Lack of sleep creates stress on the body, leading to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Sleep is absolutely critical to our health and well-being. And while it’s recommended we get an average of 8 hours sleep a night; ultimately, it’s the quality of sleep that’s more important.
But for many of us, a good nights sleep just doesn’t happen. This may be due to undiagnosed, or inadequately treated, sleep apnea; or it could be the cares and concerns of life. Some people just can’t ‘turn their brains off’, and racing thoughts keep them awake. It could any number of things.
So what do you do if you can’t sleep? Well, it’d be nice if we could just identify the reason, and eliminate that. But for many, it’s not that simple. Thankfully, there are alternatives; and among them is a sleeping pill called Ambien (Zolpidem).
But let’s take a closer look at this little guy.
Ambien, like other sleeping pills, works on the same part of the brain as drugs which treat anxiety. And some of Ambien’s success might be just that; by treating a persons anxiety, it helps them relax so they can actually fall asleep.
Interestingly, studies indicate that the patients monitored in a lab reported better sleep after taking Ambien then what the researchers actually observed. So it would seem it is more the reduction in anxiety, then increased sleep that makes a person feel better; a least in some cases.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of Ambien’s side effects.
Among the more common ones are:
- Daytime drowsiness, loss of coordination, dizziness.
- Dry mouth, sore throat, stuffy nose.
- Nausea, constipation, diarrhea
Ambien also contains Lactose, so just be aware of that as well.
Other, more serious side effects include:
Other, more serious side effects include:
- Memory loss, difficulty with concentration.
- Auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as delusional thinking.
- Liver problems. Severe allergic reaction.
- Chest pain, fast and/or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath.
Additionally, Ambien is really only meant for short term usage, so it shouldn’t be taken for more than 5 weeks without your Doctor’s advice; not only because of the rather nasty side effects but also because it tends to be habit forming.
However, I know one guy who’s been taking it for several years with no bad side effects. But I also know another guy who’s concerned about the effects he is suffering and wanted to know more about Ambien. Which is, in fact, why I wrote this article
Then there’s the gender difference because Ambien’s side effects are more pronounced in women; as a result, It’s recommended that women take a smaller dose than men. In fact, men are usually prescribed 10 mg, or 12.5mg if extended release; whereas for women, the recommended dose is 5mg.
And talk to your Doctor about drug interactions with any other medications you’re taking; as there can be unexpected interactions. And some of these can cause symptoms that may lead to a misdiagnosis.
Also be extra careful if you drink alcohol, take any prescription pain pill, or any anti-anxiety medication; because Narcotics make you breathe slower, and anti-anxiety meds cause drowsiness. Combine these with a sleeping pill and you could be asking for trouble.
There are other, more safe options available.
Alternatives To Ambien
A sleeping pill may be only masking the real issue, although it’s not always easy to determine what that real issue is. Yet understanding the dangers of Ambien, just might be enough to send you looking for other ways to accomplish this.
Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Melatonin is a hormone which is naturally produced by your brain and makes you drowsy. Its output is hindered by light; thus, lowering any light source, including closing your eyes, will increase its levels.
The recommended dose is 0.3-1mg. And yet we typically see over-the-counter Melatonin in 3-10 mg doses, or 10 times the recommended dose!. This is where the trouble comes in because too much melatonin in your brain can make it misbehave and react just the opposite to the hormone; thus actually increasing insomnia.
Some studies show melatonin as effective as Ambien; and just like with any medicine, neither Ambien nor melatonin work for everyone.
The most common side effects of too much Melatonin include Daytime sleepiness, headaches, and dizziness.
Interestingly, some studies show melatonin as effective as ambien. But just like with any medicine, neither ambien nor melatonin work for everyone.
So if you’ve tried Melatonin and it didn’t seem to work for you, maybe you were just taking too much(?).
Other Things To Try
- Herbal teas, such as Chamomile, Valerian Root, Lavender, and St. Johns Wort; to name just a few.
- High Carb bedtime snack, White noise, meditation, soft music.
- Setting a regular bedtime.
- Lifestyle changes…Do you have any habits that interfere with sleep? Turn off the t.v. Smartphone, pad etc..
There are a number of reasons why you can’t sleep, and there are also a number of solutions. Unfortunately, even though Ambien can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, it can also create a whole new set of problems.
(And yes, there are quite a few other medications that can help you sleep, but I’ve focused specifically on Ambien because I had someone ask me about it.)
Now I’m not a Doctor, and I can’t tell you what to do, but I do want to get relevant information out to you. So if you, or anyone you know, has any concern about Ambien, or any other sleeping pill; or if you just want more information on alternative treatments, leave a comment below. I’ll respond to any appropriate questions or concerns.
Also, don’t forget to leave your email address so you can continue to receive timely information on topics all about sleep.
Till next time…Blessings.