What is Ambien withdrawal?

Ambien withdrawal is a set of symptoms that occurs when you cut back on Ambien dosage or quit taking Valium totally. It’s like your body speeds up again. More here on what Valium withdrawal is like and what helps relieve Ambien withdrawal symptoms here.

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Thinking about quitting Ambien or zolpidem?

If you have been taking Ambien for less than two weeks, you can usually stop taking Ambien without having to worry about tapering doses or dealing with severe withdrawal. But if you’ve been taking Ambien for more than a couple of weeks, when you withdraw from Ambien you can expect Ambien tolerance symptoms to induce a frenetic feeling in the body and possible return of insomnia. So how long to be dependent on Ambien, how long does Ambien withdrawal last and what can help ease symptoms? We review here. And then we invite your questions about withdrawing from Ambien at the end.

What is Ambien withdrawal syndrome?

Ambien is prescribed to treat insomnia – difficulty staying or falling asleep. The main ingredient in Ambien, zolpidem, is a sedative-hypnotic that slows activity in the brain to allow for sleep. However, it is not recommended that you take Ambien for longer than two weeks at a time. Why? Because after two weeks of taking Ambien daily, your body can develop a dependence on zolpidem and you will then experience withdrawal symptoms once you decide to stop taking Ambien.

If you have been taking Ambien longer than two weeks, once you have abruptly stopped using Ambien or cut back significantly on zolpidem dosage, the body will experience a period of withdrawal. Withdrawal happens because the brain is trying to Ambien, you can actually experience rebound insomnia. Withdrawing from Ambien is uncomfortable and people who have developed a dependence may try to avoid symptoms by taking more Ambien.

What is withdrawal from Ambien like?

Withdrawing from Ambien can be uncomfortable as the body is no longer in a relaxed, sedative state. Instead, as zolpidem leaves the body you feel like you’re in a frenetic state of activity. Basically, the body goes from a state of sedation to one of over activity. There can be several symptoms that might occur after ceasing to use Ambien. The more common symptoms of Ambien withdrawal can include:

  • confusion
  • feelings of apprehension and fearfulness
  • increased feelings of nervousness and restlessness
  • increased levels of anxiety
  • mood changes
  • rebound insomnia

The more severe symptoms that occur while withdrawing from Ambien have included:

  • abdominal cramps
  • dysphoria (dissatisfaction with life)
  • depression
  • memory loss
  • panic attacks
  • paranoid psychosis
  • shaking
  • vomiting

What does Ambien withdrawal feel like?

Withdrawing from Ambien can feel frustrating as you are more than likely taking the medication to help you sleep. So when you stop taking Ambien, you might experience insomnia over the days that follow. Sleep patterns should return to normal afterwards. It is important to note that Ambien is only a short term treatment for insomnia. So if you have become dependent on Ambien, zolpidem withdrawal symptoms can be more severe and alternative medications may not help chronic insomniacs.

Onset of these Ambien withdrawal symptoms starts about a couple of days after you stop taking Ambien. And acute symptoms which result from stopping Ambien can last several weeks after you cease using Ambien, making withdrawal feel long and tiring.

Having troubles quitting or staying off Ambien? Detox is far safer and more successful if done under the supervision of doctors and nurses that offer their medical assistance and psychological support 24/7. Learn more about the detox and withdrawal treatment of sleeping pills to be better prepared for what you can expect when you finally decide to quit Ambien for good.

What helps Ambien withdrawal?

If you have been taking Ambien for less than two continuous weeks, you can most likely stop Ambien quickly without severe symptoms of Ambien manifesting. However, it is important that you are monitored by a physician during Ambien withdrawal after two weeks of continuous use so that a medical professional can slowly decrease Ambien doses and taper zolpidem to minimize the effects of withdrawal symptoms. Severe cases of Ambien dependence/addiction are best served by seeking professional detox centers and support groups during withdrawal from Ambien. Three possible treatments for Ambien withdrawal include: tapering, medications, and home remedies.

1. Home remedies for Ambien withdrawal – Home remedies to help deal with symptoms of withdrawal during Ambien detox aim to treat specific symptoms related to anxiety or problems sleeping. Some people recommend trying natural herbal methods to treat sleeping disturbance such as CALMS Forte, melatonin, valerian and magnesium, which can naturally relax the body. You can also try calming teas like chamomile to help with sleeping. For other symptoms others recommend:

  • cold packs for sweating
  • exercise (help with endorphins)
  • decreases stress
  • give yourself more time for the process of sleep

2. Medications – Sometimes doctors will prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication to help treat depressive episodes that occur during Ambien withdrawal but there should be care in how these methods are used. Otherwise, over-the-counter drugs can help compensate for pain and discomfort but are recommended only in controlled quantities.

3. Tapering – The best way to detox from Ambien is to use a tapering method. It can take several days maybe weeks to wean a person off of Ambien. During this process, a psychological need for the drug might emerge. For this reason, it is important to talk to someone and make sure you have supports available to you. During this period it might be important to find natural ways of helping with the rebound insomnia.

In general, the recommended procedure for tapering off Ambien is to first reduce Ambien intake in 10mg increments until the presence of withdrawal symptoms emerge. After this, the rate of reduction should decease slowly to allocate for withdrawal symptoms. Once the symptoms have waned, further reductions can be bad. Once you have reached 10mg or less withdrawal symptoms should start stopping.

Questions about Ambien withdrawal

Do you still have questions about Ambien Withdrawal? Please share your questions and experiences with Ambien in the comments section below. And we’ll try to respond to your Ambien questions personally ASAP.

Reference Sources: Daily Med: Ambien tablets
Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection: Prescription Mentoring Program for Ambien
Medline Plus: Zolpidem
Daily Med: Zolpidem Tartrate tablets
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I have alternated ZOLPIDEM and Temazapam daily for several years. I think at max dose. I’d like to get off both all together. I’m really afraid of the withdrawal. Any suggestions while I cut the dosage back would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Dana. Weaning off of any prescription drug should always be done in accordance with a doctor. I suggest that you speak with your physician and together decide on a tapering schedule. It is definitely not recommended that you quit cold turkey, or try cutting back doses by yourself.

  2. i have been taking zolpidem 12.5 for years. i am losing my insurance jan 1st what is going to happen to me? i got melatonin 3mg to help me sleep after i run out of zolpidem.

  3. I have been reading all of the comments as it is almost midnight & you guessed it…..CAN’T SLEEP! I was prescribed Zolpidem over 20 yrs ago (I am 83yrs old). I was always on 10mg, until a few years ago……Dr. said any woman over 65 could only have 5mg of Zolpidem or 5mg of Lorazapam. I had been on both for the same amount of yrs & was taking them a couple hours apart as my Dr. directed to help me sleep. I chose Zolpidem. I have never been addicted to anything that I know of in my 83yrs, this includes coffee, tea, cola, drinking, smoking, alcohol, etc. Now they are saying prescription meds are an addition (this makes me angry at doctors). Why do they prescribe something that is suppose to help (aren’t medicines suppose to do that?) & then we are all called druggies! Now, I am not even supposed to take the 5mg, but cut that in half……it almost crumbles in pieces. Sleep? What’s that? I’m lucky to get 2 hrs a night. At my age, with so many other medical problems (A-Fib Heart condition, High Blood Pressure, Neuropthy, Arthritis, Estrogen, Osteo., etc.)………..I’m sure all of these conditions are being made worse by my lack of sleep, the pain I have to endure, depression is worse, nervouness, & now I don’t even want to be around people. My family are all dead. My 3 children live out of state (one is in prison)……..I’ve had to move several times due to not being able to afford an apt. My list of problems could go on & on………..When you reach my age you lose so many friends to death & you are alone so much……….can’t drive anymore as my nerves are so bad. So, what does a Dr. say………”..can’t refill your Zolpidem……….you’re at your limit for the year! ” It’s only Sept. Now what do I do? Please, a reply from anybody would be appreciated.

  4. Steve
    I have been off Ambien for 10 months and still only get 2-3 hours sleep a night . Nothing else helps me sleep. Good luck!

  5. I was diagnosed with the parasite entamoeba histolyica 7 months ago. I’ve weaned from the anti-depressants used to mask the pain of the manifestation of the parasite. So now, all I need to to is to get off the Ambien that I’ve been taking for 23 years. Yes, I know- that’s a long time. The trouble is that the EEG showed that the parasite zapped my sleep center. What I’d like to know is how long it takes for the sleep center to regenerate itself. Is this something that has been learned in studies? I’d really like to get off this final medication.

  6. Very good artical. I do still have a few questions on tapering off zolpedim. I wake up in the morning at take 50 to 60 mgs, then in the early afternoon I will take another dose of 50 to 60 mgs. At about 5 o’clock I take about the same dosage. Again at 7 or so and at bedtime. I’m scared and am very frightened by the side affects be ace I have tried stopping myself a handful of times. Thanks.

  7. If you suddenly stopped taking alien after being on it for years, because of a sudden depression episode. I’ve been shaking a lot is it due to the abien withdrawal? Or just the depression?

  8. I had been taking 10mg Zolpidem for well over 3 years. A little over a week ago my last prescription ran out and I decided to not request a refill. I have been taking Alteral, a combination of Melatonin, Valerian Root, L-Trytophan and a few other herbs identified as sleep aids. I am not having much difficulty in falling asleep, and I am able to wake up pretty easily in the mornings, but not one day have I felt well-rested, like I had a good night’s sleep, and my anxiety level sits around a 7 through the days. My hope is this is temporary, while my body and brain adjust to a less chemically-induced sleep?

  9. I been taken zolpidem tartrate for about a year and half. I haven’t took any for 3 days because I didn’t have any.But I substituted with 5mg gummy melatonin.Still not sleeping well. Will it take time for the melatonin to get in your system to work. If so I want to give it time to work.let me know if this is best or something else would be better.

  10. Just think full blown withdrawal! The worst thing you can ever imagine. Like benzoid or good old heroine.
    Ninty day detox with one year of two NA meeting a Day, to keep it away Then if you are very lucky you won’t go back.
    Ambian is a killer…

  11. i am trying to taper. was taking ambien in the day for pain. i think the sleep was helping my neck pain. now my neck pain is better. i cant get off the ambien. high blood pressure. nausia every morning. ectreme anxiety. panic arracks. want to stay inside. social anxiety. isolate. i have some left. have not told my doc. been in the er twice. they think the high blood pressure is the pain. but i am not in pain. they send me home sick with high blood pressure. one time i felt like i was dying. got home my blood pressure was so high. my friend had to run get my ambien script. sure enough after i took it things settled down. ers dont believe in ambien withdrawal and nither does my doctor. i do not know where to go or what to do. but stay on it. i cant find a clinic that does not do cold turkey. i would die doing that cause of my weak heart. Help

  12. For the past year ore more, I have taken a reduced dose of Zolpidem but cutting in half the 5 mg tablet. This means I take 2.5 mg. I fall asleep within 10-15 minutes. I am going to be 70 next month so how can I taper off safely?

  13. I have been an Ambien 20 mg a day for years because of insomnia which is caused by chronic pain. . The pharmacy will no longer fulfil my prescription. I have had to go cold turkey. I’ve been up the last three nights with no sleep. I am a wreck. How long will this last ?

  14. I have been taking 20 mg of Ambien for many years. Some of which I did take during the day for my chronic pain . I have been prescribed Ambien for both pain and Insomnia. I don’t know why Ambien helps me with my pain but it does. I only have a half a 10 mg tablet for the next few days.. Then I will run out for several weeks . .Since Ambien is a controlled substance , they won’t renew my prescription for a several weeks yet. It will be 46 days since my last refill. I don’t have enough to last that long.. I have only a half a tablet for the next few days then I will be out and have to go cold turkey for several weeks Symptoms of chronic pain and Ambien withdrawal seem to be the same with anxiety and depression etc. but they are worse now. I am sure I am experiencing withdrawal already. . My primary physician says that he cannot prescribe more Ambien.then I am getting. He Is reluctant to prescribe anything else. II don’t know what do. Your suggestions would be appreciated.

  15. I have been taking Ambien 10-20 mg/day for years to help me sleep with chronic pain. I have tried miany sleep meds but this is the only one that has worked for me. I like to tak a safer medication for sleep. How do I withdrawn rom ambien?

  16. I was on Zolpidem for approx. 5 years following my divorce. Tried getting off many times but to no avail. Began with 5 mg then ten after a couple years. then came the memory loss…during the day I couldnt remember names, dates etc so I know I had to withdraw. I tapered for two months then had surgery, a hysterectomy after which I totally withdrew but started taking Flexeril and Nyucenta instead to help w/sleeplessness. Its been approx. six weeks since the surgery and I cannot sleep. A breakup with my live in partner last week and now 4 nights with no or little sleep. I cannot think or focus and feel lethargic, loss of appetite, like I may breakdown if I cannot sleep… and still no sleep. I also feel jittery as though my adrenelin has kicked in. Not well or good, please help!

  17. I am currently being weaned off Ambien. I was taking it for 4 yrs 20 mg I never had negative side effects like not remembering what I did while taking it. It was wonderful for yrs. slept great with no drowsiness. My problem is I’m bipolar and it started messing w my moods. My dr thought Ambien was whole trouble because I was doing better before the Ambien. She has been giving me a mix iofmValium w the lowering of abien 5 mg per week. Plus Seraquil help also w sleep. I sleep fine during night. My trouble is during day I hv trouble. Shakiness, panic attacks, depression, uncontrollable crying. It’s been 3 wks since I’ve been weaning. How much longer will I endure this?

  18. Hello i have been on ambien for the past 7 to 8 years and i have been taking more than i should. I let this medication take over which is not good. I got to dependent on it. I want to get off and just detox it from my body. I took a week off from work to let my body detox any suggestions to what i need to do to feel a little more comfortable coming off the ambien?

  19. I was prescribed 10 mg of Ambien back in March 2014 for sleeplessness due to chronic postpartum anxiety. Unfortunately, I found that the if I took half of the 10mg dose, I would mellow out but not fall straight to sleep. I would need the second half to really sleep. Since my daytime anxiety was left untreated, I found myself taking half to a full pill broken up to nap or just quell my anxiety. I soon realized that this is not what the drug was made for an at the beginning of this month I tried to stop cold turkey. I was able to survive 2 days with HORRIBLE panic attacks and overwhelming anxiety which led sleep deprivation, before I got back on the medication. Fast-forward to Wednesday of this week, and I decided to start to taper off Ambien again. However, I went from a tolerated dose of 20-25mg in a 24hr period to about 7.5mg, then 5mg, in two-three days, Since then I’ve taken 5mg at night, and the last two days have been terrifying rollercoaster ride of panic attacks, scary intrusive thoughts and (the worst) the fear that maybe this mental anguish would become intolerable and I would get weak and maybe hurt myself. Now that is Saturday, the symptoms have seemed to even out, but I’m thinking of going back up to 7.5 mg for two weeks, then 5mg for two weeks, and then 5mg every other day for a week.

    My questions is: Do you think I tapered down way too fast and that is why I went into withdrawal? Also, do you suggest a different tapering schedule? My doctor doesn’t know I was taking the Ambien during the day, and so suggested a taper schedule of 5mg for a week, and 5mg every other day for a week, for a total taper schedule of two weeks.I am an MS patient and I am scared the long term affects this medication may have on my brain and if this withdrawal would harm my brain at all?

  20. My wife took an entire months worth of ambien in about a week to ten days. Now that she is out, she is literally climbing the walls, having trouble sleeping and constantly complaining of feeling hot even though the room is very cool. I have had to stay home from work for the past few days because it has been so bad. Of course, I am making an assumption that this is ambien withdrawl but I have taken her to the hospital twice and they could not come up with a cause. Of course she did not tell them about abusing ambien. On top of that she ran out of clonipen which she also overtook, Is there anything I can do?

  21. Hello Janet. I’d suggest a consult with a sleep expert who treats sleep issues holistically. Meaning, a doctor or psychologist who understands the need for lifestyle changes, and can assist you in developing habits to promote sleep: exercise, diet, and possibly meditation. Healthy sleep is a function of both the body and the mind, and you need to practice positive patterns in order to benefit from good sleep.

  22. I have been on Ambein CR 12.5 mg since May 1. I started having this awful ringing in my ears, feeling anxious and feeling like my skin was burning. I am also on 300 mg Neurontin for nerve pain at bedtime. The day after I took Ambien CR I felt like I just couldn’t do any thing but lay down. Most of the time feeling sleepy during the day. Started taking longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep. If I took it at 10:00 it would be after 10:37 before I wold fall asleep. I think because I was hearing that loud ringing sound. I would wake up in the middle of the night and have a difficult time falling back to sleep only to wake up between 4 and 5. I called my doctor he said to start taking them every other day. Went back to the doctor and he told me to stop taking them and he gave me a prescription for doxe-pin. Which I can’t start taking till I know I don’t have to drive the next day. I have not taken any ambien cr for 3 nights now feeling a lot of anxiety. I don’t remember having such a hard time stopping the ambien cr last time I took it. I have been on the ambien cr three different times. I think if I manage to get off of it this time I will not start back on it even if it does mean that I will not sleep. I have fibromyalgia and cannot take any of the meds that help with that. I have had insomnia for most of my adult life. I usually just deal with it but this time I had gone 7 months with just 2 hours of sleep and working. I was so exhausted and still was even after starting the Ambien CR. What do you suggest?

  23. I have been taking 20 mg per day of Ambient for years . I ran out of Ambien five days ago because I used up my my months supply too fast. It helped my I some a but also my chronic pain. I would break 10mg pils and take them throughout the day. The pharmacist said they would Not give me any more until June 15 because I already at the maximum dosage. So I had to withdraw cold turkey. The first two nights I got zero sleep. The third night I sleep from 6 – 10 am. The fourth night I got zero sleep again. This Insomnia is terrible. .Will this pattern continue? For how long? Otherwise I do t think I have any other withdrawal symptoms. What do you suggest I do? Shall I Itoughen it out until the 15th and refill the prescription and then try a taper or should I continue with zero ambien ?

  24. Was on 12.5 mgm CR every night for about 18 days. I stopped cold turkey and now 4 nights later sleep is very difficult. I am afraid this is my life from now on but am now wondering if it is a result of withdrawal but with only being on it for less then 3 weeks 4 days of no sleep seems extreme. Any insights?.

  25. Hello David. Experts recommend that you taper off Ambien to prevent serious side effects or complications. Check in with your prescribing doctor to seek a personalized tapering calendar made just for you!

  26. I have been taking ambien 5mg a night for four years,i stopped taking ambien 2days ago,i did have trouble staying asleep last night,should i be tappering off from there? Or just quit all together?

  27. I’ve been taking zolpidem for about 4 months…this is my third day that i did not take ambien at all…the first day i cant sleep until afternoon, the second day was okay, i fall asleep quickly and sleep for about 8 hours…but the third day is the most terrible, i only sleep for two hours and i woke up and cant get back to sleep…finally at 2 pm i fall asleep again but only for one hour and i woke up again, and i feel strange cos i feel that i already sleep very long but its only 1 hour…is it part of withdrawal symtom?

  28. Hello George. Pharmaceuticals can have a powerful influence on the central nervous system. Hypnotics like zolpidem can alter many functions of the brain, including memory and cognition. I’d suggest that you talk with your wife directly about your concerns. Make a list of objective facts, and see if she’s willing to address these with her prescribing doctor. Ultimately, she may need to make some lifestyle changes to address the anxiety and depression. She can start by consulting a licensed psychologist and engaging in talk therapy. Then, she can identify other changes that can support a healthy life that is drug free.

  29. My wife (age 60) has been on Zolpidem Tartrate, 10mg, for the past 18 months. I am worried about the long term effects of the drug, as she is exhibiting many of the symptoms listed as known side effects of taking this drug. I would like to see her begin to wean herself off of this because I firmly believe this drug is the root cause of her many symptoms; one of them being depression. I would like to get back to a “clean slate” so to speak, and see where she goes from there. This is the only Rx she is taking right now. The strangest thing about this is that only a few minutes after taking the drug, and before she goes to bed, it seems like she is sort of back to her old self. We converse about things, but then, the next morning, she has no recollection of it at all. She now seems to be two people inhabiting the same body. I am lost here.

  30. I was prescribed Ambien by my doctor over 2 years ago after surgery and took it for about 1 year, then stopped, no problem. I was in the hospital recently and asked for a sleeping pill and was given Ambien for 3 days. I asked for more since I was having trouble sleeping, now all I want is 1 pill before bedtime. I have no severe problems like depression, memory loss, etc., but I still need that 1 pill at night to get to sleep!!! I really desire to stop but after reading about all the problems of withdrawal on the internet, I’m not so sure. Any suggestions?

  31. Thank you.
    I have been prescribed Ambien for 10 days to help me sleep. Last weekend, I finished a prescription for oxycontin – used after knee replacement – 28 days. I spoke to my pharmacist about weaning me off the oxy and she said I would be ok. I wasn’t. I did not sleep for three days and finally broke down at physical therapy – could do no more. On Friday, I started ambien & now I am worried about what will happen in 10 days. I did sleep ok the second night (last night) and hope it will see me through. Just tired of feeling bad.

  32. Hi Stefanie. Doctors don’t usually publish a general guide for tapering, but issue a personalize tapering schedule on a patient-by-patient basis. Seek help from either your prescribing doctor or local pharmacist to set up a tapering plan. And have a sleep treatment plan worked out, as well. Expecting rebound insomnia and knowing how to deal with it will help you psychologically during the process.

  33. I have been on Ambien for 15 years. My health plan, Kaiser Permanente, has made the decision that patients over 65 should discontinue the drug. I am currently on 10 mg. They cancelled the Rx before a pharmacist called to tell me about the program. The doctor wrote a new RX for 5 mg. I am concerned about the amount they are cutting back. No one has discussed withdrawal symptoms. I am in poor health. I called my compounding pharmacist and he said he could make up 1 mg capsules to help me taper off more slowly. Any research or data from patients about how to taper medication after 15 years.

  34. Thank you – very helpful. I’m helping my partner with withdrawal and he’s only been on it for a few days. He has been so paranoid as to be borderline-psychotic. It took me a few days to figure out that his paranoia about drones and wire-tapping were being caused by the Zolpidem. We’re going to slowly try melatonin and magnesium.

  35. Hi Steve. Sounds like you’ve got a good understanding of your body, the interactions with drugs, and what you need. So, for sleep. I’d suggest that problems sleeping are fundamentally based on our psycho-emotional lives. What keeps us up? Anxiety. Fear. Resentment. Either thinking about the past or the future. We are not anchored in the moment when we experience insomnia.

    There’s a way to get through sleeping troubles. First, you need to integrate these emotions into your self so that you can feel at peace. Meditation and mindfulness practices target this goal. Then, you need to learn sleep techniques that last. I’d suggest that you check out the Institute of Applied Meditation, and their new course on sleep. I can attest to the simplicity and efficiency of the methods they teach. It worked for me, and I was relying on melatonin for weeks/months last year.

  36. Excellent article, thank you. I am now into 11th day of stopping ambien cold turkey. Doc told me to “take a break from it” after I’ve been on it for about 6 weeks. He also prescribed Zoloft (sertraline) to help with some new Dx of depression. (am 62, never had “depression” dx before). Between the two I was woozy, confused, no short term memory and felt like crap all day when awake. Like being on Ambien 24/7. So I was happy to stop, and stopped Zoloft (only on it for about 4 weeks) as well.

    Ugh. It’s been nine days and of these have had 3 hours sleep one night and 4 sleepless nights (right now have been awake for almost 80 hours). Rest of nights are sporadic hour here and another hour before morning. Go to bed at 10, routine. Melatonin. Warm milk. Nyquil ZZZ. Hot Tub. Intercourse. The only thing that works for an hour or so is intercourse. (being serious here….it’s no joke.) After all this, am hanging tough but wonder just how long this rebound effect lasts and is it dangerous?
    I keep monitoring BP, heart rate. Take meds for that and tweak them slightly as needed to stay in control while all this is going on

    Suggest ANYTHING.


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