Friday, January 04, 2008

I'd rather be awake

World's Most Ironic Coffee Mug
Originally uploaded by bkmcae.
I suffer from occasional insomnia. My doctor, as so many doctors do, prescribed ambien.

Now, I have no real horror story to tell. I took it, and promptly fell asleep (as I'd been warned I would) and stayed asleep for eight-plus hours (as I'd also been warned I would). When I awoke, I awoke more rested and refreshed than I'd felt in weeks.

But my wife told me I'd awakened earlier than I remembered awakening -- sort-of. She gave me an early-morning list of things to do that day, as she often does. I responded appropriately, but she immediately recognized that I wasn't really awake.

All this she told me later. I don't remember a bit of it.

So she waited a few minutes and gave me the list again, and this time I remembered it later. No harm, no foul, all is OK, right?

Well, yeah, if you don't mind losing a half-hour in which only your wife can tell you're still asleep. (I've been subjected to hospital anesthesia three times in the past year, and the same thing happens when I awaken. It doesn't happen when I'm sleeping "naturally".)

I did a little research. I got off lucky.

Run a Google search for ambien sleepwalking. Read a few stories.
Rx List | Ambien and Sleepwalking
I have been taking Ambien for about 12-16 months now. Prior to taking this, I never experienced sleepwalking (I am 59 years old). I was really unnerved this morning upon awakening. On my kitchen counter were 4 apples, 1 egg, mixing bowl, cutting board, 1/4 cup orange juice, paring knife, steak knife--and in my den, on my sofa, my favorite cookbook. I HAVE NO MEMORY OF GATHERING THESE ITEMS.

Washington Post | To Sleep, Perchance to...Walk
There is no reliable estimate of how many Ambien users sleepwalk, and no one knows who might be at risk. The prescribing information for Ambien lists somnambulism as a "rare side" effect, meaning that it has been reported in fewer than one in 1,000 patients.

New York Times | Study Links Ambien Use to Unconscious Food Forays
The sleeping pill Ambien seems to unlock a primitive desire to eat in some patients, according to emerging medical case studies that describe how the drug's users sometimes sleepwalk into their kitchens, claw through their refrigerators like animals and consume calories ranging into the thousands.

The next morning, the night eaters remember nothing about their foraging. But they wake up to find telltale clues: mouthfuls of peanut butter, Tostitos in their beds, kitchen counters overflowing with flour, missing food, and even lighted ovens and stoves.

New York Times | Sleeping Pill Users Range Far Beyond Bed
With a tendency to stare zombie-like and run into stationary objects, a new species of impaired motorist is hitting the roads: the Ambien driver.

Ambien, the nation's best-selling prescription sleeping pill, is showing up with regularity as a factor in traffic arrests, sometimes involving drivers who later say they were sleep-driving and have no memory of taking the wheel after taking the drug.

...A registered nurse who lives outside Denver took Ambien before going to sleep one night in January 2003. Sometime later — she says she remembers none of the episode — she got into her car wearing only a thin nightshirt in 20-degree weather, had a fender bender, urinated in the middle of an intersection, then became violent with police officers, according to her lawyer.

The New Yorker | The Ambien Cookbook
Sorpresa con Queso
Ingredients: 7 bags Cheetos, 17 to 19 glasses tap water, 5 mg. Ambien
Place Cheetos bags in cupboard. Take Ambien, fall asleep. Wait 2-3 hours, then sleepwalk to kitchen, tear cupboard doors off hinges in search of Cheetos…eat contents of all 7 bags…
Tell me: Am I over-reacting?


Delayna said...

I don't know if you're overreacting or not, but my mother takes Ambien and has sometimes left the dog out on the deck all night (after letting him out in her sleep). She hasn't done anything potentially embarrassing or dangerous, so she would rather have the Ambien and a night's sleep.

I think these reactions are all very individual, and depends on what you're willing to live with. Perhaps some controlled-condition experiments are in order? {-:

Daniel said...

I know, anecdotal "evidence" is the worst kind. Ambien is taken by millions of people. Some of them are bound to end up in situation where they'll be tested for drugs: That doesn't mean ambien is responsible.

I sure wish someone would do some controlled-condition experiments. I just don't know if I want it to be me.

Delayna said...

Weeellllll, if you're waiting for someone else to do studies just for your peace of mind, good luck. I worried myself considerably by reflecting that I had been taking my asthma medication longer than the study had run. How could they *really* be sure there were no long-teerm bad effect? The alternative, of course, was not breathing.

Your alternative is not sleeping, which is only slightly better. Perhaps you could keep a diary of your reactions to Ambien, and see if they are outside of what you consider acceptable.

In any case, good luck. Hope it works for you.

Ambien Prescription Medication said...

My name is Cherise Kenner and i would like to show you my personal experience with Ambien.

I have taken for 1 years. I am 57 years old. Works great if I take it on an empty stomach, and get right into bed. If you take it and try to keep yourself awake, you can override the pill and be up all night.

Side Effects :

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Cherise Kenner

ambien said...

I've used ambien for a couple months, probably 2 out of 3 days, and it works great. It makes me able to fall asleep but doesn't knock me out. It prevents me from waking up repeatedly for no reason, but I can still wake for a phone call. I wake up in a shorter time feeling more refreshed than normal. I didn't do anything funky in my sleep either (no strange women or empty fridges so far).

take zolpidem said...

I was just recently prescribed Ambien for insomnia and pain medicines for the almost fatal gunshot wound that almost took my life almost 2 years ago. I used to be a law enforcement officer and now I can't work anymore because of the injury. I just bought a brand new Charger with a hemi and I took a Ambien before I took a shower and my family told me that I tried to get in my car and take off! So please be careful when you take them.