Sleeping Tablets

What is Zolpidem and Its Uses?

20 Apr 2023

Have you had one of those nights where your mind is racing with numerous thoughts, making it impossible to rest properly? If yes, you might be familiar with Zolpidem, a medication prescribed to those struggling with insomnia. Here, we will explore what Zolpidem is, how it works, its various uses, potential side effects, and precautions you should take before using it. Read on to comprehensively understand Zolpidem and how it can contribute to a better night's sleep. 

Understanding Zolpidem

Zolpidem (brand names Ambien and Intermezzo) is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant in the sedative-hypnotic class of medications. It is widely known for its ability to treat insomnia by helping individuals fall asleep more quickly and for longer durations. Zolpidem is available in various forms, including immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, and sublingual tablets (dissolvable under the tongue).

Zolpidem works by affecting the levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that acts as a natural calming agent. By enhancing the effects of GABA, Zolpidem reduces brain activity and helps individuals fall asleep more easily.

Uses of Zolpidem

The primary use of Zolpidem is to treat insomnia, specifically for those who have difficulty falling asleep. In addition, this medication is typically prescribed for short-term use (2 to 4 weeks) to break the habit of sleeplessness.

Insomnia can result from various factors, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or even some medications. Zolpidem effectively promotes sleep, helping people fall asleep more quickly, sleep for more extended periods, and experience fewer awakenings throughout the night.

In some cases, Zolpidem has also been used off-label to treat other sleep-related issues such as sleepwalking, night terrors, or restless legs syndrome. However, it is vital to note that these are not approved medication uses and should always be discussed with a healthcare professional.

Side Effects of Zolpidem

As with any medication, Zolpidem carries the risk of potential side effects. The most common ones include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, and gastrointestinal issues like nausea or constipation. However, in most cases, these adverse effects are mild and wear off as the body adjusts to the medication.

However, there can be more severe side effects such as memory disturbances, sleepwalking, worsening depression, or unusual behaviour. Therefore, it is crucial to contact your GP immediately if you experience any of these side effects or others that are not listed, as they may indicate a problematic reaction to the medication.

Precautions and Interactions

Before taking Zolpidem, inform your healthcare provider of any other medications you may be taking, as several drugs can interact with Zolpidem negatively. For instance, combining Zolpidem with other sedatives or CNS depressants can worsen the risk of side effects. In addition, individuals with a history of addiction or substance abuse should not use it. Finally, do not take Zolpidem with food or right afterwards, as food decreases absorption, delaying sleep onset.

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Zolpidem, as it can exacerbate the medication's sedative effects. Follow the dosage instructions carefully, and do not exceed the recommended amount.