Tuesday March 31st 2015

How long does Ambien stay in your system?

How long does Ambien stay in your system?

Ambien is a quick-acting drug that is absorbed completely into the body within hours.

Although Ambien can be detected on a urine screen for a couple of days, hair sample drug screens can detect Ambien use, frequency of use and dosing quantities for weeks or months after you take Ambien.  Those who get high on Ambien increase likelihood of addiction.  But if you are using Ambien as prescribed, Ambien drug tests should test negative if you are within therapeutic doses (take a note or prescription to the supervising Medical Officer) . More on Ambien detection here, plus a section at the end for your Ambien questions.

Main Ambien uses

Ambien is prescribed to help people who struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. Ambien works by slowing activity in the brain, causing drowsiness and allowing sleep. Because Ambien causes such extreme sleepiness, it’s not a very good medication for conditions other than sleep disorders.

The main downside to Ambien is the fact that users who can’t get a full 7-8 hours of sleep after taking it will be drowsy and sometimes experience memory problems. A small percentage of people will act out daily activities in their sleep, such as walking around, preparing food, having sex, or driving a car. Obviously, this can be dangerous.

How do you take Ambien?

Ambien comes in tablet form, sometimes as an extended-release medication. Sometimes Ambien also taken as a sublingual (under the tongue) tablet. It’s even available as a spray which is sprayed over the surface of the tongue and absorbed through the mouth. Ambien is very quick-acting in all of these forms.

Peak levels and half life of Ambien

Ambien is absorbed through the GI tract rapidly and completely.   The peak level of Ambien, 200 ng/mL, is reached about 30 minutes after taking a normal dose of 20 mg.  Ambien peak time for effects, is between 1.5-2 hours, and up to 4 hours for Ambien CR.  Typically, the half life of Ambien is about 2 hours in healthy adults. In older patients and those with cirrhosis, the half life can be doubled, taking as long as 4 hours.

Ambien drug testing: How long does Ambien stay in the body?

Because of Ambien’s quick absorption into the body, and short half life, it doesn’t stay in the blood long. Urine testing can detect Ambien for a few days after taking the medication, but for exposure further in the past, hair testing is the best way to detect Ambien.

How long does Ambien stay in hair?

A single dose of Ambien can be detected in hair up to five weeks after exposure. Concentrations range from 1.8 to 9.8 pg/mg. This is good news in criminal cases, where Ambien may be used to facilitate an assault.

How long does Ambien stay in urine?

While Ambien won’t be detected in a standard urine screen, it can be detected in urine using specialized tests. Peak concentrations of Ambien show up about 12 hours after taking Ambien, but can be detected for up to 60 hours after ingestion.

Ambien and addiction

Can you get addicted to Ambien CR or Ambien?  Yes. Ambien can be addictive if taken for longer than 2 weeks. People will very quickly develop a tolerance for the drug and will be unable to get the same therapeutic effects from the medication after 2 weeks of continuous use. There’s also the risk of developing a physical dependence on the drug. Ambien can’t be stopped abruptly after long-term use because of this. However, tolerance and withdrawal alone do not indicate Ambien addiction. Cases of Ambien addiction are also accompanied by drug craving, or obsessive thinking of drug use despite negative life consequences.

Problems with Ambien?

If you’re struggling with an Ambien dependence or addition, there is help available for you. A doctor can help you with gradually reducing your dose so that you can safely and more easily quit. They can also refer you to support groups and therapists, if you’re having trouble staying clean.

Ambien in your system questions

Do you have more questions about Ambien in your system? Please let us know. We are happy to answer your questions about all types of Ambien use. And we try to reply to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response. We are here to help!

Reference sources: PubMed: Windows of detection of zolpidem in urine and hair: application to two drug facilitated sexual assaults
TOXNET: Zolpidem Tartrate

MedlinePlus: Zolpidem

Photo credit: theperplexingparadox

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46 Responses to “How long does Ambien stay in your system?
7:22 am May 14th, 2012

I used ambien to sleep for 5 days, i stopped, now cant sleep, how long will this last?

11:54 am May 16th, 2012

Hi Bob. Insomnia can be persistent. But there are other ways to manage difficulty getting or staying asleep as an alternative to RX sleeping pills. Are you interested in non-drug options for getting to sleep?

1:31 am June 28th, 2012

I am still suffering tremendously from stopping Ambien. Prescribed for approximately 2 years. Was never told of any dangers. Dr. kept on filling prescriptions and offered nothing else. Dr. stopped drug “cold turkey.” How long before the drug leaves my system? How much longer must I go without sleep? Getting about 2-3 hours a night and that toward morning. Really suffering! Mind is in a fog and I worry about doing stuff nd not knowing it. ended up in hospital for 3 days because of it. Is there any help out there?

Would greatly appreciate any help anyone can give me.

8:59 pm June 28th, 2012

Hi Katherine. Oh dear. That sounds really difficult to withdraw from Ambien with no real support. How long has it been since your last dose of Ambien?

From what I’ve read, it can take 3-4 weeks for Ambien to be totally clear from your system and for your bio-rhythm to return to “normal”. In the meantime, others have benefited from taking small doses of diazepam (Valium) before bedtime, in gradually reduced doses. I’d suggest that you talk about this possibility with your doctor, as well as OTHER suggestions for detox. It does not seem right to just leave you to get off Ambien cold turkey. And if you don’t get support, I’d suggest that you seek a second opinion elsewhere.

Jane R
2:52 pm September 11th, 2012

I have been on ambien cr 12.5 mg for about 5 weeks. I only sleep about 5 sometimes 6. My dr put me on it for insomnia. Now found out I have hyperthyroidism. So far the meds I was put on were giving me headaches. Right now I am off thyroid med and I am going to stop taking ambiien. I would rather sleep 5 or 6 hours without ambien cr than 5 or 6 with ambien.

1:11 am September 17th, 2012

Hi I have been taking ambien for about 4 days now, 5mg pill due to my insomnia. I am still a teen!!! I got this terrible sickness from stress and long late night work shifts due to my job. The medication worked perfectly the first time. I actually got 8-9 hours of sleep. The next day I felt completely better and felt sleepy on my own. I didn’t want to take the pill because I already felt sleepy. I took it anyway because my doctor told me to continue the medication. I noticed the next night my head was feeling weird and I lost that natural feeling of being sleepy. I also think I developed a tolerance to ambien because it is not working as good as the first time. This is the first time I’ve ever took any medication to help me sleep. I was wondering if I stop the medication will I get that natural feeling of being sleepy on my own agian? Personally I want to get off the medication as soon as possible because I dont want to become dependent on it, to feel sleepy and to get some sleep. I am wayyy too young to be experiencing this and I really want to get better.

10:47 pm October 19th, 2012

i took abmien about two years ago. woke up in the middle of the night; showered, shaved, got dressed, called a co-worker, and drove off in my car. i returned two hours later and went to sleep. the next day my wife asked me where i went the night before. i had absolutly no recollection of anything that took place. it was only after my co-worker asked me the following week why i had called him so late at night, that i knew my wife was telling me the truth. what a nightmare.
last night, two years later and now retired and liviing in brazil, i went to the doctor because i’ve had trouble sleeping. i told him (my wife interpreted for me) i was alergic to two things. asprin and ambien. so, he prescribes a sleep medicine called stilnox. i take it and all hell breakes loose. what did the guy give me? ambien. the very thing i told him i was alergic to and had such a horrible reaction too. now, i am going crazy. i’m able to write this in one of my few moments of clarity. i hope this gets out of my system fast or i may hurt myself or my wife.
whoever reads this, just a warning. never, ever, take this.

7:59 am October 22nd, 2012

Hi MIKE G. Thanks for sharing more about your experience with Ambien. I hope that you are able to find help for sleeping without the side effects of hypnotics.

9:10 am November 20th, 2012

My mom took ambien cr and made muffins cleaned the kitchen and did laundry. then fell back asleep on the couch in the living room for 5 more hours. It was kinda funny that time,but other times she’d fallen down and gotten hurt. None of us knowing what was going on until the night I saw her mixing muffins at 5 am.

Stephanie Lane
1:41 am November 23rd, 2012

Wow. I’ve heard that Ambien makes some people sleepwalk, even drive in their sleep!
Did you tell her? I think she needs to know she’s doing this and that it’s scaring you.

1:33 pm November 25th, 2012

Yes, i’ve told her, she stopped using the CR one and went back to the regular version.

1:39 pm November 25th, 2012

Matt, try using a store brand alergy pill one with diphenhydramine(benadryl). That is what I take when I cant sleep, and sleep even better because my alergies go away too! Just make sure if you’re going to take it to drink a lot of water, it… dries you out is how i’d describe it. If I take it for a few nights in a row i’ll end up just feeling foggy and slow until I drink a decent amount of water.

2:26 am January 11th, 2013

I’ve taken ambien for years!! I’ve not taken it, I’ve taken it!! I don’t crave it! I use it for sleep!! I’ve had a sleep problem from childhood!! Come up for a solution for insomnia , and I’m game!!

12:35 am January 28th, 2013

I took ambien at about 10 oclock in the evening.. .I had a car accident about 7:30 the nex morning and I received a dui Will the ambien show up in the urine I sumitted. andcan it hold up in court as a dui

9:32 am January 28th, 2013

Hello dmh. Core drug-test panels included for DUI testing usually include cannabis, benzodiazepines, opioids, stimulants (amphetamine, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA), antidepressants and antihistamines, both alone and in combination with alcohol. Yes, drug tests usually hold up in court. But each state has different laws. For more information, contact your state’s attorney general office.

More information here:


6:04 am February 4th, 2013

hi, i took a single dose of ambien. i think it was 10 mg i dont know. it was super tiny. But i asked my friend if i could have one because i couldnt sleep. i havent slept in 3 days and i wasnt able to see my doctor to be prescribed it till monday. I took it on friday. I forgot i had a hair test monday, will it show up?

Ive never done drugs in my life. I passed the same drug test 6 months ago (its for my job)

im panicking. Cause im on prescribed medication just not for ambien. i just completely forgot

10:37 am February 12th, 2013

Hello Aiden. Hair tests usually detect drug use starting ONE WEEK before testing. Given that the use of Ambien DOES NOT fall within this detection window, the illegal use of your friend’s Ambien will probably not be detected.

6:11 pm March 23rd, 2013

Is there a way to make Ambien or Xanax clear the blood stream more quickly?

1:27 pm April 4th, 2013

In the army never took anything before last night took a friends ambien to get some sleep. Next day I had to take a piss test, ok know they don’t test for it but will it bring a false positive? I only took one ever, should I worry?

Jerry Shapiro
4:52 pm April 14th, 2013

I take ambien CR, 10 mg, 4-5 times a week at night. I do sleep pretty well, and don’t have any memory loss, driving a car without knowing it, etc. If I don’t take ambien the next day I experience heavy flushing.

The doctor prescribes this to be taken every night before bed, so that is what I intend to do. What is the main risk of taking it every night?

8:43 am April 15th, 2013

Hello Jerry. Hypnotics are habit forming. In addition to chemical dependence, you may not be getting deep sleep or wake feeling rested. While little is known about the longer term effects of Ambien, it is rarely meant to be prescribed for more than 6 weeks at a time.

8:25 pm May 19th, 2013

how does this leave your body system? for example, does it leave by urine, milk, vomiting, kidneys etc.

7:01 am June 12th, 2013

I quit the ambiens 3 nights ago, to get off the ambien you must be off from work or any activity, because it will still interfere with the time you fall asleep. Look I’m still up and it’s 259 am; however, I took melatonin 6 mg and its making me sleepy. Start by cutting down the mg of ambiens then switch to melatonin, and work out or get yourself tired, do not take any naps during the day. No sugar before bed, drink a cup of milk, no cofee after 4 pm, and try to avoid any heavy meals after 7 pm trust me you will kick off the addiction gradually

10:16 am June 22nd, 2013

just wondering when my tollarance will go down.Ive taken ambien for months and its worked great.now I try trippleing my dose,and noyhing get back

P kearns
2:59 pm June 22nd, 2013

I am take 10 mg per night. I am trying to wean myself off of this. I do not get the sleep I am used to but cannont fall asleep without it. I wanted to know if I cut it down to 5 mg and add a natural substance with it will that be safe.

12:51 pm July 3rd, 2013

Hello P. Thanks for your question, but one that needs to be answered by a medical professional. I’d suggest that you check out some over-the-counter options online and in a pharmacy and then seek advice from the pharmacist. Also, seek a tapering schedule from your prescribing doctor before cutting back on doses to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms which can make the process much more difficult.

5:47 pm July 4th, 2013

Hi all! I am trying to find out how long Ambien stays in blood for a test (yes they are testing specifically for it)? I see that you state “it doesn’t stay in your blood for long” but I need to know what that exactly means, please. I did have a prescription for it and its kind of a long story as to why I need to know this, but if you could let me know I’d really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

11:25 am July 5th, 2013

Hello Dani. Ambien can be detected in blood for around 72 hours after consumption.

7:40 pm September 12th, 2013

I was in a wreck and hurt The police said I was drunk but since i dont drink a year later they said i had ambiem in blood work How is that can i be safe driving if i use this at night i had been on this over 10 years

10:58 am September 13th, 2013

Hello Joyce. This is a good question. Ambien is never meant to be taken longer than a few weeks, or so. It is not intended for long term use because it can start to provoke symptoms such as sleep walking or driving while under the influence. I’d suggest that you look into alternative treatments for sleep issues.

kathy eldridge
7:06 pm November 9th, 2013

my doctor won’t give me anything to help along with the ambien to taper, he wants me to go to rehab. Is there something I can use to help me taper along with the ambien

2:39 pm November 13th, 2013

Hi Kathy. A detox clinic can help answer and prescribe medications that can help during Ambien withdrawal.

12:26 am January 5th, 2014

Hi, I just want to know that I have been on zolpidem 5 mg(not 10 mg) on and off for a duration of 2 months ( total dose within the 2 months period was 115 mg ) . Last dose was probably 36 days ago. Will it show positive in hair if analysed? Please advise . Thank you. Pet.

3:08 am March 10th, 2014

I have taken Zolpidem (Ambien) off and on for a few years. In the beginning, I worked weekends and didn’t want to take it–so on for 5 days and off for 2. I never had any problems with it. If someone called me after I had taken it and gone to bed, I wouldn’t remember the phone call, but that was the extent of my negative experience with it. When I left that job, I started taking it continuously, no nights off, and THAT was when I started having problems. I would eat bizarre concoctions, mostly involving peanut butter. I would get up in the morning and couldn’t figure out why I was out of peanut butter when I had just bought it. Thankfully, I never drove or left the house under its influence. I took myself off of it and it took awhile for it to “lift” and I could definitely feel it physically when it was finally all gone. Some major changes occurred in my life last year and I started taking it again, but I only take half a 10mg and again, don’t take it for two nights. I am not suggesting anyone take it or not take it. I am merely sharing my experience. It’s not for everyone. I am sorry to hear about everyone who has had a horrible experience with it. I am working on my health and planning on discontinuing it for good.

Merrilyn 82 years old
3:23 am June 26th, 2014

I have used zolpidem for about 20 years. I used other things in place of it at a trial basis but nothing really works. My concern and problem is memory loss: I have brain deprivation. I wonder if zolpidem is the problem, (plus soooo many nights without any sleep in the process of finding something that works dependably). By getting totally off of it, will healing to the brain be restored?

12:14 am July 19th, 2014

Very upset
I took one 10mg ambien at 11pm after i ate at 10pm
Went to bed. Woke up at 630 felt fine drove my car at 1030 am next morning I didnt make complete stop at stop sign got pulled over i was given field soberity test i must have failed arrested and now i have to wait 2 months for toxicology test before i go to court should my blood levels be over the Limit
after atleast 11 to 12 hours since taking my prescription ? Very worried wish my DR would have
Said something … PS i have hep c
Thank you larry

2:17 pm August 24th, 2014

I was on ambien for at least the last 6 years and haven’t slept that well at all in those 6 years. I am recently 5 days ambien free and finally becoming a morning person again. I was on 10mg a night, in June I went to 5mg, and in July I want to 2.5mg. It took about 6 weeks at 2.5mg until I finally was able to kick it. I have switched to trazadone to help me sleep, it is a much safer medication. I feel awake and refreshed in the morning, I am sleeping better than ever and feel better too. I highly recommend anyone who has been on it for a while to change off of it, you will feel better in the end. Also get your doctor to help and support you doing this. You will thank them later.

12:33 pm September 20th, 2014

My boyfriend has a very adverse reaction to ambien. He abuses it. He will not take what is prescribed. He usually will take 2 and then take several more over the course of a few hours. He becomes very weepy and talks of suicide. He’s often incoherent and is unstable physically. He never remembers any of these events and so when he “comes out,” has no idea of the path of destruction he has left in his wake. I’ve given him ultimatums about his use and he had been great up until last night and the previous night. He ran out to get us ice cream and said he to pick up a prescription for testosterone. Of course I didn’t realize until a few minutes ago that it was ambien. He had a script for 30 on September 18, and now there’s two left. I’ve hidden them and I’m waiting for him to come out of it before I confront him. He’s taken it with alcohol and also tamazapam. I thought he’d taken all of the tamazapam and that would explain his erratic behavior, but after more serious snooping, I found the ambien.

10:10 pm September 20th, 2014

My dr sends off my urine to test for drugs. How long can ambien be detected in those tests?

9:57 am September 22nd, 2014

Hello Kelly. Ambien will not show up in a common urine drug test. However, there is a specific test that can be used to detect Ambien in the blood or urine for up to 48 hours after ingestion. But this test is very expensive, so I can hardly believe, they’ll be testing for it. Otherwise, Ambien is rapidly eliminated from the body and is usually undetectable within 6-14 hours.

3:27 am November 25th, 2014

I have an 89 year old Aunt who was taking Ambien nightly for the past couple of years. No one could get her to stop taking it and she even passed out once in the Bathroom, and was seriously hurt. We all told her to get off it, but she HAD to have it or she couldn’t sleep. Now she’s read an article about how bad it is, so she stopped using it a month ago. But she still shakes, and forgets things and when we try to help her, she screams “It’s the Ambien!!!” So, my question is, since she was taking it so long, will the drug remain in her system longer? or is it already out of her system at this point?

12:20 pm November 28th, 2014

Hi Jeff. By now Ambien is long gone from your aunt’s system. Now, her whole organism and her brain are trying to go back to normal and get used to not having the chemical around. This process, however, causes these symptoms of shakiness, sleeplessness and forgetfulness. That’s how it is with medications, when you stop using the same effect you used to take them to treat are produced. But, it get’s a lot better in time. Talk to a doctor to see how you can minimize these symptoms and make your aunt feel more comfortable.

7:22 am February 2nd, 2015

ambien in my blood system was 0.57mg and i had 8.5 hours of sleep.i am being charge dui. But i told police i was sick which i have document.i take 10mg and i feel like its a small amount left. Need opinion.

Lab Rat
10:29 pm March 9th, 2015

I have a prescription for 10mg of zolpidem. How long can it be detected in the bloodstream? I am volunteering for clinical studies, and the blood screening will be very comprehensive: I want to make sure there will not be a detectable amount in my blood work (I am a 32-year-old female). Thank you!

10:42 pm March 19th, 2015

@lab rat Just don’t take any Ambien for the previous 3 days, If you can…. but if you start taking this med, you will not be able to stop taking it for 3 days without using something else to sleep. After taking Ambien for 3 months , I have decided to stop because of the tolerance and lack of effectiveness over time. I am now at my 4th days without using it and I have slept only 6 hours in all those days. I am feeling dizzy like a hangover. An advice to everyone who decide to use it. Don’t you ever drink more than a few drinks of alcohol because it can be very dangerous. It is highly recommended to avoid alcohol because , like me, you can wake up the day after and wonder why you’re not dead. The feeling of this type of hangover is totally bad and can last for days. It scared me so much that I have decided to quit taking Ambien and alcohol since then …

4:03 am March 20th, 2015

What is the highest amount you can take that will not show up on a lab screen and will it count as against my current felony probation

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