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How does Ambien work?

Zolpidem is the generic name of Ambien. It belongs to a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics. Ambien treats a certain sleep problem in adults called insomnia.

There are two types of Zolpidem- immediate release, and extended-release. However, since it is a sleeping pill and no one wants after effects during day time, the extended release version was banned by the FDA. Only the immediate release version is available in the market.

Chemical Compositions of Ambien

Ambien tablets contain Zolpidem Tartrate which is a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a receptor-positive modulator. It is a white to off-white crystalline powder that is meanly soluble in alcohol, water, and propylene glycol.

Inactive ingredients of Ambien are lactose, magnesium stearate, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate, polyethylene glycol, and titanium dioxide.

Dosage of Ambien

The dosage depends on persons’ gender, age, medical condition, other medications, and response to treatment. Ideally, the initial dose for women is Ambien 5mg and either Ambien 5mg or Ambien 10mg for men.

Usage of Ambien

The first use of Ambien is to treat insomnia. It is a condition where the patient can fall asleep and stay up almost all night. There is also the transient insomnia where the patient may fall asleep quickly but wake up quickly as well. Ambien is the common treatment for all types of insomnia.

It can also treat narcolepsy as a reverse treatment. It turns out that patients with narcolepsy can’t sleep well at night as well and that is why they tend to fall asleep day time. If they can sleep well at night, the day time sleep is no occurs.

It is recommended that Ambien should be prescribed after a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or together with it. If and only if the behavior changes don’t help with insomnia, sleeping pills should be prescribed.

It is taken orally and in an empty stomach once a night before bedtime and should not exceed 10mg daily. Do not also take this drug if you do not have the time for a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep before being active again.

Ambien is only for short-term use. If your symptoms do not improve or you plan to increase or decrease your dosage, consult your doctor immediately.

Adults older than 65 and children below 14 should not take Ambien. However, only a 5mg dose is possible. Consult your doctor for a substitute. Even for average adults, this medication is only good for 2 weeks.

Military Use

Ambien has a wide military use. United States Airforce is known to use it extensively. Pilots in preparation for long missions take Ambien beforehand to sleep well. After mission use is also possible. Soldiers may have trouble sleeping or relaxing after a violent mission. Ambien comes in handy in those difficult situation. The key is to time the use properly.

As a Paralytic

Ambien can be administered as a mild paralytic and can help prepare a patient before full anesthesia before surgeries. It does not necessarily need to be injected. Patients, if able, can take the tablet form.

As a Healer for Brain Damage

Zolpidem also shows potential healing brain injuries. Patients after a mild stroke, head injuries, and brain surgeries can benefit for long and deep sleep. Ambien is known to help in those situations.

How does Ambien work in the body?

Zolpidem is a non-benzodiazepine sedative hypnotic. Although benzodiazepines work the same way (By Increasing the effectiveness of GABA), Ambien is very targeted. While a normal benzodiazepine bind with almost all GABA receptors, Zolpidem binds with a particular one called GABA-BZ1.

This also explains why Zolpidem has the mild myorelaxant and anticonvulsant effects. It can also be used as an anxiolytic. That is if a patient is suffering from insomnia due to anxiety, Ambien can be prescribed instead on a regular Benzodiazepine like Diazepam.

After taking it, Ambien gets dissolved fast and spreads quickly. It helps the brain shut down unnecessary activities forcing the body to relax, in other words, the patient falls asleep fast.

Ambien also lets your body simulate a sleep-wake cycle. The true purpose of Ambien is to put you to sleep quickly – so no lengthy sleep latency – and help you sleep soundly for a full night’s rest. In most cases, zolpidem will be completely out of the system within 14 hours through urination. It has an average half life of 2.5-3.8 hours.

Drug Interactions

Since Ambien slows down activities, it should be considered as a downer. Therefore, if you are taking other medications, you should know how they functions. As mentioned before, Zolpidem can be used as a pre-op pre-anesthetic. It helps enhance the effects of downers.

If you use it with other downers such as Marijuana, alcohol, Valium, or Xanax, it may slow down your heart rate too and you will have overdosed.

If you use it with upper drugs such as Adderall, Modafinil, Ritalin, or even caffeine, you will nullify the effects of Ambien and the medication will be useless. The best practice is to take Ambien in a near empty stomach, take nothing else, and fall asleep.

Ambien Abuse

It is very possible for people to abuse Ambien for recreational purposes. After all it is a sleeping pill that makes you feel good. That’s why we mentioned before that this goes together with CBT.

For whatever reason Zolpidem is prescribed or administered, the doctor and the patient should both be aware of the possibility of addiction. Therefore, a continuous follow up is necessary. You can read our article “Ambien Addiction and Recovery” for more information on addiction.

And thanks to the internet, people can easily buy Ambien online without prescriptions so you have to be careful about that.

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