The prescription sleeping aid Ambien (generic name zolpidem) is considered a sanity-saver by many people, because it helps them fall asleep even when they're super-stressed out, in an uncomfortable hotel bed with noisy neighbors in the next room, or in just about any scenario where sleep is elusive.
But even though these drugs aren't dangerously habit forming the way past generations of sleeping pills were, there are potentially dangerous side effects of Ambien, the most common being that drugs can leave you drowsy the next morning. (More rarely, a small percentage of patients taking Ambien/zolpidem report sleep walking, sleep eating, and even having sex without gaining consciousness.)
Morning drowsiness caused by the drug can be so serious that the FDA has issued a new warning about it—one that's especially important for women to read. New data show that blood levels of zolpidem in some patients may remain high enough the next morning to impair activities that require alertness, like driving. This risk appears to be higher for women (they clear the drug from their bodies more slowly). The research has found that the extended release form of the drugs is the most likely to result in morning-after drowsiness.
Because of these worrying new findings, the FDA is recommending that manufacturers of zolpiem (also sold as Edluar and Zolpimist) lower the recommended dose. You can read the full FDA warning here.
If you need help sleeping and are looking for non-drug solutions, check out the natural sleep remedies found in these articles:
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