Zolpidem may be better known by the trade name Ambien. It has been prescribed since the early 1990s in order to treat sleep disorders. Specifically, zolpidem was touted as a cure for insomnia. It acts very quickly, and in many cases an user can go from administration to sleep in less than 30 minutes. Zolpidem is thus known as a reliable way to help you go to sleep quickly.
We have been trying to devise effective sleep medications for years. Centuries ago, people relied on the poppy to aid in sleep. This plant eventually became the basis for heroin synthesis. When it was discovered that poppy derivatives were also very addictive, use of the drug as a sleep aid naturally stopped.
There have been many other sleeping drugs developed and sold over-the-counter. Their effectiveness has been established, but many of them have side effects. The most common side effect reported among people who take these medicines is a feeling of next-day grogginess. People who take these medications often report they cannot think as clearly the next day and have trouble focusing.
Zolpidem was developed as a drug that offered the same sleep benefits as these over-the-counter drugs, but without the next-day after effects. Those who take zolpidem state that it helps them fall asleep, but for the most part they feel rested and clear-headed the next day. The effectiveness of zolpidem has been demonstrated in helping people fall asleep, although that same effectiveness has not been shown in helping them stay asleep throughout the night.
One interesting aspect of zolpidem history is the reports of strange behavior after taking the drug. When zolpidem began to be used widely, people began to report incidents where they would take the drug then engage in strange behavior that they wouldn't remember the next day. This behavior sometimes including excessive eating. In other words, people would take zolpidem, then go down into their kitchen the next day and found they had eaten a great deal of food. But, they would have no recollection of it.
Other more serious incidents involved taking zolpidem then driving or operating heavy machinery. After some injuries, doctors began stressing that people only should take zolpidem when they are already in bed and ready to go to sleep. Otherwise, the chances of taking a pill and then continuing to engage in waking behavior while technically asleep. This became known as "ambien sleepwalking."
Zolpidem was only available in the form of Ambien for over 15 years, from 1991 to 2007. In 2007, the FDA approved generic Ambien, or zolpidem, to be manufactured. This made the drug available to a much wider group of consumers, as it was available for a decreased price.
Another aspect of zolpidem history is the propensity users have to become dependent on the drug. When people take zolpidem on a long-term basis, it can promote tolerance. This is a term for when it takes more of the drug to produce the same effect. Thus, if someone is taking a low dose of zolpidem, over time they may have to increase their dose. Taking a higher dose on a regular basis can make them more inclined to become dependent on the drug.
Zolpidem dependence can make it difficult for the user to stop taking the drug. A common effect is rebound insomnia, which is a term that describes an inability to sleep after one discontinues using zolpidem. This insomnia can be worse than the trouble sleeping that led the person to originally start taking zolpidem. Withdrawal effects from discontinuing zolpidem can also be much more severe, however. In serious cases, people may experience seizures, delirium, and confusion.
If a patient is having difficulty discontinuing the use of zolpidem, a doctor may recommend a gradual weaning off of the drug. In this case, the doctor will oversee the patient stopping the use of the drug, and will gradually decrease their dose each week. Doing this can make discontinuation of zolpidem use manageable without serious side effects.
All in all, zolpidem has proven to be a very effective sleep aid. Many people have relied on it to help them sleep without affecting their cognitive functioning the next day. As long as it's used safely, it can be very helpful. However, it does have addiction potential, so caution must be taken.