Ambien Symptoms & Side Effects

Ambien is a brand-name, prescription sleep aid. The generic name is zolpidem. Ambien is only meant to be prescribed after someone has tried other methods of alleviating sleep problems, such as behavioral changes or counseling. While Ambien is regularly prescribed to help people fall asleep and stay asleep, the drug has potentially serious side effects. It’s also important to be aware of the symptoms of Ambien abuse.

Immediate Effects of Ambien Use

Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic drug, usually only prescribed to treat insomnia for one to two weeks and no more. Before someone takes Ambien, they should have enough time to get a full night’s sleep of at least 7 to 8 hours.

If someone has to wake up before a full sleep period, they may experience memory loss or have trouble doing things that require them to be alert. Ambien side effects may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Performing activities while not fully awake — sometimes these activities can be dangerous such as “sleep-driving”
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Lightheadedness
  • New or worsening depression
  • Odd dreams
  • Diarrhea

Long-Term Side Effects of Ambien

Are there long-term side effects of Ambien? Addiction and dependence are two possible long-term side effects of Ambien use. If someone develops an Ambien dependence, withdrawal symptoms may occur if they stop using it. Other possible long-term side effects of Ambien include digestive problems and chronic fatigue, as well as headaches.

Ambien Side Effects in Men

Many of the side effects of Ambien are the same in men and women. But are there certain Ambien side effects in men only?

Some doctors believe Ambien may cause or worsen erectile dysfunction in men. This issue is possible, especially if Ambien is combined with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol or opioids.

Ambien Side Effects in Women

What about side effects of Ambien in women? Recently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a recommended change in how women are prescribed Ambien. The FDA recommends lower doses of Ambien for patients, and especially women. Ambien effects in women can include daytime impairment as well as an increased risk of activities like sleep driving.

Signs of Ambien Abuse

Ambien abuse can occur on its own, or even more frequently when Ambien is combined with other substances, such as alcohol. Whenever someone uses Ambien outside of how it’s prescribed or without a prescription, it can be considered abuse. Other signs of Ambien abuse are:

  • Taking Ambien only for certain effects, such as relaxation
  • Continuing to use Ambien even when it leads to negative effects
  • Using Ambien for longer than prescribed
  • Using larger doses of Ambien than prescribed
  • Doctor shopping for prescriptions
  • Trying to hide Ambien use
  • Withdrawal symptoms if Ambien isn’t used
  • Memory loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness

People struggling with Ambien misuse or addiction should consider seeking professional help. Addiction, if ignored, can severely impact a person’s health. Contact The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake to learn about how treatment programs can help address addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

Falkenberg, Kai. “FDA Takes Action on Ambien; Concedes Women at Greater Risk.” Forbes, January 10, 2013. Accessed April 12, 2019.

Pietrangelo, Ann. “Can Ambien Cause Erectile Dysfunction?” Healthline, October 24, 2017. Accessed April 12, 2019.

Peters, Brandon. “Ambien Side Effects on Memory and Behavior.” Verywell Health, March 11, 2019. Accessed April 12, 2019.
RxList. “Ambien.” September 28, 2018. Accessed April 12, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.