Ambien Precautions and Warnings
There are several Ambien precautions and warnings to be aware of before starting this drug. These warnings relate to topics such as alcohol use, pregnancy risks, and carryover effects of the drug. People who are allergic to Ambien or any component of zolpidem tartrate should not take the medication at all. Those who have depression, liver disease, or sleep apnea should notify their healthcare provider prior to beginning Ambien treatment.
Prior to taking Ambien® (zolpidem tartrate), you should notify your healthcare provider if you have:
- Sleep apnea or other type of respiratory disease, such as emphysema or COPD
- Liver disease or liver failure
- Kidney disease or kidney failure
- Any sort of addiction
- Any allergies to medicines.
Let your healthcare provider know if you:
- Are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant
- Are breastfeeding
- Drink alcohol.
Also, tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you may currently be taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Some precautions and warnings to be aware of with Ambien include:
- In January 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lowered the recommended dosage for Ambien for women and suggested that a lower dosage be considered for men as well. This change was made because the lower dosage is less likely to cause morning drowsiness, which can interfere with your ability to do anything that requires alertness, such as driving (see Ambien Dosage for more information).
- There are certain other medications that Ambien can interact with (see Ambien Drug Interactions).
- If you drink alcohol, let your healthcare provider know prior to starting Ambien. People should not use alcohol when taking Ambien because it can increase the risks of developing Ambien side effects.
- Ambien is a pregnancy Category C medicine. This means that it may not be safe for use in pregnancy (see Ambien During Pregnancy).
- If you are nursing, it is recommended that you do not take Ambien. Therefore, if you are taking Ambien, discuss with your healthcare provider whether you should stop nursing or discontinue Ambien.
- Ambien is considered a hypnotic/sedative type of medication. If you notice any changes in your behavior, such as anything unusual and/or disturbing, while taking Ambien or other sleep medicines, notify your healthcare provider immediately.
- People who are elderly or debilitated can be quite sensitive to the effects of Ambien. Because of this, a lower dosage of Ambien is generally recommended. When taking Ambien, make sure you have at least seven or eight hours to sleep.
- Ambien not only acts quickly, it can produce carryover effects the next day. Therefore, when starting Ambien, do not do anything that requires complete alertness, such as driving, operating machinery, or piloting an airplane.
- Sedative-hypnotic medications (such as Ambien) can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. An allergic reaction to Ambien can occur even with your first dose of the drug. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any signs of an allergic reaction, such as an unexplained rash, itching, hives, wheezing or trouble breathing, or unexplained swelling (especially of the throat, lips, or mouth).
- There have been reports of "sleep-driving," "sleep-eating," or other unusual behaviors in people taking sedative-hypnotic medications. In general, people do not remember doing these things when they wake up in the morning. These activities can be dangerous, since people are not fully awake or alert.
- Ambien has been known to cause memory loss (amnesia), when a person cannot remember what has happened for several hours after taking the medicine. This can be a problem for people who use Ambien when traveling. Unless a person is able to get seven to eight hours of sleep, Ambien is not recommended.
- After a couple of weeks, Ambien may lose its effectiveness in helping people sleep. This is why Ambien should only be used for a short period of time (one to two days). If you are still having trouble sleeping after one to two weeks of taking Ambien, make sure to let your healthcare provider know.
- Withdrawal symptoms are possible with Ambien if it is used daily for a long period of time (see Ambien Withdrawal).
- Rebound insomnia is possible when people stop taking Ambien. Rebound insomnia is when a person has difficultly sleeping after stopping sleep medicine. This usually improves within one to two days.
- Ambien can be addicting. Make sure you do not take the medicine for longer than 30 days (see Ambien Addiction).