In 1991, Sanofi Aventis developed a sleeping aid called Ambien. Ambien was tested in clicinal trials and found to help those who were suffering from insomnia to sleep. It was sold under the trade name Ambien for 15 years before the FDA approved its manufacture as a generic. Now it is known by several names, but the generic name is zolpidem.
Zolpidem is known as a sedative-hypnotic drug because it calms you down and can induce sleep. It acts on receptors in the brain called GABA receptors. These are the same brain receptors that are affected by popular anxiety-relieving drugs like Valium or Xanax. Although it acts on the same receptor, the effects of zolpidem are slightly different. Whereas Valium and Xanax calm you down, they don't put you right to sleep unless you take higher doses.
Zolpidem became a popular sleep aid quickly because it helps people fall asleep quickly. Additionally, it doesn't have the same after effects that some over-the-counter drugs do. Specifically, people who take OTC sleep aids complain that the day after they take them, they suffer from fatigue and an inability to think clearly. Zolpidem is thought to provide sleep along with next day clarity.
Zolpidem statistics show that it is the most popular prescription sleep aid today. It is usually taken in doses of 5 to 10mg. In fact, if the dose increases above 10mg, it's not thought that it has any greater effect. Thus, people are recommended to stay at 10mg or below when taking it.
Zolpidem is also only recommended for short-term use. If you take zolpidem for more than a week on consecutive nights and your insomnia symptoms don't improve, you should contact your doctor. Regardless of your symptoms, if you continue taking zolpidem for more than 4 weeks you should notify your doctor as well. You should not take zolpidem if you don't have time to get a full night's sleep (~8 hours).
If someone takes zolpidem for longer than 4 weeks, they significantly increase their risk of becoming dependent on the drug. The longer you take zolpidem, the more you need to produce the effects you originally obtained with a 5mg dose. This phenomenon is known as tolerance. It causes increased dosage levels, which make it more probable dependence will occur.
Dependence on zolpidem may not even be recognized until you try to stop taking the drug. Zolpidem statistics indicate that one of the first signs of dependence is rebound insomnia. This occurs when you stop taking zolpidem and experience insomnia that is just as bad (or worse) than the insomnia that prompted you to take the drug in the first place.
Other symptoms of withdrawal can include nausea, fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia. There are also more severe effects like confusion, delirium, seizures, and hallucinations. If any of these more serious effects occur, you should contact your doctor right away.
Some people who take zolpidem can experience a severe allergic reaction. If hives, facial swelling, breathing difficulty, or oral swelling occur, you should stop taking zolpidem right away. The drug also can affect the way you think and act. When you take zolpidem, it should always be after you are already in bed. If you take zolpidem while you're still up and about, it could lead to driving or other behavior that is dangerous while impaired by zolpidem. It's recommended you take caution even in driving when you wake up the morning after taking zolpidem. It has been known to cause fatigue and drowsiness even after the initial effects have worn off.
There has been some recognized danger in buying zolpidem over the Internet. Internet sources may not provide high quality medications and when you buy it over the Internet it could contain impurities. For example, some zolpidem purchased over the Internet was found to contain haloperidal, which is a powerful antipsychotic drug with serious side effects.
If you're going to take zolpidem, you should tell your doctor if you have kidney, liver, or lung disease, as well as sleep apnea or myasthenia gravis. Also, indicate if you have a history of depression or alcoholism. Some alcoholics may have an increased resistance to the effects of zolpidem, making it more likely they will develop a dependence on the drug (due to taking larger amounts).