- Risks of Ambien: Adverse Reactions, Dependence, Discontinuation Symptoms

What Are Some Side Effects of Ambien?

Ambien (generic name: zolpidem tartrate) was created to provide relief from insomnia without the side effects of barbiturate drugs. However, Ambien can have serious side effects on the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, and sensory systems.

Physical Side Effects

When taken as directed, Ambien can cause potential reactions such as fast or irregular heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, appetite loss, double vision, pinpoint pupils, respiratory depression, muscle cramps, skin rashes, and irregular body movements. Some people have had a deadly allergic reaction to zolpidem.

Psychological Impairment

Ambien is a non-benzodiazepine sleep-inducing medication that can cause adverse cognitive or mental side effects such as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, confusion about place or time, loss of passion effect, loss of pleasure in daily life, depression, suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and nightmares.

Sleepwalking and Other Activities

Taking Ambien before sleeping can cause some people to experience episodes of sleep practices such as eating, drinking, driving, having sex, and holding conversations with others. These activities occur while the person is asleep and unaware. Some patients have experienced a behavior called nocturnal eating disorder or sleep-related eating disorder after taking Ambien.

Sleep Driving

Ambien can lead to complex behaviors while sleeping such as sleep-driving. The use of alcohol and other drugs that depress the central nervous system increases the risk of parasomnias, especially complex and dangerous ones like sleep-driving. The person will get up, get into their car, and start driving as usual without being conscious or fully awake.

Sleep Eating

Sleep eating is another dangerous activity that people may perform while experiencing an Ambien blackout. Without remembering, a person may get up and eat, which could be harmful to people who are trying to lose weight or who have a regulated diet for other health reasons.

Having Sex While Asleep

Having sex during an Ambien blackout may lead to contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV and herpes. While people with partners or spouses are more likely to experience this parasomnia, it is possible that a person may take Ambien, sleepwalk, and start sexual contact with a stranger or colleague.

Abuse, Addiction, and Withdrawal

Ambien can create tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal, all signs of potentially addictive drugs. One of the most severe side effects of using Ambien is the chance of becoming chemically dependent on the medication or requiring Ambien to feel good and function normally. People at risk of addiction include those who take Ambien for longer than two weeks, those who take more than the recommended dose, and recreational users.


Regardless of a person’s level of Ambien abuse, drug rehabilitation programs offer a way to recover physical and mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with Ambien addiction, seek professional help immediately.

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