There are many medications and supplements available to treat insomnia. Ambien is one with potentially unusual side-effects.
Zolpidem (Ambien, Intermezzo) is a “short-acting nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic” that can be prescribed for insomnia. It generally works within 15 minutes to produce sleep, and it can help to maintain sleep in its controlled-release form. Zolpidem can have serious side-effects if taken in large doses; therefore, the FDA recommended that the dosage of Ambien be cut in half. Large doses can lead to drowsiness-related car accidents, for example. Other typical side-effects include vomiting, dizziness, headaches, anterograde amnesia, hallucinations, delusions, poor motor coordination, euphoria, dysphoria, changes in appetite and libido, impulsivity, and decrease in social inhibitions. Just stopping the medication can lead to a rebound in insomnia. There are some new and unusual side-effects that can occur from zolpidem, such as sleepwalking, binge eating, and “sexual parasomnia episodes”.1 From 2005-2010, the number of patients taking Ambien and ending up in the ER had “increased by nearly 220%. Many of the visits involved people combining zolpidem with other medications.2 Because of the sleepwalking that is possible, some patients may leave their home and drive while under the influence of zolpidem. They might not recall what behaviors they had while using the medications. Others have reported online shopping or gambling, making phone calls, sleep eating (of foods and non-foods), and some have even gone to jail.3
Other Medications and Supplements
There are also many over-the-counter sleep aids, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) that can offer short-term solutions to occasional bouts of insomnia. It is important that these kinds of medications are not used long term because they can require a higher dosage to achieve sleep, and there can be a “psychological addiction” component. Also, OTC medications contain their own side-effects.4 Supplements for sleep include valerian or melatonin, the latter of which is a natural hormone that regulates the circadian (sleep-wake) cycles. Chamomile tea is another natural supplements for sleep. Again, short-term use is the key, and alcohol should not be combined with any of the supplements.5
Sometimes the inability to sleep well is related to sleep position, the mattress or pillow, or pains in the body. Chiropractic care can offer natural solutions to sleep issues. Chiropractors can help patients by giving advice about nutrition, sleep hygiene, and the sleep environment. They can help to put the body back into alignment so that muscle and joint discomforts are relieved. They can also help recommend appropriate sleeping positions, pillows, or even mattress types.6
Find out how chiropractic can help with insomnia.