Saturday March 28th 2015

How long does Ambien withdrawal last?

How long does Ambien withdrawal last?

Doctors do not recommend you take Ambien for longer than a couple of weeks at a time.  Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative-hypnotic that reduces activity in the brain to allow for sleep.  So, whether you are treating Ambien addiction or just wanting to detox from Ambien for a while, you’ve come to the right place.

If you have become physically or psychologically dependent on Ambien, you are not alone. But what is withdrawal from Ambien like? What are symptoms of Ambien withdrawal and how long do they last?  More here about the withdrawal process of Ambien and what occurs over the course of the first couple of weeks when you stop taking Ambien. We also invite you to ask any questions about Ambien you may have at the end.

How long until Ambien withdrawal starts?

After your last dose of Ambien, onset of withdrawal symptoms can manifest a few hours to a couple of days later. Withdrawal symptoms are not as likely if you’re using Ambien within the prescribed two week period, but minor symptoms may still present themselves. A common symptom to experience with onset withdrawal is rebound insomnia. You may also have feelings of apprehension, restlessness, and increased anxiety. Other possible symptoms of withdrawal from Ambien which have been reported include:

  • abdominal cramps
  • dysphoria
  • depression
  • memory loss
  • panic attacks
  • psychosis
  • shakes
  • vomiting

Ambien withdrawal timeline

Ambien affects each person differently. Those who are also diagnosed with Ambien addiction or who have developed extreme dependency on zolpidem may experience a more difficult withdrawal process. However, overall symptoms start a few hours to a couple of days after your last dose of Ambien and can last for several weeks after peak symptoms have resolved. Below is a general outline of Ambien withdrawal and what symptoms to expect within each time frame.

24 – 72 hours after last Ambien dose – In this phase of Ambien withdrawal, you may experience bouts of confusion and memory loss. You could experience mood changes and have increased feelings of fearfulness and anxiety. For some people, hallucinations and psychosis are possible(his is on the more severe end of the spectrum). You may also have a harder time sleeping again or experience shakes and vomiting.

Week 1 after stopping Ambien – Sleep disturbance can still be present. Some people withdrawing from Ambienhave reported nightmares and continued anxiety. As you have used Ambien to sleep, these first few days can be almost unbearable as sleeping disturbances return. Drug craving is a challenge during this week.

Week 2 after stopping Ambien – Symptoms of withdrawal tend to even out and you can begin to feel normal again. Drug cravings, depression, and mood swings may still be present. Rebound insomnia should even out around this time, as well, unless you suffer from chronic insomnia. During this phase of withdrawal, symptoms can include possible panic attacks and increased psychological need for zolpidem.

Weeks 3-4 after stopping Ambien – If you have been taking Ambien appropriately you should no longer be experiencing symptoms. However, others who have grown psychologically dependent on zolpidem or who abuse Ambien still experience psychological symptoms around this time. Some may return to having trouble getting or staying asleep.

How long do Ambien withdrawal symptoms last?

Overall withdrawal symptoms of Ambien withdrawal will affect you within the first 72 hours after your last dose of Ambien. Rebound insomnia will manifest during this time as well. Symptoms of Ambien withdrawal can last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks after your last dose of Ambien. Most symptoms should resolve themselves after a month after your last dose of Ambien. After this period, you may still experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome for several months. Hang in there and know that eventually you will feel a sense of normalcy return. Cravings and psychological needs may still be present for some people well after Ambien is no longer present in the body.

Ambien withdrawal: how long?

Ambien affects each person differently depending on the dosage and how long you have been taking Ambien. For those who have developed a dependency on zolpidem, a longer withdrawal period is expected. They will also experience the more uncomfortable or intense symptoms of withdrawal.

In general, if you’re taking Ambien you need to be careful of its physical dependency. Ambien is one of those medications with a likelihood of developing a dependence. Take Ambien only as prescribed by your doctor. Ambien is not a cure of chronic insomnia and should not be used as such. Doing this insures less likelihood of major withdrawal symptoms.

Additionally, former Ambien users have reported suffering Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) after Ambien usem, which is a set of persistent symptoms that occur right after you stop taking Ambien and persist for several weeks to months after you last doseof Ambien. Insomnia, nightmares, depression and anxiety are typical of Ambien PAWS symptoms. Psychological effects of addiction and dependence may also still be present long after you are no longer taking Ambien.

How long Ambien withdrawal questions

If you have any more questions regarding withdrawal from Ambien please ask. We do our best to respond to your accurately and promptly.

Reference Sources: FDA: Ambien Drug Label
National Library of Medicine: Modest abuse-related subjective effects of zolpidem in drug-naпve volunteers
DailyMed: Ambien CR
National Library of Medicine: Zolpidem withdrawal delirium 

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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63 Responses to “How long does Ambien withdrawal last?
5:08 pm March 21st, 2013

Twelve weeks ago I was prescribed 10mg of Zolpidem for insomnia.
For the past six weeks I’ve been very gradually tapering the dose to the point where I am now taking about one third of a 5mg tablet. I have also been taking 2mg slow release Melatonin with no adverse effects of combining these medications.
I may have dreamt it but I recall reading somewhere that once Zolpidem is discontinued it should never be taken again – not even a very low dose for just a few days or all the side effects and withdrawal symptoms will return necessitating another prolonged tapering programme. Is this correct or am imaging it ?

Betty Rickenbacker
7:47 pm March 27th, 2013

I have been on ambien (generic brand) for about a year and do not want to continue. My Internist said when I stopped taking it the only thing that would happen would be that I would not sleep for a couple of nights and it was not addictive. What is your response to this? Thanks.

2:39 pm March 28th, 2013

Hello Betty. I’d suggest that you consult with a pharmacist for an expert opinion on Ambien dependence – physical dependence on zolpidem. We suspect some doctors of down-playing the risks and realities of prescription drug dependence. So, with more information, you can make an informed decision about whether to taper your doses as you stop taking Ambien, or not.

2:32 am April 11th, 2013

I’ve been taking Ambien CR 12.5 mg for 12 years. I rarely take more than one a night even though it only keeps me asleep about 4 hours now. I got a new doc when we moved to Calif. and she freaked out about it all and said I would be addicted the rest of my life, that since I am 58 I will have to take it the rest of my life. I think she was issuing me a challenge so I cut the CR in half about a month ago and have only been taking half dose and doing pretty good. I have not told my doc yet. I started having serious W/D symptoms last night and am in pretty bad shape right now which only confirms I need to completely quit right now. I’ve decided I’m not taking any more starting tonight. I’m worried about the seizure part. What should I do? Would it be better to now split the pill again to a quarter than to go cold turkey? I see my doc in a week, would it be appropriate to ask her for valium to help me off? I’m sick of this drug controlling my ability to sleep.

5:04 am April 11th, 2013

Hello Tori. I’d suggest that you call your doctor immediately and ask for suggestions. Usually a tapering regime should be implemented under doctor supervision, because factors for dosing are unique to each person…and it’s possible that a 50% decrease in Ambien is too much for you to handle. Seek medical advice to either continue with the withdrawal, or to ease up and change dosing so that it takes 4-6 weeks to get off Ambien. Good luck!

julie o'neal
5:19 pm April 11th, 2013

I have cut my dose from 10mgs into 1/3. Whaen do I just completly stop? I have been so moody and depressed that its hard to function. Do I just keep going? once Im not taking any at all how long will I feel this way when I have been feeling it since I started decreasing the dose?

8:37 am April 15th, 2013

Hi Julie. Please consult with your prescribing doctor for an individualized tapering calendar and advice. Tapering should always be completed under medical supervision.

9:44 pm May 2nd, 2013

I have been taking ambien nightly for 6 years. No daytime side effects plus am Abe to get up if necessary during the night. Should I be worried

8:03 am May 7th, 2013

Hello Brenda. The long term effects of taking Ambien (for more than 6 months at a time) are not well known. Check in with your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist to air out your concerns about long term use.

6:50 pm May 19th, 2013

I have been on ambien for going on 20 yrs. It was prescribed to me after I had a ceribal aneurysm. My doctor put me on it. As sleep became harder, she increased the dosage to 10, then 20 mgs. I have reduced my intake to 10mg. Would it be advisable to decrease my dosage down to 5 and finally stop taking the medicine all together?

4:16 am May 20th, 2013

Hello Linda. I’d suggest that you speak with your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist about dose decreases. However, it’s a good idea to wait for approval before making dose changes.

10:31 am June 2nd, 2013

I took Ambien because i had side effects from a herbal supplement that was causing insomnia. I took it for 6 weeks but was scared taking it throughout the whole time (Ambien). Last Tuesday May 27th was my last dosage. I was getting concerned as I started feeling depression around May 18th, about a month into it. Since stopping last Tuesday May 27th my depression has increased and my insomnia has been every other day. Last Tuedsay I didn’s sleep, Wednesday I did, Thursady i didn’t, Friday evening I did and today Saturday June 1 no sleep,insomnia. I feel like i am going crazy!!!! I can’t funvtion as a mom, wife or at work. Is this normal?? I also get headaches and my mouth is dry on and off throughout the day. I feel really down the days that I don’t sleep. The days that I sleep my mood is better, Please Help!!!!!

10:38 am June 2nd, 2013

Also, my doctor said I canquit cold turkey. The only thing she said was that I would be miserable for a few nights due to rebound insomnia. i’m sacred about my health & well being now.

8:54 am June 3rd, 2013

Hello Laura. The symptoms that you describe seem to fit those of Ambien withdrawal. There are some things that you can do: exercise for 30-60 minutes daily, take caffeine out of your diet, and consider meditation. This too, shall pass, although it seems very painful and uncomfortable right now.

7:49 pm June 5th, 2013

Is it normal to last this long? One week ago I stopped cold turkey. I slept Sunday & Monday night but last night I didn’t. I know it’s hard to predict but what is the average time to recover from this, took it for 6 weeks. heard that if you ate cherries you can increase your natural melatonin. Thank you for your comments they are helpful.

11:45 pm June 5th, 2013

Also, my mouth isn’t as dry feel it’s getting better, my mood is also getting better. I’m on my 8th day post. I have been excercising, drinking lots of water and doing yoga. I am reading all these scary Ambien post on the internet and it’s freaking me out.

5:47 am June 11th, 2013

Hi Laura. That’s great, thanks for sharing the tip about cherries and natural melatonin. Often, trouble sleeping indicates dis-ease about the past or the future. Have you tried meditating before you sleep? Or going to sleep at the SAME TIME every night. These two practices have helped me sleep tremendously after about 2 weeks.

8:58 am August 31st, 2013

I took 10mg nightly for about 6 months and then began tapering down until I was at 1/4 to 1/3 tablet nightly. During this period of time, I began to notice some shaking in my hands. Up until about a week ago, I was taking 1/2 a tablet on Fri, Sat. and Sun nights. I have been sleeping OK without it, but the hand tremors seems to be persisting. I intend seeing a neurologist, but wonder if these are typical Ambien withdrawal symptoms, and perhaps waiting a few weeks might be a reasonable idea. My fingers tremble during routine tasks, like typing, almost as if I were nervous. And yes, this all makes me feel VERY nervous and anxious.

12:32 pm September 2nd, 2013

Hello Gary. Restless limbs may be triggered by withdrawal from hypnotics and pseudo-benzodiazepines like Ambien, but they may also be caused by something else. I’m interested to know what is causing this and hope that you get a diagnosis soon. Please update.

12:12 pm September 3rd, 2013

That I shall. I’ve eliminated all possible causes for tremors (meds, caffeine, etc) and am going to give it a couple of weeks. One doctor suggested I just take an ambien and see if the tremors disappear. In any case, I will visit a Neurologist in the near future.

1:26 pm September 3rd, 2013

Oh, one other thing. A little research reveals that high doses of (3g per day) Vitamin B3 Niacinamide can be very helpful in alleviating anxiety and getting off benzodiazepines.

6:21 pm December 12th, 2013

I took 5 5mg ambien over 5 days and on day 4 started feeling like I had withdrawal. Overall, took Ambien for 8 days total. Now I have stopped. How likely is withdrawal? And for how long?

Don Johson
6:44 pm December 17th, 2013

After taking Ambien purchased over the internet, I now seem to be experiencing depression and anxiety. I`m also emitting a strange body oder, thus I`m wondering if the Ambien or toxins, or both, are playing into this? I used the Ambien acouple of months and went cold turkey on it now?

11:03 am January 30th, 2014

Are you still receiving/answering messages to this post? I have some questions regarding discontinuation of Ambien. Thank you. Lisa

11:03 am January 31st, 2014

Hello Lisa. Sure. Go ahead and we can try to help as best we can.

3:46 am February 7th, 2014

I have been taking ambien for 15 years, up to 5 and 6 a day. I did stop cold turkey and went to a hospital and was sent home the next day. I have been off ambien 11 days, how long will I experience this feeling of doom and cloudy feeling. I have ony sslept 8 hrs over the last 11 days and meds are not an option with the drs at the hospital.

5:53 pm February 7th, 2014

I stopped ambien 3 nights ago. Still sleeping on 2 mg of klon. I was taking 10 mg. now I have high pulse and muscle pain leg twitching. Hoping it will improve. Ambien also made me nausea and constipated. Hoping this relieves. Not sure if should go back on an taper or just get through. It. I’m sleeping just in slot of muscle pain.

4:55 pm February 10th, 2014

My doctor prescribed me ambien years ago for my insomnia. As the years went by, I have needed higher doses. I am taking 20 mg to fall asleep and then have to take another 10 mg just to get more than 6 hrs of sleep. I developed excruciating back pain that is unbearable. I have been to Mayo clinic, numerous neurologists and chiropractors to no avail. I tried going cold turkey off the ambien since my doctor never told me how bad this drug is and that long term use should not be taken with this drug. I can not sleep, can not think, can not function and my doctor told me to take ambien again. Funny thing is, my back pain starts to diminish when I quit taking it but everything else gets worse. I had to quit my job bc I can not function at all and my insurance is horrible and I only have it a bit longer but with my deductibles and no job I can not afford to go back to the doctor. Does anyone know if long term ambien use causes severe upper back pain and will this eventually go away? I tried staying off of ambien for a few months and it helped slightly but everything else got worse. I am so upset my doctor put me on such an addictive drug with horrible side effects without letting me know any of this and now my life is a mess along with my health!!!! If anyone has any knowledge please share bc I no longer know what to do…. Thank you!

2:25 pm February 15th, 2014

I use herbal tea now at teavana to sleep they are great I use dream tranquil at night I sleep great with them I no longer use any sleepin med …

12:49 am March 5th, 2014

Oh my! I have been taking Ambien CR (generic) for the past 6 years all a while asking my MD if this wasn’t harmful and he always shrugged it off. I weaned myself down to half of the 10 mg for years but my sleep was short lived. Now my life circumstances have changed and I find myself able to sleep well during the day. I am having some liver issues so I decided to get off totally. I weaned down to 1/3 a night and then every other night. Now I am off completely for the last two weeks and the insomina rebound is making me crazy! I can go to sleep but then awake up around two and am up the rest of the night. About 6 a.m. I can go back to sleep for about 4 hours, just not soundly. I have tried Chamomile tea and Valerian Forte. I am in New Zealand at the time and they won’t sell Melanton without a script. My mood and mind are all over the map. I need sleep. A week of full uninterrupted sleep would make me a new person! But I refuse to go back to the Ambien after I’ve come this far. Also my restless legs has gotten unbearable the last two weeks since I stopped the 1/3 of Ambien. Any suggestions on how long the rebound insomina may last? Thanks for letting me vent!

2:25 pm March 5th, 2014

Hi Christine. Good for you! I like your can-do attitude. In addiction to regular exercise, a diet high in greens, and meditation…there might be professional behavioral sleep interventions that you can learn. Have you considered possible psychological interventions for underlying anxiety that can be related to insomnia? Or what about training specific to sleep therapy? From your message, it seems like you’re into trying new lifestyle changes….way to go!

9:07 pm March 21st, 2014

I am taking Ambien for 1 year and now am off it cold turkey. How long will this horrible feeling of lightheadedness and confusion last.

6:17 am April 18th, 2014

I would like to know how long does psychosis lasts if Ambien is the cause of it? I also have came across data concerning middle-aged women and Ambien concerning psychosis – please post more info about this. Thanks

3:22 am May 4th, 2014

I have been off ambien for 2 days now. My doctor gave me restoril as a new sleep aid. It helps me sleep but I’m am up all through the night. In the morning I feel very depersonalized and complete dysphoria. My thoughts are very confused and I feel very forgetful. Should i continue to take restoril to get through my withdrawal from ambien. I try to wait as late as I can in the day to wear I feel very anxious and shaky almost as if I’m going to go into a seizure to faint. When I take the restoril I calm down and fall asleep and the next morning It starts all over again. Will restoril prolong my withdrawal? I have hydroxyzine that I could maybe replace with the restoril to see if I wake up feeling more normal. What do you think I should do. I took ambien for at least 8 months ranging from 10-30mg per night. Towards the end I would take 15mg and it usually didn’t do the job so I took another 10 to knock out so basically the last 2 months I was taking 25 mg per night.

1:53 am May 11th, 2014

Started feeling ill in the morning from ambien
Lost all appetite, nausea,dry mouth,dizziness
I stopped taking cold turkey
Had to focus on god to get through it
Regained appetite finally after a month

11:17 am June 3rd, 2014

First let me say that I am a 42 year old female 5’1″ 98lbs (was 101) I was on ambien 5mg for about 3 months (I get up at 3am to go to work and I cannot fall asleep with daylight outside) and after a couple of weeks I started falling apart. Extreme indigestion, inflammation in my hands and elbows, plus weight loss and fatigue. Went to the Dr. and she put me on Prilosec and Mobic. Did not work. Indigestion got worse so she put me on naproxen then on Celebrex. I was also drinking a half a bottle of pepto a day and some gaviscon at night. The Dr. also sent me for blood work but it showed no inflammation. Then one day a light went off in my head. I did not start having ANY problems till I started taking Ambien! Stopped taking it on May 8th and almost immediately the indigestion went away, I only have a little but not enough to take any meds. I am not tired after sleeping only 5-6 hours a night and the inflammation is slowly going away. So my question is, how long do you think this reaction/withdrawal will take to get over?

1:15 pm June 24th, 2014

Have been on ambiencr 12 mg for almost five years due to severe insomnia. I started to experience severe anxiety and depression which I feel is related to the ambien. Two nights ago I stopped taking it. I have not slept, at all, yet am having this weird feelings. I am having the sweats, nausea, headaches, anxiety and I just feel awful. There is no way this medication is not dangerous. Just want to feel better

10:11 pm July 8th, 2014

I’d taken Ambien for a few months and it worked really well for me; I was sleeping regularly and just had so much more energy in the daytime. After a few months, it stopped working. How long does the body need in order for it to start working again?

8:54 pm July 26th, 2014

I took 10 mg. of Ambien every night for 3 years to cope w/ lifelong insomnia exacerbated by very stressful events during those years: death of best friend, death of mother, loss of job, divorce, relocating…I tapered off from Jan. thru June of this year–2014–and since my last 1 mg. dose, I have not been able to sleep for more than 5 or 6 hours a night. Though I do all the sleep inducing behaviors recommended (sleeptime tea, no electronics 2 hours before bed–8-9 p.m.–, a.m.aerobic exercise, before bed yoga stretches, meditation, new age music, darkness and so forth) by 1 or 2 a.m, though my body is exhausted and I can barely move, my mind is awake. No worries or ruminations as I am retired now, I am just awake. It has been one month and my quality of life is suffering. How long will this insomnia last? In the past, before Ambien, these sleep strategies were much more effective. But I am currently turning 65. Is age the issue? What can I do beyond taking a wait and see attitude? Thanks.

2:28 pm August 1st, 2014

I was recently prescribed 10mg of the generic form of Ambien. It worked immediatley as far as helping me sleep. After taking for 3 days, the following mornings when I would wake up I would feel “high/stoned” all day…I felt like that for 3 days…I only took the pill for 5-6 nights…I stopped last night and still have that same feeling of being “stoned/high” today…I do not plan on taking the pill anymore….Is this a normal side effect? How long should it last? I am 39 yr old female/weigh 150…..Years ago I took Ambien, I believe 5 miligrams and never had this…..

7:32 pm September 18th, 2014

i have been taking ambien for 15 years. I have tried to quit several times. I went to a sleep lab during one of times i had been off ambien for a week. the lab results showed that i was waking up literally hundreds of times at night. I am once again trying to quit and i am again experiencing this constant waking. I havent seen this withdrawal symptom discussed. Surely i am not the only one that has had this issue. I have been trying to taper down from 10mg. since i am already sleeping badly maybe i should just take a week off and cold turkey it and hope that the constant waking thing will stop eventually.

1:29 am September 19th, 2014

I have been off (cold turkey) zolpidem for 16 days.I had been taking the drug for 10 years straight.I am a senior citizen I guess the doctors thought at my age it was better than no sleep.the regular dose stopped working so I doubled up and ran out 2 weeks early. Thank God for that! It forced me to stop taking the drug.I had been experiencing some deep depression. My mind is back to normal and I feel better psychologically. I am still not able to fall asleep before 3 am, sometimes it is as late as 5 am.I am very tired and in need of skeep, How much longer before I will be able to fall asleep shortly after going to bed?
the doctor was ready to send me to a psychiatrist for depression. I will never take that drug again.

4:16 am September 24th, 2014

ive been on ambien for 10 years and maybe longer. Only have been off for 1 week, first night maybe 2 hours sleep. Cannot get to sleep before midnight or later. Anything I can do to get through this period and since I’ve been on this drug for so long will it be longer to get pass this fase? Looking for any help I can get

12:13 am September 29th, 2014

I am a 67-year-old female tapering 10 mg. of Ambien, and am now in my last week of tapering (now at .25 mg.). I have used it nightly for 10 years, and before that used Restoril or Dalmane several times a week for many years before that. I am trying to learn how to sleep on my own, but i’ve needed chemical assistance to sleep for almost 30 years. I also have PTSD, which doesn’t help. I also take 100 mg. Trazodone, but it’s almost useless. I also came off Ativan (1 mg. daily) last year and had a ghastly time, and the Ambien w/d has given me a lot of insomnia and lack of ambition due to fatigue. Is there anything I could do that might help me sleep normally again?

11:24 am September 29th, 2014

Hi Holly. It’s quitre a long time you’ve been using sleeping pills. But, yes, your sleeping will tend to improve as you continue living without pills. They change your brain’s chemicals to induce sleep, and now, it will take some time for your organism to return to homeostasis. Relaxing activities can be helpful, so try taking hot baths, drinking chamomile tea, listening to relaxing music, meditation…

7:18 am October 25th, 2014

Ive been taking 3 ten mgs a nignt for alot of the month maybe just one week without them an its never bothered me an im on 3 suboxone 8s a day an I had to go to er 3 weeks ago but the nignt b4 I hit some of the spice liquid on tin foil an ever since I did that its went to shit an I had my baby girl an fidnt have ambs an it took a cpl days then started feeling like me again an this last monday I did a sub an a half an 3 beins an drank 2 or 3 25 ouncrs bud light applerittas an.been.haveing awfuliest time since sn today thay had me takeing boostbar sn it helpted some an sent me in a panic attack some I went to doctor today an tney gave me I got home an tbought I was gonna die I got 2 kifs an.a wife kid is 4 an other is 3 weeks old am I want to live even though I thought I died ealier I took 3 ambeins without beer.cuz I couldnt.shallow an made it to sleep an feel ok now but i got a

2:45 am October 27th, 2014

Hello — I’m an otherwise healthy female who simply wants to enjoy restorative sleep like a “normal” person. I’ve taken 2.5 – 5 mgs Ambien for two years. Afraid I might become tolerant, I recently tried other sleep aids without success. (Seems Ambien is my “drug of choice”.)Two nights ago I tried 50 mgs trazadone which did nothing for my sleep, but did give me a solid buzz and killer headache. So frustrated by the experience, I cut out all sleep meds. This 2-night “detox” has not been fun.

A few questions/comments for the group:

1) Would love to hear more stories from those who’ve successfully discontinued all sleep aids
2) Has anyone else experienced headaches from trazadone?
3) Why is trazadone considered a “lesser evil”
4) Any tips for tapering the Ambien. (Don’t know how I can cut my pill any smaller than 2.5 mgs)
5) I’m fully motivated to endure rebound insomnia, but would like to know how long it might take for my sleep rhythms to return to normal.

Forgive me if these items have already been addressed…Thanks in advance for the feedback.

3:06 am December 13th, 2014

Megan, my doc tried to switch me to grazed one but it caused a weird paralysis as I was falling asleep, I’d panic and then not sleep.

I was on Ambien off and on 2001-2012. In 2012 I had to take it daily because I was working nights and wouldn’t sleep during the day. I’ve been back on a “normal” schedule since Feb and if I don’t take the Ambien (5mg CR) I don’t sleep. My doc is blowing me off and telling me I have no choice but to stay on it and it’s safe. But I feel like my brain is fried. The is the only other psych related medication I’m on.

Does anyone have experienced tapering off CR they’d like to share? I figure this can’t be worse that getting off Paxil after 10 years (that was under doc supervision that didn’t believe I could possibly have withdrawals). So you see why I’m turning to my peers.

4:14 pm December 22nd, 2014

I am 79. I have been using Ambian ER 12.5 for years. They no longer work. So I stopped taking it and went down to a 10MG pill for about a week. Then cut it in half to 5 MG for a week. Am now cutting that in half to 21/2 MG and will stay on that for a week. Then take the 2 1/2 every other night for a week. This was what the pharmacist recommended. Is this weaning down eventually going to let me sleep?

12:16 pm December 23rd, 2014

Hello Carol. Congratulations on the progress so far. But, to answer your question: No! The brain will need time to repair itself, since it’s accustomed to getting the chemicals from the ambien and not needing to produce any on it’s own. So, getting back to homeostasis may take a while, but at least you are getting rid of a medication that does not work anymore.

5:41 pm December 27th, 2014

Hello! I posted in September that I was going off 10 mg. Ambien (through a compounded elixir that I gradually decreased) and was still not sleeping. You told me to be patient and normal sleep would finally happen. I am happy to say that it has! Yes, it took a LONG time, and it was misery for awhile, but I am now sleeping comfortably without it. However, I need to watch my caffeine/sugar intake very carefully now, but that’s OK. Stay the course, people; it DOES get better!

12:13 pm December 29th, 2014

Congratulations Holly! I’m very happy you listened to our advise and were persistent. Thank you for writing back and sharing your experience. It can give support and hope to others who are struggling. Kind regards, Ivana

Wayne Gifford
1:36 am January 2nd, 2015

My doctor has me on 20 mg a day of Ambien for many years because I have chronic pain which prevents me from sleeping. I have tried many sleeping medications but Ambien is the only one that has worked for me and allows me tto sleep with my pain. I would like to cut back at least some at least. Can I quickly got back from 20 mg a day to 10 ? please help

4:02 pm January 7th, 2015

I’m a 57 year old woman and was prescribed ambien 10mg 7 years ago for insomnia due to menopause. It worked wonders for me and I’ve never had any side effects just peaceful, dreamy nights. I decided that I needed to stop taking it since I had been taking for so long. I stopped in September 2014 and it has been just awful. My nights are spent tossing and turning. I haven’t slept more than 2 hoirs at a time and it’s beginning to affect my life. I feel like electric currents are running through my body at night and my mind never shuts down. I’ve tried all the natural ways to induce sleep. I am otherwise very healthy. I excercise an hour at least 4 days a week and 30 minutes on other days. Is is uncommon for withdrawal to take this long? I have got an apt with a sleep study clinic next week.

5:56 pm January 8th, 2015

Well just spent first night without any ambian…had been taking Ambian CR 12.5 for over 12 years after family deaths, stress events, menopause etc…..reduced to half the pill nightly for past year. Realized I was waking up several times during the night so I have decided to stop completely. Concentration this morning is not as good as it would normally be. Am hoping this improves as the day goes on. I did try going cold turkey several times in the past when doing the full dose nightly and the symptoms in the morning were very intense. This time is much less intense and much less discomfort. No “hangover” feeling…no shakiness…..I believe this might be because of the gradual dosage reduction over the past year.
Going onto the treadmill for a few miles in hopes this clears my head more. One day at a time I guess……… I am determined to stop. Am 62 years old.

1:32 pm January 20th, 2015

Hi Sara. Seven years on ambien is quite a time and it explains the symptoms you’ve been experiencing ever since you quit taking the medication. During those years it has changed your brain’s chemistry to the extent that your brain got used to not producing the chemicals it needs to put itself to sleep-they were coming from the pills. It will take a long time before your brain heals and return to homoeostasis. You will be able to sleep on your own eventually, until then alternative medications and relaxing are the only non-invasive way of getting some sleep.

5:56 pm January 26th, 2015

I am a senior 76-year-old, and have been on Ambien for more than 15 years. My doctor prescribes 10 mg , but I am up to most nights 25 mg. nightly. I am on day 8 of total withdraw and have only slept one night for about 3-1/2 hours. I thought I would be able to sleep last night, but that was not the case. I am taking Valarian Root 500 mg tablets and drinking herbal tea at night and it makes me drowsy for a little while, but not enough to get to sleep. My symtoms include the shakes, loss of appetite (lost 5 lbs), anxiety, and leg muscle pain. Don’t think I can take any more sleepless nights. I’m afraid after withdrawal is attained I still won’t be able to sleep because, after all, I have insomnia! What are any alternative medications I can take? Advise your readers against taking over-the-counter sleep pills . . .they become addictive also. . . know this first-hand.

7:08 pm January 27th, 2015

Thanks for your response. I talked to my Dr. And she started me on trazadone 50mg which has now been increased to 100mg with no effect at all. It’s so discouraging. Do you have any suggestions on what I should try? I’m taking valerian 800mg and melatonin 10mg every evening along with the trazadone.

Donna G
7:02 am January 29th, 2015

I have been taking 10mg of Ambien per night for approx 3 months- in the last couple of weeks I have experienced a lot of anxiety . If I stop taking ambien what will the effects be? I feel so jittery- please help

6:37 am January 31st, 2015

I successfully got off taking 10 mg. every night for almost 8 years. After i was forced off Amoxapine, due to getting Tardive Dyskinesia, the Ambien no longer worked very well. For those who are trying to get sleep by taking Trazodone, forget it. Ambien works on different brain receptors, similar to a benzo rather than an antidepressant (which makes both benzos and sleeping pills dangereous in the long run). The way I did it was to find a doctor who was willing to prescribe Ambien in elixir form, using a pharmacy that does compouding (not many do). I tapered my dosage with small amounts over the course of mid-May of last year until early October. The last months were pretty rough, but I knew to expect that. it does get discouraging as your body slowly rights itself after years of being artificially put to sleep; you have to be patient. Meanwhile, ease off caffeine and sugar, begin to meditate (or at least learn to quiet your mind for short periods), get as much physical exercise as you can push yourself for, and realize that you may have used up your right to chemical peace of mind. By Christmas i was sleeping pretty normally, and though i still have an occasional bad night, that’s just the lot of humanity. it’s really cool to no longer be at the mercy of doctors, pharmacists and insurance companies to make sure you have enough of your Ambien stash. No panicking that I might run out; no fear that I’ll do something weird while taking it; no fear of losing my reasoning power or developing early-onset dementia. It’s worth the fight! P. S.: I’m 68; if i can do it, so can you!

8:49 pm February 19th, 2015

I took Lunesta for five years and switched to Ambien for another two years. I’m getting off both now. How long will I have these awful feelings. I was taking 10 mg of Ambien and 3mg of Lunesta. I also had to take OTC sleep aids in conjunction as neither gave me a full night of sleep

5:58 pm February 27th, 2015

Kathy, i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but ever case is individual and unique. I knew of a guy who took 20mg. Ambien for 10 years and stopped cold turkey. He was sleeping normally after 4 weeks. However, another friend, inspired by him, also quit cold turkey and ended up in the psych ward for 2 weeks, and had to get back on it.
The safest course of action, which I took, is to find a doctor who specializes in prescription withdrawals and have him/her write a scrip for Ambien in elixir form. You will also need to find a compounding pharmacy—if there is not one in your area, there are several who specialize in mail order. The doctor recommended a 5% w/d per week, and went down to 2.5% during the last 2 weeks. Sadly, the closer you get to quitting altogether, the worse the symptoms may be. You have to be patient and ride them out. In the meantime, stay away from caffeine and sugar and spicy foods, and pay close attention to whatever makes your symptoms worse—eliminate it for the time being. Do meditation and/or yoga. If you have a spiritual path, steep yourself in positive, uplifting verses or passages and prayers that are helpful. Above all, stay AWAY from horror movies, true crime shows, etc., as your nervous system will be on High Alert during w/d. Treat yourself gently, and ask others to do so as well. The reward will be FREEDOM!! You WILL get your normal sleep back, but it will take time. Your brain and body have been artificially manipulated for a long time and will need time to adjust. As for those “experts” who claim that your sleep patterns may be permanently ruined and that you may need sleep aids for the rest of your life, that’s TOTAL BS. I’ve never heard of anyone whose sleep was “permanently ruined”. It DOES come back, and you will be free.

4:36 pm March 8th, 2015

I quit Ambien about a month and a half ago…I was having pretty good nights 5-6hoirs of sleep after taking 5mg of melatonin. Just recently in the last 2 weeks I cannot fall asleep and am lying awake until 3 or 4 in the morning. How long will this rebound insomnia last? And should I see a doctor? Thanks

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