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Zolpidem oral tablet side effects: A detailed guide

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More common side effectsMild side effectsSerious side effectsFAQSide effects in detailWarningsAsk your doctor
Zolpidem oral tablet is prescribed for insomnia (trouble sleeping) in adults. It’s a sedative-hypnotic drug that may cause mild or serious side effects. These include dizziness and the risk of unusual sleep behaviors.
Medically reviewed by Christina Bookwalter PharmD, MS MEd, BCPS, BCACP
Updated on December 6, 2023

This article describes possible side effects of zolpidem oral tablet. You can explore this overview article to learn more about zolpidem, including the drug’s uses, side effects, ways to save on cost, and more.

Zolpidem oral tablet is a generic version of the brand-name drug Ambien. Zolpidem also comes in other forms that you’ll swallow, but these forms aren’t described in this article. To learn more about them, talk with your doctor.

Boxed warning: Risk of unusual sleep behaviors

Zolpidem oral tablet has a boxed warning for the risk of unusual sleep behaviors. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For details, see the “Side effects of zolpidem in detail” section below.

More common side effects of zolpidem

Zolpidem oral tablet may cause mild or serious side effects. Below are some of the more common side effects of this medication.

Commonly reported side effects of zolpidem oral tablet include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of zolpidem in detail” section below.

Mild side effects of zolpidem

Zolpidem may cause certain mild side effects. Mild side effects are usually temporary and can be easily managed. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have side effects that don’t go away or become bothersome.

Mild side effects of zolpidem oral tablet that occurred in studies include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of zolpidem in detail” section below.

Zolpidem oral tablet may cause more mild side effects than those listed above. For details, see the drug’s prescribing information.

Serious side effects of zolpidem

Zolpidem may cause certain serious side effects. If you have any serious side effects from zolpidem oral tablet, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency or your side effects feel life threatening, take immediate action. Call 911 or a local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room.

After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. Visit MedWatch’s website if you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with zolpidem.

Serious side effects of zolpidem oral tablet that occurred in studies include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of zolpidem in detail” section below.
Zolpidem oral tablet has a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA. To learn more, see the “Side effects of zolpidem in detail” section below.

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Common questions about side effects of zolpidem

Here are answers to some common questions about side effects of zolpidem oral tablet. If you have other questions, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Can zolpidem 10 mg cause more side effects than zolpidem 5 mg?

It’s possible. In general, taking higher strengths of a drug could increase the risk of side effects. In studies, higher doses of zolpidem increased the risk of central nervous system depression* and digestive problems.

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about how your zolpidem dose may affect your risk of side effects.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of zolpidem in detail” section below.

Does zolpidem cause long-term side effects?

Yes, in some cases zolpidem oral tablet may cause long-term side effects. These can occur if you take the drug for a long time.

Examples of long-term side effects reported with zolpidem oral tablet include:

With dependence, your body needs the drug in order to function like usual. Withdrawal describes symptoms that can occur when you stop taking a drug your body is dependent on.

Keep in mind that zolpidem oral tablet is meant to be used as a short-term treatment for insomnia (trouble sleeping). Taking the medication for a short time can help reduce the risk of long-term side effects.

Talk with your doctor to learn more about these side effects and how to manage them. Ask your doctor for more information about how long the side effects of zolpidem may last.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of zolpidem in detail” section below.

Is dependence or withdrawal a possible side effect of zolpidem?

Yes, dependence and withdrawal are possible side effects of zolpidem oral tablet. These side effects were rarely reported in studies of the drug.

With dependence, your body needs a drug to function as usual. Suddenly stopping a drug your body is dependent on may lead to mild or severe withdrawal symptoms. Examples include:

  • rebound insomnia
  • fatigue (low energy)
  • nausea or vomiting
  • sweating
  • feeling nervous or lightheaded

Certain factors can increase the risk of dependence and withdrawal symptoms with zolpidem. These include taking higher doses of the drug, taking the drug for a long time, and having a substance use disorder, such as alcohol use disorder.

Due to these risks, it’s important to talk with your doctor before stopping zolpidem treatment. They may slowly lower your dosage over time to help reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have other questions about dependence and withdrawal with zolpidem.

Side effects of zolpidem in detail

Below you’ll find details on some of the side effects of zolpidem oral tablet.

Risk of unusual sleep behaviors

Zolpidem oral tablet has a boxed warning for the risk of unusual sleep behaviors. Boxed warnings are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Unusual sleep behaviors were not reported in studies of zolpidem oral tablet but have been reported since the drug became available. It’s unclear how often this side effect has happened or if zolpidem was the cause.

Unusual sleep behaviors can lead to serious injuries. With unusual sleep behaviors, you may perform certain activities without being fully awake. Examples of these activities include:

Certain factors can increase the risk of unusual sleep behaviors with zolpidem oral tablet. These include consuming alcohol or taking certain medications, such as benzodiazepines.

Ways to manage

If you experience unusual sleep behaviors, tell your doctor right away. They’ll likely advise you to stop taking the drug. Your doctor can recommend other treatments that may be safer.

Dizziness

In studies, dizziness was common in people taking zolpidem oral tablet. This side effect is usually mild.

With dizziness, you may have unsteadiness or loss of balance.

Ways to manage

If you have bothersome dizziness with zolpidem, tell your doctor. They can recommend ways to manage your symptoms or recommend a different treatment instead.

Central nervous system depression

In studies, central nervous system (CNS) depression was reported in people taking zolpidem oral tablet. This is a known risk of zolpidem and similar medications. This side effect may be severe.

The CNS includes your brain and spinal cord. With CNS depression, the activity of your CNS is slowed. This can lead to slowed breathing, slurred speech, and difficulty with coordination.

Certain factors can increase the risk of CNS depression with zolpidem oral tablet. These include:

  • taking high doses of zolpidem
  • taking zolpidem when you can’t dedicate at least 7–8 hours to sleep
  • consuming alcohol with zolpidem
  • taking certain other medications, such as benzodiazepines

Ways to manage

If you have symptoms of CNS depression, tell your doctor. They can recommend whether it’s safe to keep taking zolpidem. Your doctor can also help you manage factors that may increase your risk, such as your dosage of zolpidem or other medications you’re taking.

Allergic reaction

For some people, zolpidem oral tablet can cause an allergic reaction. But this side effect was rare in the drug’s studies.

Symptoms can be mild or serious, and they may include:

  • itchiness
  • skin rash
  • swelling under the skin, usually affecting eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)

Ways to manage

For mild allergic reaction symptoms, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may recommend treatments to help manage your symptoms. They’ll also let you know whether you should keep taking the medication.

For severe allergic reaction symptoms, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms require immediate medical care because they can become life threatening. If you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to zolpidem oral tablet, your doctor may recommend taking a different medication instead.

Warnings for zolpidem

Below are some factors you may want to discuss with your doctor before taking zolpidem oral tablet.

Boxed warning: Risk of unusual sleep behaviors

Zolpidem has a boxed warning for the risk of unusual sleep behaviors. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For details, see the “Side effects of zolpidem in detail” section above.

Other warnings

It may not be safe for you to take zolpidem oral tablet if you have specific health conditions. These are sometimes called drug-condition interactions. Other things may also affect whether zolpidem oral tablet is a safe treatment option for you.

Before taking zolpidem oral tablet, tell your doctor about your health and medications you take. Things to consider include:

Zolpidem and pregnancy

Zolpidem oral tablet may not be safe to take during pregnancy. Doing so could lead to side effects, including extreme sleepiness and slowed breathing, in a child soon after birth.

If you’re planning a pregnancy or can become pregnant, talk with your doctor before taking this medication. Your doctor may suggest birth control options to use during treatment with zolpidem.

Zolpidem and breastfeeding

Zolpidem oral tablet may not be safe to take while breastfeeding. Doing so could lead to side effects, including extreme sleepiness and slowed breathing, in a child who’s breastfed.

If you take zolpidem while breastfeeding, your doctor may recommend pumping and discarding breast milk for 23 hours after taking a dose. This helps remove any traces of the drug from breast milk, reducing the risk of side effects in a breastfed child.

If you’re currently breastfeeding or planning to do so, talk with your doctor before taking this medication. Your doctor may recommend other ways to feed your child during treatment with zolpidem.

Zolpidem and alcohol

Zolpidem oral tablet is known to interact with alcohol.

It may not be safe to consume alcohol on the same evening you take zolpidem. Doing so could increase the likelihood of serious side effects from zolpidem. Examples include unusual thoughts or changes in behavior, central nervous system depression, and the risk of unusual sleep behaviors.*

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about whether it’s safe to consume it during your treatment with zolpidem oral tablet.

* Zolpidem oral tablet has a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA. To learn more, see the “Side effects of zolpidem in detail” section above.

What to ask your doctor

This article describes common and serious side effects of zolpidem oral tablet. If your doctor prescribes this medication, they can discuss possible side effects with you. Let your doctor know if you have concerns or questions about treatment with this medication.

Here’s a list of some possible questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • How do the side effects of zolpidem compare with other treatments for insomnia?
  • Do I take any medications that increase my risk of side effects from zolpidem?
  • Does my zolpidem dosage increase my risk of side effects?

Disclaimer: Optum Perks has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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