Ambien (Zolpidem Tartrate) is a sedative-hypnotic sleep aid that is used by people who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders. Ambien works by affecting chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause sleep problems.

The drug has seen a rise in use in the past few years, but has been on the US market since 1993. Because of its recent success, Ambien has begun to be linked to more and more serious side effects. It seems that women are more affected by the side effects than men.

One of the most serious side effects reported after using Ambien is parasomnia—when a person is in a state of semi-consciousness but performs waking activities while in that state. There have been reports of people driving, binge eating, consuming dangerous substances (such as raw eggs or meat), cooking and sleepwalking. People who have suffered in this state have been called “Ambien Zombies.”

Ambien has also been linked to short-term memory loss. Dr. Ken Sassower, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, suffered from this effect after he reported an instance where he did not remember advising his team of residents on morning rounds.

This drug has also proved highly addictive, especially in people who have had other addictions such as drugs and alcohol. Other serious side effects include: hallucination, depression, dissociation, suicidal thoughts and behaviors and temporary insomnia.


Side effects may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness (including daytime drowsiness)
  • “Drugged” feeling
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Nose or throat irritation
  • Sluggishness
  • Stomach upset
  • Weakness


Other serious side effects may include:

  • Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the hands, legs, mouth, face, lips, eyes, throat, or tongue; throat closing; unusual hoarseness)
  • Abnormal thinking
  • Behavior changes
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Decreased coordination
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Fainting
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory problems (such as memory loss)
  • Mental or mood changes ( aggression, agitation, anxiety)
  • New or worsening depression
  • Severe dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Vision changes
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