Ambien Dosage, Forms, & Effects

Ambien is normally prescribed in either 5 mg or 10 mg doses for healthy adults. Older adults may require smaller doses, and the drug is not normally prescribed for children.

Zolpidem tartrate (brand name Ambien) is used for the treatment of insomnia. It is considered a Schedule IV sedative-hypnotic controlled substance according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Ambien works by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. When this takes place, a person will likely experience the sleepiness desired.

Ambien is offered in a variety of dosages. In addition to this, there are a number of different formulations of this prescription drug.

Ambien Dosage Forms

Ambien is administered in 5 mg or 10 mg tablets. The initial doses recommended include 5 mg for women or 5 mg or 10 mg for men. Older adults may be prescribed Ambien at a lower dose until the person’s body becomes accustomed to the drug.

Ambien should be kept out of reach of children and stored at room temperature. Zolpidem can be habit-forming and those who take more of the drug are participating in a form of drug misuse.


The dose of zolpidem prescribed to you by your doctor may depend on the form of Ambien used to treat your insomnia. For instance, the extended-release tablet (Ambien CR) is taken by mouth, as is Ambien.

The extended-release tablets may result in a “hangover” feeling the next-morning. A person may experience impairment the next-day.

Sublingual Tablet & Oral Spray

In addition to this, there are sublingual tablets (Intermezzo and Edluar) which can be taken by placing the tablet underneath the tongue. There is also an oral spray available (Zolpimist) which your doctor may prescribe.

Side Effects Of Ambien Use

Taking Ambien can lead to a number of side effects ranging in severity. Depending on the dose of zolpidem prescribed to you, you may experience short-term or long-term side effects.

Common Side Effects

Some of the more common side effects of Ambien that take place in the short-term, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), may include:

  • sleepiness
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps
  • nausea

Severe Side Effects

Some may experience serious side effects of zolpidem, such as:

  • sleepwalking
  • sleep-driving
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • aggression
  • anxiety or depression
  • severe allergic reactions
  • memory loss
  • unusual sleep behaviors

If you suffer from certain breathing problems such as sleep apnea, speak with your healthcare provider before taking Ambien as respiratory depression can occur. In addition to this, those with a history of liver disease or a muscle disease (myasthenia gravis) should also avoid Ambien.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who take a high dose of zolpidem and abruptly stop may experience a number of withdrawal symptoms that may include:

  • somnolence
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • vomiting
  • panic attacks
  • flushing of the skin
  • lightheadedness
  • nervousness

In addition to withdrawal symptoms for the person taking Ambien, it’s important to avoid the drug if you are breastfeeding.

Mothers who take Ambien may pass the drug to the baby with breast milk which can be a health concern for the child, causing potential withdrawal symptoms or an overdose.

Ambien Abuse

People who take more than the recommended dose of Ambien are participating in a form of drug abuse. Since the drug can be taken in a number of ways, those who abuse the drug may snort Ambien or inject the drug themselves.

This type of abuse can lead to nosebleeds, damage to the basal cartilage, abscesses on the skin, and blood clots. Those who abuse Ambien can suffer from an overdose which may cause you to experience trouble breathing, severe impairment, and even coma.

Polydrug Abuse

A number of serious and life-threatening drug interactions can take place when Ambien is combined with other medications. Some of the medications to avoid while taking Ambien include:

  • antifungals such as ketoconazole, rifampin, and St. John’s Wort
  • certain antidepressants such as imipramine (Tofranil)
  • supplements or vitamins
  • certain over-the-counter medications
  • benzodiazepines such as clonazepam (Klonopin) and lorazepam (Ativan)
  • opioids

In addition to these medications, it’s important to avoid central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as alcohol. In fact, CNS depressants including alcohol may cause a potential adverse effect.

Before taking Ambien, understand the drug information and speak with your healthcare professional to determine if the medication is safe for you to take.

To learn about our treatment options for Ambien abuse and addiction, please contact us today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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