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What is Ambien?
Ambien is the brand name of a medication called zolpidem. Zolpidem is a hypnotic sedative that helps physically put you sleep; it works by slowing activity in the brain to allow sleep.
Ambien is prescribed by doctors to help people with insomnia or those diagnosed with sleeping problems caused by psychiatric disorders. Ambien can be purchased in pharmacies on a strictly prescription only basis. Ambien is usually taken orally in pill or tablet form.
Ambien is available in two formulations: Ambien and Ambien CR. Ambien CR is a controlled-release tablet that gradually releases the medicine to prolong its effects. Ambien and Ambien CR are available in pills with different colors and shapes, but generally appear in the following forms:
- Ambien 5 mg appears as a pink capsule-shaped tablet
- Ambien 10 mg appears as a white capsule-shaped tablet
- Ambien 6.25 mg appears as a pink round tablet
- Ambien 12.5 mg appears as a blue round tablet
- Ambien CR 6.25 mg appears as a pink round tablet
- Ambien CR 12.5 mg appears as a blue round tablet
Ambien causes you to feel relaxed, have lower muscle tone and feel very sleepy. But how does Ambien cause these effects?
Basically, zolpidem (the main ingredient in Ambien) works as a “hypnotic” by interacting with the neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) in the brain. GABA receptors work by inhibiting signalling synapses that excite neurons. When Ambien inhibits neural synapses, neurons become less excited and have lower levels of activity, causing relaxation and drowsiness.
Because Ambien only affects certain GABA receptors, the main effect of the drug is to induce sleep. Because it induces sleep, doctors prescribe Ambien as a sleep aid (more popularly known as sleeping pills) for people with insomnia problems. People with difficulty falling asleep, or waking up in the middle of the night and have difficulty returning to sleep, can use Ambien after scheduling a medical checkup and getting a prescription from the doctor.
Adverse effects of Ambien
Ambien is a drug that is available by prescription only because it can cause serious adverse effects. In fact, high doses of Ambien can cause fatigue, pain, hypertension and rapid heart rate, ventricular tachycardia (very fast beating cycle of ventricles), suicidal thoughts, enteritis, formation of blood clots and decreased white blood cells, ear infections, liver disorders and muscle pain, pruritus and acne, vision changes and sensitivity to light and urinary tract infections. If you manifest any of these symptoms, this can be an indication that the body has problem(s) with Ambien.
Further, there are reports of patients who performed complex behaviors while seemingly asleep after using Ambien. In the reports, patients are reported to prepare and eat food, drive vehicles, make phone calls or perform sexual activities while half-asleep on using Ambien. Upon awakening, patients have difficulty recalling or remembering, or cannot totally recall, their behavior or activities done because Ambien causes short-term amnesia.
Some people use Ambien for recreational purposes. Some use Ambien for its intoxicating effects. Users report that Ambien causes bouts of difficulty in distinguishing imagined things and reality, false sensory perception, disorientation, and drifting in and out of consciousness.
For more detailed information about Ambien, see: