Ambien (Zolpidem) is…
a sedative/hypnotic drug designed to depress central nervous system activity. Ambien CR, is a time release form of Ambien composed of two layers. A quickly dissolving first layer rapidly leads to sleep and a slowlydissolving second layer aids with sleep throughout the night.
Ambien May Work in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Because..
it enhances the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA that turns down brain activity. Several physicians believe ME/CFS patient’s brains may be ‘overactive’.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Studies
No studies have examined the effectiveness of Ambien in ME/CFS.
ME/CFS Physicians Report
Ambien’s effectiveness and few side effects make it the first choice for Dr. Teitelbaum (5-15 mgs.)and it is recommended by many ME/CFS physicians. If while using Ambien you tend to wake early Dr. Teitelbaum recommends you switch to the newer (more expensive) time released verson, Ambien CR or chew on half a tablet or so.
Dr. Klimas, on the other hand, does not recommend Ambien, stating that while short-acting hypnotics such as Ambien may help you get to sleep they don’t help you stay asleep and can trap you in the lighter alpha stages of sleep. She recommends tricyclic anti-depressants such as elavil and, in particular, doxepin elixir, first.
Like any drug ME/CFS patients can be expected to display a wide variety of responses to Ambien
Recommended dose is from 2.5 to 10 mgs. at bedtime. Total amount should not exceed 10 mg/day. The lowest effective dosage should be taken to avoid side effects.
According to RxList approximately 4% of the people taking Ambien in its premarketing clinical trials discontinued it because of side effects. The most common side effect was headache followed by drowsiness, dizziness and nausea. Long term trials suggested that headache was by far the most common side effect (15-20%) with lower levels (1-5%) of a large variety of central nervous system and gastrointestinal symptoms (dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, lethary, nausea, etc). Side effects are more likely at higher doses.
Ambien should not be taken with alcohol. Inform your physician if you are taking other central nervous system antidepressant drugs.
The Sleep Series on Phoenix Rising
- Sleep hygiene
- Prescriptions for sleep
- Alternative therapies
- Sleep apnea
- Doing a sleep study
- Sleep resources