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Prescribed ambien to get proper sleep. Worried for its side effects. Alternate medicine?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 364 Questions
My parents died recently, and as you can imaging, I have difficulty getting, but not staying, asleep. A doctor prescribed Ambien, but I am hesitant to use it due to side effects and addiction possibility. Are there alternatives to Ambien, or safer prescriptions?
Posted Wed, 10 Apr 2013 in Medicines and Side Effects
Answered by Dr. Enrique Molina 2 hours later
I am sorry to hear about the lost of your parents. I understand the need of medications to help you sleep, and actually Ambien is very effective in helping you to fall asleep. Some people develop side effects, but these can be minimized if you start at a very low dose. The pills come in 5 and 10mg, so start at the lowest possible dose (2.5mg).
Ambien is actually not addictive, you just should not stop it abruptly.
The most common side effects are dizziness and headache.
Rare side effects include hallucinations, dry mouth, constipation, allergic reaction or rash.
Other medications in the benzodiazepine class are indeed addicting, and I actually prefer Ambien for that reason.
If you want to try non-prescription medications, it can be done as well, such as anti-histaminics over the counter (benadryl or unisom). Those are safe as well, the effect may last longer.
Do not mix these medications with any other meds without consulting with a doctor. Do not drink alcohol if you are using any of these meds.
Hope that helps.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Prescribed ambien to get proper sleep. Worried for its side effects. Alternate medicine? 21 hours later
Dr. Molina,

Thanks for your advice. The confusion over Ambien arose from the warning that the pharmacist gave that Ambien is addicting, which contradicted what my doctor said, e.g. non-addicting. My Ambien dose is 5mg. How long can one take this every night? A week. A month? Thanks again.
Answered by Dr. Enrique Molina 3 hours later
You can take it as long as you need to. A month is ok. You won't become addicted to it. Do not change the dosage without consulting with your prescribing physician.
Have a good night sleep!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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