to treatment.
Also Read: How long will Ambien stay in your system?