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Many of us get to a point in our lives where we have trouble sleeping. This can be triggered by many factors such as stress, caffeine intake, or sometimes a more serious problem. You might think that sleeping is the most human thing to do in this world until you get to a point when the difficulties of sleeping become more of a routine than a one-time occurrence.
Sleep is basically your everyday battery. The shorter sleep you get, the poorer your drive gets within the day. While it is perfectly normal to sleep less than six hours from time to time, there are people that have difficulties sleeping on a regular basis.
In a recent survey, nearly 50 to 70 million Americans stated that they suffer from chronic sleeping disorders. One of the known medications to counter sleeping disorders is Zolpidem.
What is Zolpidem?
Zolpidem, commercially known as Ambien, is a type of sedative. Sedatives are defined as drugs that promote calmness and induce sleep.
Zolpidem is classified as a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic drug. It effectively treats moderate to severe sleep problems. Zolpidem is also used in the management of insomnia. It helps people reduce the difficulties of sleeping by helping them fall asleep faster and longer. It also reduces those times you wake up in the middle of the night.
Zolpidem is used to treat people suffering from onset insomnia. Onset insomnia is when a person finds it hard to sleep. Never confuse this with sleep Maintenance Insomnia, where a person has a hard time staying asleep. This isn’t the first line of treatment when you have difficulties sleeping once or twice. Sleep disorders should be carefully assessed and monitored by your physician.
Zolpidem is commercially available in drug stores under several brand names. Common brand names include:
- Ambien CR
How does Zolpidem function?
Ambien triggers the release of a neurotransmitter called GABA by effectively targeting the activity of GABA receptors. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that is released from a nerve cell which transmits an impulse from a nerve cell to another.
GABA is a type of neurotransmitter which has the effects of releasing nerve-calming components. The release of GABA effectively balances the chemicals in the brain. This activity then promotes more relaxed nerves and less anxiety, allowing a person to have a sound and undisturbed sleep.
When can I take Zolpidem?
Zolpidem requires a doctor’s prescription. This is not your daily, ordinary medicine that you can easily cart at your local drug store.
It is strictly for adults over the age of eighteen.
This drug is contraindicated to:
- Children below 18 years old
- People with severe breathing difficulties (this drug is capable of putting a person to a deep sleep that may cause difficulty in breathing)
- People suffering from sleep apnoea syndrome, a condition that halts breathing while sleeping
- People suffering from serious liver problems
- People diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
- People with severe visual hallucinations
Some people, especially elderly people, might need dose reduction or tapered dosing. Make sure to alert your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Allergic reactions
- Have had alcohol or drug abuse
- Have had any psychiatric illness or depression in the past
Also, be aware of the fact that Zolpidem only caters short-term treatment. Consult your doctor as soon as possible if your sleeping problems still persist even after taking a large amount of tablets.
The side effects
Just like any other drug, overdosing can cause moderate to severe side effects or even death. Zolpidem may cause amnesia and breathing difficulties when consuming a high dose.
Rebound insomnia is another severe side effect of dosage abuse. It is a withdrawal symptom caused by abrupt discontinuation of sleeping pills.
While a person has a 1 out of 10 chance of experiencing these side effects, it is still possible. However, there are more common side effects associated with Zolpidem intake including:
- Sudden headache
- Sudden dizziness
- Back pain
- Allergic reactions
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Irregular heartbeat
The above are the most common side effects caused by overdosing or drug intake beyond the prescribed limits.
Is it okay to take Zolpidem with other medications?
Zolpidem is potent medicine. It is important to alert your physician of any other medications you are taking prior to taking Zolpidem. While some combinations might be safe, some might be extremely dangerous and can cause more harm. Some of the contraindicated drugs include:
Opioids are another potent medicine widely used as analgesics or pain relievers. In fact, they are one of the strongest painkillers in the market. If you are taking painkillers like Fentanyl, Morphine, Tramadol, and cough suppressants like Pholcodine; taking it with Zolpidem can cause severe difficulties in breathing. Waking up is also difficult.
Only take the combination of these two when you are strictly prescribed to do so.
Small dose painkillers like Mefenamic acid, Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can be taken in combination with Zolpidem.
It all boils down to self-control
Even with a prescription, you can only take so much medicine at a time. Zolpidem can cause serious drug dependence. Take it only when prescribed and when you are properly diagnosed by a licensed physician.
Observe and record symptoms that may indicate abnormal sleeping conditions. Consult your doctor right away when you feel like you’re experiencing severe sleeping problems. Never self medicate. Remember that you can only get Zolpidem with a doctor’s prescription.
Always take the prescribed dose of Zolpidem. It is highly advised to take Zolpidem before bedtime and when you are not required to drive or manipulate heavy types of equipment.