Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative, also called a hypnotic. It affects chemicals in your brain that may become unbalanced and cause sleep problems (insomnia).
Ambien is used to treat insomnia. The immediate-release tablet is used to help you fall asleep when you first go to bed. The extended-release form, Ambien CR, which has a first layer that dissolves quickly to help you fall asleep, and a second layer that dissolves slowly to help you stay asleep.
Some people using Ambien have engaged in activity such as driving, eating, or making phone calls and later having no memory of the activity. If this happens to you, stop taking Ambien and talk with your doctor about another treatment for your sleep disorder.
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to zolpidem. The tablets may contain lactose. Use caution if you are sensitive to lactose.
To make sure Ambien is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- kidney disease;
- liver disease;
- lung disease such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
- sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep);
- myasthenia gravis;
- a history of depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts; or
- a history of drug or alcohol addiction.
Ambien may be habit forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Ambien will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.
Ambien may cause a severe allergic reaction. Stop taking Ambien and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to zolpidem: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: depression, anxiety, aggression, agitation, confusion, unusual thoughts, hallucinations, memory problems, changes in personality, risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger, or thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself.
Stop using Ambien and call your doctor at once if you have:
- chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, feeling short of breath;
- trouble breathing or swallowing; or
- feeling like you might pass out.
Common Ambien side effects may include:
- daytime drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, feeling “drugged” or light-headed;
- tired feeling, loss of coordination;
- stuffy nose, dry mouth, nose or throat irritation;
- nausea, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach; or
- headache, muscle pain.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.