Zolpidem is used as a sleeping pill to treat insomnia. It has been shown to put patients to sleep faster and keep them asleep longer. Sleeping pills generally are not prescribed for more than 10 days and are usually taken intermittently as needed to avoid problems with addiction, loss of effectiveness, and rebound phenomena.
Zolpidem should be taken without food at bedtime to induce a rapid onset of sleep. Zolpidem is metabolized by the liver and dosages need to be decreased in patients with liver dysfunction (hepatitis). Lower doses should be used in the elderly because of their decreased ability to metabolize the medication.
Drug Class and Mechanism
Zolpidem belongs to a class of medicines that effects the central nervous system, called sedative hypnotics. Zolpidem is closely related to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs cause sedation, muscle relaxation, act as anti-convulsants (anti-seizure), and have anti-anxiety properties. Zolpidem has selectivity in that it has little of the muscle relaxant or anti-seizure effect and more of the sedative effect. Therefore, it is used as a medication for sleep.
Since zolpidem is usually taken only if you need it to help you sleep, missing a dose will not cause any problems. Take the missed dose only if you can be sure that you will get 7 or 8 full hours of sleep after the dose. If you do not sleep for 7 or 8 full hours, you may experience carryover effects from zolpidem after you wake up.
Zolpidem should be stored at room temperature in a tight container.
Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. Zolpidem will cause drowsiness and may cause dizziness. If you experience drowsiness or dizziness, avoid these activities. Zolpidem should be taken just before bedtime. You may experience some carryover effects the next day. Do not drink alcohol while taking zolpidem. Alcohol will increase drowsiness and may increase dizziness while you are taking zolpidem, which could be dangerous. Avoid other sedatives, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers, including over-the-counter preparations. They should not be used while you are taking zolpidem unless your doctor directs otherwise.
Possible Side Effects
The most common side effects of Zolpidem are drowsiness, dizziness, and a "drugged" feeling, which probably reflect the action of the drug. Other side effects include confusion, insomnia, euphoria, ataxia (balance problems), and visual changes.
If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking zolpidem and seek emergency medical attention: an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, face, or tongue; hives); or hallucinations, abnormal behavior, or severe confusion. Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take zolpidem and talk to your doctor if you experience: headache, drowsiness, dizziness, or clumsiness; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation; depression; muscle aches or pains; vivid or abnormal dreams; or amnesia (memory loss) after a dose.A problem that may occur when sleep medicines are stopped is known as "rebound insomnia." This means that a person may have more trouble sleeping the first few nights after the medicine is stopped than before starting the medicine. If you should experience rebound insomnia, do not get discouraged. This problem usually goes away on its own after 1 or 2 night
s.Zolpidem is habit-forming. Stopping this medication suddenly can cause withdrawal effects if you have taken it continuously for several weeks. Talk to your doctor about the safe use of this medication. Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.