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Ambien (Zolpidem) Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long Do They Last?

Abmien (Zolpidem) is a prescription drug that was developed to help treat insomnia. Millions of people suffer from insomnia, and many people are not able to cope with insomnia through natural means such as by getting adequate exercise throughout the day, engaging in relaxation exercises, and avoiding electronics before bed. Therefore people are quick to go to the doctor and ask for a sleeping pill so that they can fall asleep.

Since doctors cater towards fulfilling their patient’s needs, they prescribe the person with Ambien. It works as a short-acting hypnotic (non-benzodiazepine) and is of the imidazopyridine class of drugs, which works by binding to GABA receptors. Most people are able to get relief quickly after taking it and they fall asleep within 15 minutes. There is also a controlled-release version of the drug (Ambien CR) which helps people stay asleep throughout the night.

For individuals with chronic insomnia, these medications seem to work like a charm. However just because they work well for helping someone fall asleep does not mean they don’t carry risk. Some have argued that they can cause memory problems, and studies have shown that they are linked to a higher risk of car accidents, cancer diagnoses, and ultimately, death. There are many causes for concern when it comes to Ambien and other sleeping pills – therefore, many people end up withdrawing from them.

Factors that influence Ambien withdrawal include

The typical factors that will determine the severity of withdrawal from this drug include: time span (e.g. how many months you took it), dosage, your physiology, as well as whether you quit cold turkey. Someone who hasn’t taken Ambien for an extended period of time likely isn’t going to experience any major withdrawal.

1. Time Span

How long were you taking the Ambien? Did you take it for years or just a few weeks off and on? People that are consistent users of this drug are likely going to have an increased tolerance as well as a tougher time withdrawing. If you took this medication casually off and on for awhile, you likely aren’t going to experience as much in regards to withdrawal compared to someone who used it daily at a high dose.

2. Dosage (5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg) + Subtype

Dosage: Most people take anywhere between 0 mg and 10 mg so that they can fall asleep. Individuals that weigh more tend to need a higher dose for a therapeutic effect on insomnia. However since this is a medication associated with potential for death at higher doses, most people are prescribed a dose as low as possible to help them sleep.  With that said, some people become tolerant to their dose and end up having to consistently increase it for the same effect.

Subtype: Those people that have been taking the standard Ambien aren’t likely going to have as significant of a withdrawal as someone who has been taking the CR (controlled release version).  The point of the standard Ambien is just to help a person fall asleep, whereas the CR is intended to keep them asleep.

3. Individual Physiology

A lot of how people respond to drug withdrawals has to do with their own physiology and circumstances. There are a lot of factors that a person may not even consider that could have an impact on withdrawal. Some people don’t experience any symptoms when they stop taking Ambien, while others experience pretty wicked withdrawal effects that persist for weeks.

4. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

Although this is just a sleeping medication, it can result in a pretty potent withdrawal for some if they quit cold turkey. Threfore it is always recommended to conduct a gradual taper. In other words, make sure you work with your doctor or psychiatrist to gradually lower the dose over a period of time. It is highly recommended to “wean” yourself off of Ambien over a period of weeks if you have been on it for an extended period of time and are taking a high dose.

Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Some would argue that the withdrawal symptoms associated with Ambien are similar to those experienced from users of benzodiazepines like Xanax. Literature and science shows us that the withdrawal symptoms of Ambien do not match the intensity of the benzodiazepine class of drugs.  For more information read: Xanax withdrawal symptoms.

Although there is an overlap of symptoms, the intensity and timeline for full recovery is thought to be significantly more severe when dealing with a benzodiazepine.  However, that doesn’t mean Ambien withdrawal should be discounted as insignificant. Many people experience pretty intense withdrawal symptoms upon stoppage of Ambien that they never expected. Below is a list of possibilities that people have reported upon discontinuation.

  • Agitation: Many people report feeling agitated when they first discontinue the medication. This agitation may persist throughout the day, but may become increasingly problematic at night when the person attempts to sleep.
  • Anxiety: This drug essentially acts on the GABA receptors which is the same as anxiolytic medications. Therefore it makes sense that when a person stops taking it, they would experience some anxiety.
  • Depression: Many people report feeling depressed when they stop this medication. It is thought to be similar to the depression that people experience when coming off of benzodiazepines.
  • Dizziness: As with any drug withdrawal, you may experience dizziness to a certain extent. This is thought to be more common among individuals that quit cold turkey.
  • Fatigue: When you stop taking Ambien, it is likely that your sleep will not be as good for awhile. Therefore you may start to feel fatigued and lethargic. These feelings should go away as soon as you regain an ability to sleep properly.
  • Headaches: Another very commonly reported symptom associated with withdrawing from most medications. If this persists, take the time to drink some water and consider OTC headache relief.
  • Insomnia: When you take a drug to help you sleep and it works, it is essentially creating dependency within your brain. In other words, your brain expects to receive the Ambien so that it can drift off to sleep. When you don’t get it, you may experience insomnia to a worse degree than before you initially started Ambien.
  • Irritability: Some individuals report becoming irritable when they have stopped taking Ambien.
  • Memory problems: A common side effect is impaired memory functioning while on this medication. It is hypothesized that these drugs could lead to permanent memory impairments if abused or taken over an extended period of time.
  • Mood swings: To a lesser degree, some people experience mood swings when they quit the drug.
  • Muscle aches: Many people report feelings of body aches and/or muscle weakness.
  • Nausea: It is reported that many people experience pretty significant nausea when they first stop taking Ambien. If you feel nauseated throughout the day, just know that this is pretty normal.
  • Nightmares: This drug has an influence on a person’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep (for the controlled-release version). Therefore as your brain readjusts itself to not having the drug, there is no telling how your dreams will be affected – this could involve having nightmares.
  • Panic attacks: This is a drug that has a calming effect and lowers your arousal, which ultimately helps you fall asleep. Some people experience rebound anxiety to such an extreme when they first quit this drug that they actually have panic attacks.
  • Seizures: This is a drug that acts on the GABA-A receptors in the brain (similar to benzodiazepines). Sudden discontinuation of drugs that act on the GABA receptors are known to cause seizures. Therefore if you are at a high dose, it is best to play it safe and conduct a gradual taper.
  • Shaking: Talk about feeling uncomfortable – some people that come off of this drug actually experience physical shakes when they first quit.
  • Sleep problems: You may not be able to get proper sleep when you first stop taking Ambien. The problems you experience may be more pronounced if you were taking the CR version as the drug acted as a crutch to help keep you asleep throughout the night. Stripping yourself of the medication is likely going to temporarily create more sleep problems.
  • Tiredness: You may experience daytime tiredness when you first stop taking this drug. This tiredness may be in part due to the fact that you haven’t been able to sleep as well without taking it. Once your sleep improves the daytime tiredness should gradually diminish.
  • Vivid dreams: Since this medication is known to have an effect on your ability to sleep, many people report having vivid and/or crazy dreams when they first quit taking it.
  • Vomiting: Some people have a difficult time with vomiting when they quit Ambien. This usually doesn’t last for more than a few days and is usually accompanied by intense nausea.

Note: Since Ambien stays in your system for approximately 13.5 hours after stopping, discontinuation symptoms may become most noticeable within 1-2 days of quitting.

How long does Ambien withdrawal last?

Everyone will have a different experience when it comes to Ambien withdrawal. It is thought that if someone has developed dependency, the withdrawal will take longer because a gradual taper will be necessary. Additionally if you taper too fast, the symptoms may be more powerful and debilitating than they would if you took the time to conduct a gradual taper. People that have become tolerant to high doses of the drug have reported a “post-acute withdrawal syndrome” (PAWS).

Another important point to make is that if you were taking the “CR” version, it may be more difficult to reestablish a normal sleeping cycle. The controlled-release version works throughout the night to help people stay asleep. Therefore your brain becomes accustomed to receiving the drug throughout the night to help keep you asleep. When you take away a constant release throughout the night of a drug, you are likely going to have more problems establishing a normal sleep cycle.

For most individuals the symptoms will subside within a few weeks of stopping the medication. In fact some users report that they experienced no withdrawals after the first week that they stopped. Others that have been taking a higher dose and have built up a strong tolerance may experience psychological effects several months after they quit. Just keep in mind that even if the withdrawal feels crappy, it will eventually end.

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192 thoughts on “Ambien (Zolpidem) Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long Do They Last?”

  1. Have been on this for 6 years every night and am going cold turkey now, only as I used my 20 pill prescription in 3 days, tolerance was building up recently that it took 50-70mg just to get to sleep.

    I have repeats left but hopefully will throw it out. I slept last night maybe an hour, the dreams are vivid, and you don’t know if you have slept or not. I only know I did sleep as I dreamt and I remember dreaming.

    I did stop cold turkey for 3 weeks on holiday and found no withdraw symptoms then, but that was a year ago and I was only taking 10-20mg max a night. Good luck everyone, it’s such a great escape and easy to get hooked on!

  2. All of these testimonies have been extremely helpful. Thanks for your willingness to share contexts and insights. I’ve been on-off Ambien CR/Zolpidem 12.5 for several years. I was even completely off of the drug for eight months, but caved when I got a bad cold and felt I needed the sleep boost from the drug again.

    I’ve been taking it for so long that it’s lost its potency, but I’ve been very leery of increasing the dosage. My wife is a therapist and has taught me the mantra the “near-sleep is nearly as good as sleep,” which has helped me to not panic when sleep doesn’t arrive for hours and hours.

  3. I have been reading these posts with great interest. I lost my job to this hateful medication, working in a doctors office made it easy for me to access. I was caught and that was it. My doctor worked with me to get off it. I did for the first while then due to the upset and depression from being jobless – I started buying on the internet. Dodgy sites as well.

    The last lot I got were just fake! So I didn’t have any so last night it began. I felt awful all day today, nausea, cramps, irritability, tears, no sleep, panic! But I have some now, my last script from my doctor, enough to wean down – probably not as slowly as I’d like but he wouldn’t give me anymore. So here goes! I’m too ashamed to go back to him and tell him I cheated, not him but me. Anybody reading this – don’t ever start it!!

    • Suzanne, Glad you are weening down slowly. It will be a while before you sleep more than a few hours – so not working now is good. Join a gym if you can afford it otherwise just get out of the house.

      It was 14 days before I slept somewhat through the night. Glad your doctor wont give you anymore. Good luck to you. You can do this.

    • Hi Suzanne. Reading your post was painful because it sounds so familiar. I ruined so much in my life due to this drug. I was on it on and off the past 20 years, but the last six years every night. Many times I would show up drugged at work, and not remembering my day.

      I developed a tolerance very quickly and after a short while I took very high doses, sometimes up to 120 mg a night. I would gets prescriptions in different countries, in some countries the doctor would just give me pills without prescription. I also ordered online, but the last two times customs opened the package and I was fined heavily.

      Two weeks ago I ran out of pills and was to ashamed to ask for more, I had used my 10-day prescription in 2 days. I had to go cold turkey. The first night I didn’t sleep. The second night was worse because of the panic. I did however sleep for an hour or so.

      The first week was horrible, I was constantly looking everywhere for pills because I was sure I couldn’t get through it. It’s been two weeks now, and I’m still alive! And I sleep! Much better than before. When I was younger my doctor told me she would not want anyone she cares about be on this drug.

      I thought at that time that was a ridiculous thing to say, I was so confident that this drug helped me. Now I see things differently. It was no help to me, it became a handicap. I hope I will never take it again.

      I never thought I would overcome the anxiety of sleeping. But after just two weeks, my life has changed. I hope you succeed! It is possible.

      • I’ve been taking Ambien for about 20 years. My Doctor retired and the person I go to now, who isn’t an MD wants me to stop. I’ve never taken more than 10 mg as it works fine for me. I’m taking 5 mg now and sleep is terrible.

        I’ve never had trouble falling asleep, just staying asleep. I don’t know how long this is going to go on – as I have to go to work and my energy level is not what I’m used to. I’m usually full of energy but now I find I’m lacking and as I’m on a medication for depression, it’s a challenge.

        I’m hoping things get better than they are right now at 5 mg.

  4. I received a 2 week supply of generic Ambien 10 MG from my Doctor in November against her wishes. That is only 14 pills. I allowed myself to only take one Ambien every five days which made the 2 week supply last around 83 days. That assured me 8 hours of sleep every 5th day.

    I did not want to ask for a refill, and ran out last week. I am experiencing Ambien withdraw symptoms for the last 3 nights; can’t sleep, high anxiety, heart pounding fast, crave for more Ambien, dizziness and ringing in my brain, etc. Can 14 pills stretched out for 83 days cause Ambien withdraw symptoms? What should I do?

  5. Am an active 70 year old man who had been taking 10 mg of zolpidem for 7 years. Only other medication that I take is metformin 2 x day for borderline type II diabetes. Zolpidem had not been working for me over the past couple of years (maybe more), and there were may nights when sleep didn’t come until an hour or two after I took the zolpidem. Could usually hasten sleep by drinking a glass of milk at the same time I took the zolpidem.

    Eventually got to the point where sleep would be interrupted after 5 hours or less, and I could not get back to asleep anymore that evening. About 6 months ago, started taking 3 mg of melatonin at the same time as the zolpidem, but when I awoke I was was tired for much of the day. By this time, I was ready to get zolpidem out of my life. After all, I had slept comparatively better than before I ever started zolpidem.

    Had nights where I would not take the zolpidem, but sleep was not possible, and I would eventually take “the Z pill” after an hour or two of not going to asleep. Should mention that I had not read any of these posts until early Monday morning, 3 days after I had decided to quit my zolpidem “cold turkey” on Friday night.

    Thought that if I was active enough during the day and took melatonin in the evening that I would be able to make the transition without much difficulty and reasoned that if I only got 4 hours of asleep for awhile, I could weather that. Saturday and Sunday really were not too bad in comparison to Sunday night and all day Monday. Couldn’t even stand to be in bed on Sunday night, during which time I read every one of these posts for the first time and quickly came to the realization that the suggested method was to slowly reduce the zolpidem dosage.

    Monday morning and afternoon was terrible: dizziness, chronic anxiety, flushed face, irritability, and the feeling that my skin was “crawling” from the inside out. Spoke to a health food friend who gave me a new bottle of Passion Flower to try at bedtime, and with no assurances, suggested that if I got any worse to go back on the zolpidem at the decreased dosage. At 10:30 on Monday night, I took two of the Passion Flower capsules, turned on a newly purchased Android app by the name of Relax Melodies which IMHO does a fantastic job in comparison to stand alone sound machines.

    Within 10 minutes I was asleep and slept 9 hours straight. Have felt great all day and had so much energy to burn, that I mowed my yard and did several other delayed mini-projects around the house. All of my symptoms of the previous day were still a very real memory but completely gone. Perhaps the Passion Flower did nothing more than have a placebo effect, but I will continue to take them for a week or two.

    Have I left the zolpidem addiction permanently behind me? I certainly hope so, and only time will tell. Final words to anyone reading this is to discard the idea of going “cold turkey” and slowly reduce the zolpidem dosage as others have described with the back-up of seeking medical assistance if you have any problems. Better yet, consult a medical professional first before you start to slowly decrease the daily dosage.

    Best of luck to all to all who plan to stop taking zolpidem, and a heartfelt thank you to everyone who shared their experiences in these previous posts.

    • Hi Rick, I have just had the most frightening 3 days of my life. I have taken zolpidem for 20 years. 10 – 20 mg or higher. For the first time on Wednesday or Thursday (memory loss), I didn’t take any. Saturday, Sunday, I’ve lost. Friday, no idea.

      Today I thought I’d had a stroke, or worse. Cannot do anything. I have just thought it may be the pills – I hope so. What a relief. Can you offer any more information for me?

  6. I have currently been off ambien 10mg. for about a month after taking it for 10 years. I was very concerned about memory loss and I really just want to sleep like a normal person. I find that I used Ambien to shut off my brain. I weaned my dosage over about 2 months. The first night with out was terrifying. I love going to bed and falling asleep in 10 minutes. While I was weening I was substituting with Somnapure which has been OK.

    It helps me fall asleep but it is slow. I’m also struggling with waking up at 6:30 and being tired through out the day. I really haven’t napped since I started taking Ambien and I want to do this daily now. I try not to because It makes night sleep more difficult. I do feel that my memory has improved somewhat. I am concerned about weight gain. I’ve put on a few pounds since I stopped, not sure it this is a coincidence or not?

    I don’t feel that my eating habits have changed. I do feel that physicians encourage ambien use. I point blank said to my doctor several times, “I am addicted to Ambien. I can’t sleep with out it.” They would say “okay” and write me another RX. Most recently a PA really encouraged me to stop. Good luck, I miss it every night.

  7. I submitted a post on December 1 and am following up with this one. Please refer to the original post above for more background. The bottom line is that I used Ambien CR 12.5 mg every night for eight years and am now off of it! Good riddance, as I had a very disconcerting sleep-walking type of event (reported to me by my son) that could have been much worse but in the end was a true “wake-up call!”

    After deciding to kick the Ambien habit, I threw the remaining 12.5 Ambien CRs that I had away and did a taper of 1 – 10 mg Ambien a night for two weeks and then 1 – 5 mg Ambien a night for two weeks. I used only Melatonin and another commercial sleep supplement mix during those first four weeks. It was not easy as I had grown accustomed to the time-release 12.5 mg Ambien CR for 6 or more hours of solid sleep every night.

    I needed to consciously “put myself to sleep,” especially once I got down to the 5 mg Ambien, with deep breathing (at least five times if not more of slowly inhaling through the nose as much air as possible, holding it for a significant amount of time, then exhaling through the mouth as much air as possible), self-hypnosis (imagining hitting a baseball or golf ball in slow motion, walking down a circular staircase, etc.). Sleep was very difficult, interrupted, dreams were vivid, weird, etc.

    After the last night of taking 5 mg of Ambien, I began taking 15 mg of Mirtazapine every night. This is an anti-depressant and sleep aid med prescribed to me by a nurse practitioner who specializes in adult mental health. It has been aiding me significantly, although sleep is still interrupted, unlike my years using Ambien. I have also been having vivid dreams, but I actually have enjoyed that. I believe that Ambien curtailed my dream life while I was taking it.

    Yes, I have essentially switched from one substance to another, but the nurse practitioner assures me that the 15 mg of Mirtazapine is a low doze and that I should be able to move away from using it in the future if I choose. As noted in the initial post, I also take .5 mg of Clonazepam every night to relieve the symptoms of a neuropathic affliction (Burning Mouth Syndrome). During the four weeks of weaning, the nurse practitioner suggested I take an additional .25 when I woke up during the night. This helped as well.

    Good luck to everyone who seeks to get off of Ambien! Other than the predictable sleep issues that I have been wrestling with (and related waking issues due to not sleeping as well), I have had no other physical withdrawal symptoms. I continue to use the Melatonin and other natural supplement mix.

    • Hi Chris, I want to get off Ambien. I’ve been taking a 10mg pill every night for a couple of years. I also have Burning Mouth Syndrome and it’s the only thing that brings any relief.

  8. Hi, I have a different situation. I’ve been on Ambien 20 mg (yikes) for 2 yrs. Because of the holiday, I couldn’t get my prescription filled. So, I’ve gone 1 night on 10 mg and two nights on 0. The first night was awful…vivid dreams. I couldn’t tell if I was awake or asleep.

    The last two nights were better. In a light sleep in and out with light dreaming. I am more depressed and fatigued; appetite is less but that’s a plus. I’m more emotional… crying easily but overall not too bad yet. I’m taking melatonin and also 200 mg. of Seroquel. Also, Lamictal. Light dose of clonazepam during the day.

    Yeah, I’m on a lot of medications. I have PTSD. Actually, my medications have been greatly decreased. Anybody out there stop Ambien cold turkey but covered with other medications? I’ve just put a call into my doctor about it. I’ll see what he says. Curious, though, if there’s anybody else out there similar to me. Thanks.

    • Yes my situation is similar to yours. 20 mg for a few years. I also have PTSD, but ambien and Xanax are the only meds I use right now. How has it been going, are you still using ambien?

  9. I have a love, hate relationship with ambien. Started taking the 10 mg. pill about 7 years ago and not one night have I had to toss and turn and count sheep. I always went to sleep quickly and no matter how many times I woke up I fell back to sleep with ease. Ambien, I love you. However, slowly but surely I had to find ways of getting the same effect.

    I started by adding an OTC sleep aid. That worked great for a time. Then, I added even more of the sleep aid to my nightly ambien cocktail. Still though, I was clearly in the honeymoon phase in my relationship with ambien and couldn’t imagine living without it. Fast forward about four years and there was trouble brewing in paradise.

    I found myself not being able to fall back to sleep after I woke up. The solution was easy, just take another 5 mg. of ambien and some of the OTC sleep aid and a melatonin supplement in order to get back to sleep. After a period of this, I really started to dig a hole for myself. I sometimes needed 10 to 20 to 30 mg, at night to fall asleep.

    About two weeks ago, I woke up and my husband asked me if I remembered what I did the night before. I do remember taking 30 mg. but nothing after that. Apparently I put an empty plate and cooked it in the microwave. I took out a peanut butter jar and spread some of it on a plate with my finger. I took the soap dispenser pump from the sink and laid it on the counter.

    I threw up on the counter and in the sink. I scared one of my dogs and she cowered behind my husband for protection. I found ambien pills on the floor in my bedroom so I don’t know if I got up and took more pills but regardless I was absolutely horrified and said that nothing like that could ever happen again.

    The real fear is that I would let our dogs out for a bathroom break and then forget about them. Being in Minnesota in December would only lead to a death sentence. Now ambien is my enemy. I am in my fifth day of not taking it and I feel exhausted.

    I only slept about 3 hours last night. It is ok but I am very, very concerned about when I go back to work next week. I absolutely hate this feeling of dependence. So the honeymoon and the good times with ambien are over. It’s time to serve the divorce papers. Goodbye ambien!

  10. I started taking ambien 7.5-10 about 3 1/2 years ago due to severe problems with falling asleep and thought of it as a miracle drug. Previously, I had failed with all the well-known OTCs, like benadryl, or even zopiclone 3.75 – they all gave me terrible hangovers the next morning. Melatonin 2 made me drowsy but didn’t send me to sleep. My GP recently decided it was time to withdraw and it has been hell.

    I decided to stop cold turkey and had a sort of mini-seizure during the first night of not taking it! It felt like my brain was on fire and shaking uncontrollably. Decided to go back to 7.5 and taper 2.5 off each 2-3 weeks. Currently I am stopping at 5 and the w/d symptoms are severe – increased daytime anxiety, muscle aches, stomach cramps.

    To complicate things further, the daytime w/d from ambien because of its short half life made me pop xanax .25 during the last 2 years more often than supposed – so now I have an addiction problem with two short-acting substances that were originally prescribed on an ‘as needed’ basis. Will probably switch over to valium and do a slow taper from there. Thanks for all your help and comments!

  11. My experience with ambien was hell. I started taking the drug as the normal 10mg prescribed Dose and kept at that for about a year. My problem became that I liked the feeling ambien gave me and I eventually became addicted to it mentally and physically. By that point addiction took over my brain and drug seeking behavior kicked in.

    I went to multiPle doctors to get it, bought it from friends and relatives, and eventually committed forgery to get it. After they first year of taking it normal I started increasing my dose slowly and more slowly. 1.5 tablets at first. Then 2. Then 3. And finally after about 9 years of increased tolerance I could take 18 tablets.

    Yes 180mg at one time at night. Also by this point I was so addicted that the withdrawals would start during the day before nighttime. To feel right I stared taking a tablet here and there throughout the day. By the end of my using I was using about 350 mg in a 24 hour period. As the ambien addiction took over I also started adding in benzos and then opiates, but the thing I always had to have was the ambien.

    I had to go to an inpatient detox program. I couldn’t do it any other way. The withdrawals were too intense for me. Extreme hot/cold flashes, tremors, nausea, pain all over, so weak I could barely function, sweating, constant feeling of doom, delirium, insomnia, the weirdest scariest most vivid “dreams” you can imagine.

    The intense acute withdrawals where my mind felt like it would never be the same lasted about a week for me – 7 days. The residual ones – maybe 3-6 months. I think I had tremors in my hands for about 4 months. To this day after being clean for 29 months I still occasionally get cravings form ambien. For some people Ambien may not affect them quite the way it did me.

    Not everyone has access to the amount I got accustomed to taking, but I can tell you that MY story is that ambien is no joke. It should be prescribed conservatively by doctors at the lowest dose possible for the shortest duration possible! If you are addicted as I was please know you are not alone, it’s not your fault, and you can stop.

  12. I have been off Zolpidem 7 days now and my skin is still burning and tingling. I am sleeping, but I have to take naps during the day light to catch up. When will this stop? Can someone PLEASE HELP ME?

  13. I took Ambien/Zolpidem for 5 days only due to not sleeping from withdrawal from Lyrica, this was a BIG MISTAKE. I have been off the Zolpidem now for 7 days and the burning and tingling is still going on. I had this for about 3 weeks from the lyrica withdrawal and now it is back, this sucks. I told the Doctor at the ER, I want a shot to help me sleep, not pills, (WHY won’t they listen?). I will never do this again. I hope that in the next week or two I will be back to normal.

  14. Holy moly! I am a 64-year-old man and have taken 12.5 mg of Ambien CR continuously for about eight years. I have struggled with sleep my whole life and was prescribed Ambien by my doctor when my difficulties became more severe. As noted in a prior post, the stuff just works too well, so it is an east trap to fall into!

    I have always stuck to the prescribed dose and when I take it just before bed, I am typically asleep within a half an hour and get a pretty solid 6 – 8 hours of sleep. Even with the drug, there are times that I do need to “put myself to sleep” with deep breathing exercises, relaxation, visualization, etc. I have never had (that I know of) a sleep-walking-type incident until this past week, when my son reported seeing me do something a few nights ago that I have absolutely no memory of doing.

    Scary stuff! That incident plus reading these posts have convinced me that it is time to move alway from the easy fix that has been Ambien for me for so long. I am clearly addicted to / dependent on this drug for sleep, as when I am away and forget the Ambien, I essentially do not sleep. It is frightening to contemplate what I will need to endure to get off this drug, but I hereby pledge to do it!

    BTW, I also take .5 mg (a low dose) of generic Klonopin (Clonazepam) every night for a neuropathic affliction (Burning Mouth Syndrome) that came into my life about seven years ago. While I hope to get off of that drug as well eventually, if the debilitating symptoms return, I will return to the low dose of Clonazepam to relieve them. The bottom line is that Ambien needs to go first, so I (perhaps with medical help) will need to develop a plan to wean myself off what has become a clear crutch in my life.

    Thank you for all the information I gleaned from all of your stories – I am going to do this thing!

  15. I took ambien 12.5 cr for four years. This past month it stopped working slowly then five nights ago had 0 effect. I complained to dr. He wanted me to stop cold turkey and go on a different sleep med… but instead halved my dosage. I took my last 12.5 which did nothing. Then the next night took the 6.25 cr. Nada no effect.

    At about 5 AM I had a hellacious panic attack. So I completely quit ambien. You will not sleep for days. It will suck. I’m through the worst of it including agoraphobia which tried to keep me from going to get food. I went without food. It was bad…shakiness today and tonight I’m kind of afraid to sleep but I will. This drug is pure evil.

    I refuse to be controlled by it. I refuse to depend on it. It has affected my memory. I had insane food binges after taking it… I got so scared of my own climbing vitals I almost called an ambulance. It went away after I drank a lot of water and laid on the floor begging to god to help. I’ve supposedly made it through the seizure stage. No seizures but anxiety…oh yes.

    I’m not trying to scare anyone. You are stronger than this drug. You can quit but be warned days 1-3 SUCK. After being off just a few days my mind fog is almost completely gone. I’m more aware but also anxious and I am being very careful… my own dr originally wanted me to just stop taking it. I know they downplay what could happen… I swear once this is over I’m never taking it again.

    • Hi there. I’ve stopped Ambien CR cold turkey with the help of my psych doctor. I’ve gotten thru one night and slept maybe an hour or two. It’s a holiday weekend and I have 3 more nights until I go back to work. When did it get easier for you? Thanks.

      • I’m in the same boat as you! I weaned from 10mg to 5mg per night and as of last night I haven’t taken any. I’ve been taking it off and on for approximately 6 years. I had nightmares last night and I had numbness in my fingers today.

        I had much less “fog brain” and hardly forgot any words or thoughts today as well (other symptoms I’ve been having that I attribute to zolpidem). I hope things only get better from here. I hope we both stay strong and stay away from the medication.

  16. I started taking Ambien 8 years ago, post cancer recovery. Almost a month ago I broke my foot playing with the baby at the park, I was put in a cast. I had never done “odd” things while on Ambien with the exception of a few times I made an entire box of pancakes. Two weeks ago, during the night I got a steak knife and cut my cast off by myself. The next morning I decided maybe it was time to see how I’d do without Ambien.

    I went cold turkey. The first night was what I expected after doing some research online: wide awake. The next day I was extremely nauseous and found myself to be shakey. I slept for a few hours that night. Day three, still nauseous and shakey. Luckily for me I am on a daily dose of Cymbalta, which treats a mental condition as well as helps with my fibromyalgia, I am guessing this is why I didn’t suffer from muscle pain.

    Today is the one week mark. I have found that compared to other stories I’ve read I have been extremely lucky. Though I sleep sporadically throughout the night, I am managing to get some sleep. I am also a very very light sleeper. Today I actually dosed off on my couch for about 30 minutes. I have not napped of any kind in 8 years.

    Although a small milestone, I was extremely happy about it. I sympathize with every one who is struggling to fight what has become an Ambien epidemic. My story this far has been a successful one, and I hope those finding the courage to start the battle are also successful, with minimal withdrawal symptoms. My fingers are crossed for you. Don’t give up! You CAN do this!

    • Hi Jill, and anyone else reading. I am day 3, but I didn’t come off it on purpose. I ran out, and for the last 3 days, thought I’d had a stroke.

      I have total memory loss. Never been so scared. Very relieved (I don’t mean this in a mean way) to find these posts, and it may be down to zolpidem withdrawal.

      I cannot remember last week. I have gone 70 hours without sleep. (I have insomnia). It is a nightmare. But, maybe it’s the Z. I hope so! Sue.

  17. I’ve been taking the generic 10mg almost nightly for the last 2.5 months or so, and about a month ago I started noticing a really odd daytime sensation of woozy light headed-ness, like there’s a little pocket of helium in my head. I didn’t know what was going on initially, but I had a bad 3 day period where I ran out of Ambien and I essentially didn’t sleep at all for 3 nights. I was totally exhausted during those days, but I immediately noticed that the weird daytime lightheaded sensation vanished.

    Even in the midst of that total exhaustion, I could think and function more clearly! The daily spaciness returned as soon as I refilled my prescription and started taking Ambien again. I’m fine for the first couple hours or so in the morning, then the light headed sensation begins to build. I really think this is related directly to the drug, but what’s odd is that most people on here who have reported this dizziness/light headed sensation experience it as a part of withdrawal symptoms…has anyone experienced this as a daily side effect?

    I took Ambien regularly years ago and never experienced any of this, but this time around there’s been nothing good for me about this drug…I sleep only 3 – 4 hours then I’m wide awake, have had to take a half dose at times to fall back asleep. I’m going to begin tapering myself off of this starting tonight, this drug is bad news, and reading all of the posts here just totally reinforces my concern about finding myself so quickly dependent on it.

    • I, too, have had the same build of “light-headedness” while using the drug. I also forget words that I otherwise know and forget what I’m trying to say. I’ve taken 10mg off and on for many years.

      I reduced my dosage to 5mg per night a few nights ago and last night was my first night without in a long time. I had trouble falling asleep and nightmares last night. I actually had numbness in my fingers today as well but my “air-headed” feeling was almost all but gone.

      As I lie here tonight I really want to reach for one to put me to sleep but I can’t stand feeling disconnected and ignorant any longer.

  18. This blog really helped me while trying to get off Ambien, so am going to tell a positive story. I took Ambien for almost 5 years , not every night, but pretty often, and it helped me so much to sleep — it actually WORKED unlike all the over the counter stuff I tried over the years. I convinced myself that there were no side effects and that half the post-menopausal women my age were on it, so how could it be a problem?

    It is insidious, and I now realize that the weakness, higher anxiety, continuing hot flashes, and even a “blood sugar drop” lightheaded feeling were probably all related and the effect was cumulative over time. Finally, the perfect storm came together with shakes, hot and cold flashes and major panic attacks, as well as energy crashes at 3pm , anxiety and depression.

    I finally realized it might have to do with my wonderful sleep crutch drug. I tried to get off cold turkey and had a horrible time with many sleepless nights over a month or so. Ambien turns off your brain, so when you don’t take it, it felt to me like my brain was stuck in the “on” position and I just couldn’t relax enough to sleep. The good news is, I finally got to the point where my body recovered enough to sleep and since then I have slept 6 or so hours most nights.

    Cognitive sleep therapy books available on the Internet helped — the basic message is that you need to accept the sleep will come eventually and not be so anxious about sleeping, and only try to sleep when you are really tired and can’t keep your eyes open. Relaxing music also helped, kind of a “cue” it is time to sleep. Reach out to your friends for support too. Just the fact that they cared helped and I heard lots of “what I do when I can’t sleep” stories. I do take melatonin (4mg) about an hour before bedtime every night and it seems to help.

    I function OK on 6 or 7 hours of sleep and that is so much better than zero. None of the prescription “lesser evil” options worked for me, though the doctor did prescribe some. I still have a sleepiness night once in awhile, but the pounding heart, heightened anxiety, shortness of breath, light headedness, need to nap in the afternoon and weakness all have mostly disappeared. Hang in there, it is worth it to get your brain back!

  19. We take these drugs, often at the suggestion/urging of our doctors whom we have been taught to trust that they would never do anything to harm us. I have learned a brutal lesson. You have to take responsibility for what you put in your body. As a very good doctor who was very conservative in her prescribing habits once said to me: No drug is benign. They all have side effects that have the possibility of destroying us. It is very easy to paint oneself into a corner and not be able to find a way out. I am recovering from several psych drugs, including ambien.

  20. Started with 5 mg of Ambien 15 yrs ago when I had breast cancer. My prescription plan switched to Zolpidem, didn’t seem to work as well so started 10 mg. The problem with this drug is we build up a tolerance so I stated taking 20mg, 10 to fall asleep then 10 about 4am. My husband has prescription also but only takes it occasionally so I would use his prescription up when I ran out.

    I hate being addicted to anything but when I try to stop besides being awake and tired the nightmares are terrible. I want to taper off but get so frustrated I end up taking more in the middle of the night. I agree that this drug should be off the market, it is so addictive and so hard to stop.

  21. Yes there is hope, I am off 3 years of 10mg 3 weeks now and have no side effects most people have had. The first 3 days is tough, but after that a noisy fan and glass of wine works for me. My head is clearing up, my dreams are returning to normal and the feeling of addiction is tapering off. I will never become a heavy sleeper that some people are gifted with, but getting my body dependency off the Ambien was my goal.

    In reading all these notes from people I would say for the long term users or high mg users should taper down in strength and then go cold turkey. Also in my opinion for people that have to sleep for medical reasons or adjust their sleep habits from stress or traveling, stay on Ambien and adjust your lifestyle. Good luck to all, and Thank you for listening.

  22. Everyone seems to be doing this the hard way! I read through all of these for some good ideas but they were mostly the same with severe side effects of no sleep. I had to find a different way to do this because lack of sleep is my key migraine trigger. I decided to reduce my Ambien by taking less along with a Benadryl and a melatonin tablet.

    I still got a good night sleep and slowly decreased my Ambien to nothing. Benadryl is a lot easier to get off of. When the Ambien was gone I added Valerian root and worked my way off the Benadryl. I still occasionally take a half of Benadryl if I have problems sleeping to keep the migraines at bay. Years ago my insurance decided there were no longer going to pay for my Ambien CR so I found a way to work myself off of it.

    I used a pill cutter to cut up a 10mg Ambien tablet. I cut it in half and then cut one of the halves again to make two 1/4s. So I took the 1/2 to go to sleep with a half of Benadryl if needed. Then if I woke in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep I took a 1/4. Eventually went to taking a 10 mg at bedtime.

    I have learned that a lot of my symptoms of not feeling well were really cause by the side effects of the Ambien. I went through numerous tests and other drugs trying to fell better when all along it was the Ambien making me feel horrible! When you get off of this horrible stuff throw away the Ambien you have left in old coffee grounds so you are not tempted to ever take another one of these horrible pills!

  23. How blessed I was to find this site when I needed it the most. I have a similar story–except I have been taking 10 mg Zolpidem and 200 mg of Trazodone for 20 years. I am 55 years old, and I started noticing huge problems with my short-term memory. It was beginning to interfere with my job even though my principal was understanding.

    The food gorging at night keeps my bowels in an uproar, and I constantly wake up with bumps and bruises. Thank God I have never tried to leave my apartment. Two mornings ago I awoke next to a upturned bowl of cereal, and a mango with a butcher knife beside it. I couldn’t remember what I had for dinner the night before. So, last night I took 5 mg of the Zolpidem and my Trazodone.

    I think I slept two hours. I hope it will get better. Even if I get 4-5 hours of sleep every night, I will be happy. My brain was wired as a child not to sleep–I was a child of incest and I’ve made myself “hyper-vigilant.” I only share this because Ambien was my lifesaver for many, many years, but I feel it has done some long-term damage in my case. I am so happy that I found a forum like this.

  24. Thank you all! Having horrible symptoms while on Zolpidem 10mg after cutting back from Ambien CR 6.5 (which my ins co refused to cover anymore). Going to stop TODAY!! Can’t afford the $94.00/mo.) God Bless you all and good luck!!

  25. So good to know that I’m not the only one faced with the dependency of Ambien. I remember telling the doctor over seven years ago that I was afraid to be addicted to anything and she assured me that Ambien was not addictive. Ha!! We all know that’s not true. My husband had a terrible stroke and I became an instant caregiver.

    I was not sleeping well and that’s how my journey started. When I turned 65 Medicaid and my insurance company were saying that I couldn’t have Ambien any longer (10 mg), that I needed to have my doctor give them a special exception testimony. What?? The doctor’s answer was to lower my dosage to 5 mg and that is what I’m taking now. So with that being said, I’m considering tapering and getting the hell off this stuff. I’ve been taking the 5 mg with little discomfort.

    I’m not sleeping as well or as long, but well enough. Tonight I’m going to try to cut the 5 mg in half and see what happens. It makes me so angry that we are given these drugs, we trust the doctor’s to educate us, and we end up with bigger problems than what we started with. If only I had known at the time. I don’t take any medications anymore without thorough research before I do.

  26. Hey I am on my third day of stopping zolpidem. I didn’t sleep well on the first night just for an hour maybe, yesterday was better I slept for around five hours and let’s see how it goes today. I have been taking zolpidem 10mg every night since almost a year when I was prescribed this medicine as I just couldn’t sleep for more than 4 hours and lately 5mg more when I wake up in the middle of the night.

    However I read online about how it’s not as good and harmless as I thought it was. So I decided that I have to stop, though I didn’t really have any side effects while I was on it and slept well for the most part. But how long will I be dependent on a pill to put me to sleep? So I decided to stop.

    I took 7mg of it one night then 5 mg the next night and I stopped thereafter, flushing the tablets that I had left down the toilet. This is my third day, the first night was awful. I couldn’t sleep more than an hour. There was a little anxiety as well. The second night was better. I slept for around 4-5 hours.

    Today will be my third night hopefully it will be good. I have to deal with my thoughts that are mostly sleep related like am scared of not being able to sleep so I try practicing relaxation techniques and listen to a sleep hypnosis when I sleep. Hopefully I will get through this rough patch soon and sleep like I used before it all started.

    Best, of luck to all of you. All of us will get through this just hold on :)

    • Thank you so much for posting this, this has been a lifesaver of encouragement for me! I was on Zolpidem 10 mg for 1 night, all I could do was sleep all night and most of next day so I cut down to half pill, or 5mg. Then I noticed after being on it every night for almost 5 weeks, I couldn’t sleep without it.

      Along with being put on anxiety meds, Buspirone 10 mg twice a day, I was having more anxiety and all the problems others here were having. So I cut 5mg sleeping pill in half for a week then stopped altogether after 6 weeks. I also stopped taking anxiety pills twice a day, to half that pill twice a day (5mg) or 10 total daily now for 4th day.

      All symptoms are wearing me down. I’m a 68 year old lady, for a couple more months anyways. The first night I stopped the Zolpidem and cut anxiety pill dose in half, I slept great, right through the night for around 7-8 hours.

      Still had anxiety and all the other problems mentioned here, but made it through the day. Last night I couldn’t get to sleep at all, lucky if I got 1-2 hours total. Groggy and jittery, head fog, exhausted all day. Hope I can get some sleep tonight as I avoided naps so hopefully I can sleep better tonight.

  27. 28 years on 10mg Zolpidem. I tapered by a 1/8 every week am now on my last 1/8. I battled severe memory problems and it affected my work and studies. I also believe my weight gain is attributed to Zolpidem as my entire digestive system just stopped working. None of the supplements or medications I took at night digested at all. I believe I will be completely free in 2 weeks time. I couldn’t sleep since 2 AM this morning, but had wine, caffeine and sugar before bedtime. I am going to detox and help my liver by eating healthy from now on and avoid painkillers etc. Take care all!

    • Thanks for your reply Susan. I’ve cut down to half, but I still can’t seem to get myself up in the morning at all. I have a couple out of town visitors coming tomorrow so I have to be up and about early. I’m hoping to be able to overcame the fatigue. Sorry to hear about your digestive problems and I hope you recover from those soon. What an evil drug.

  28. Oh, am I glad I found this site. The last couple of weeks I have been coughing and vomiting, feeling weak and lightheaded with general anxiety. It never crossed my mind that I would be having withdrawal symptoms during the day. I’m 67 years old and have been taking Ambien for over 10 years at 10mg and sometimes 20mg.

    My doctor stopped prescribing it and I’ve been going to get it in a country where I can buy it over the counter and smuggling it in. Last night I watched a program about customs and immigration set in Australia, that showed all these people getting busted for importing drugs (just regular tourists) of course, I watched it until 4am and finally fell asleep and woke after three hours.

    I tried to get out of bed, but just couldn’t get myself up and went back to sleep for 3 more hours. The program really made me afraid of getting caught, I have just been extremely lucky. All of your stories have convinced me of the addiction and the need to do a taper down now! I honestly thought I was having congestive heart failure with all the coughing and nausea.

    I’m preparing myself for a rough time of it, but like one posters said-it is just sleep, you aren’t going to die. So 7.5 for me tonight and the next week, then 5mg for 10 days. I also bought a drug Ativan or Xanax (I can’t remember-there’s a hint) so if I get too antsy I’ll try a little of that.
    THANK YOU all for helping me not feel alone in this journey.

    • You can do it Sue! We all can do it. Funny how the doctors just cut you off – ah, who got you addicted in the first place?

    • The comment folks make about it is just sleep, not like you are going to die. Please read what happens to people who do not get 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night or the person who is on their 3rd day of no sleep and is so zoned out they step in front of a car, call and hit their head. The facts will astound you. Best answer is mind, body, spirit.

  29. I am on my third try to withdraw from Ambien/Zolpidem. I got up to 20 mg because 10 wasn’t working anymore, I first tried cold turkey and was so sick I went back to 5 and quickly back to 20. 2nd time I tapered an went back to 20 quickly again. Now I am out and have been out for several days. Withdrawal symptoms are not as bad this time so I am really going to try to get off for good this time.

    Horrible, horrible stuff and I am afraid I am never going to sleep again. I was also a victim of Effexor in the past, also horrible withdrawal. I agree that docs do not understand the issues with withdrawal from Ambien or Effexor, they both should be off the market.

  30. It was good to read I am not in this alone and reading the experiences of others helped. I took ambien CR 12.5 mg for 2 years then switched to zolpidem 10 mg because of insurance. I have been taking zolpidem 10 for 4 years and decided to quit cold turkey. The first night, I barely slept and when I did I had crazy dreams… not nightmares, just crazy dreams.

    I also had night sweats but really no other issues. Must say my mood was better even after the first night. Night 2 was the same as first night, took hours to get to sleep, but got better nights 3 & 4. Am now on night 5 so hoping it is even better. I will not go back on any sleeping medications.

    I did not take melatonin as that can screw up the ability for the brain to get back to a normal day to night pattern. I pray for you all.

    • This post, your story has given me great hope and encouragement. I’m stopping my zolpidem 10 mg cold turkey after being on it for many years. It’s just how I’ve chosen to do this. Last night was first night and the constant crazy dreams, hot flashes, and major headache were the worst. I know each day and night that I make it through it will get better and better. Your story gave me hope for that and knowing I can do it!

      • I am 64 female. Taking 10 mg for 15 yrs. Started having thoughts of not wanting to be here anymore. After a month of research it finally dawned on me it was the Zolpidem. Just hit the 2 week mark.

        Thoughts are gone but sleep doesn’t come till 4 am till noon. I stopped cold turkey. Mental haze is gone. I’m retired so the sleep hours aren’t a problem. If you work, do this on 2 weeks of time off. Flush the pills so you can’t get to them.

  31. I have been taking Ivedal (Zolpidem) for 6 years. I truly have such a panic attack when only thinking about not having it that I have never tried to stop! Originally my GP recommended I take them although I did not have any REAL sleep problems, just occasional difficulty – he also said it was absolutely safe and not at all habit-forming. In 2010 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and tried to stop taking the meds – no way, with the cortisone in the chemo it was impossible and after the surgery and radiation I never even tried to get off it.

    For quite some time now I have been experiencing a foggy brain and short to long term memory loss – can’t even hold a consistent conversation at times. Of course, I blamed the Tamoxifen (hormone-inhibiter drug taken after hormone related breast cancer for 5 years) so I stopped taking it two years ago, contrary to my Oncologists and family’s opinion. Although there has been a small improvement I now know that my problem rests with the sleep meds, I pray that my cancer does not recur due to stopping the Tamoxifen.

    Your site has convinced me and tonight I will be cutting my daily dosage of 10mg to 5. Will let you all know – the advice I have received from everyone will start me on this path to recovery, because that is what it is!! We place our lives and futures in Doctors’ hands, they need to be better informed.

    I read now that some people have been taking it for 20 years! In that time, surely conclusions have been drawn about the side-effects on hapless patients? Thank you for the advice on Melatonin and it’s long-term effects. I will try this for a while and the Valerian Tea as well. I do think, however, that good eating habits and general healthy living will get me halfway there.

    God Bless all fellow travelers on this road to freedom and good sleep.

  32. I too have been on Zolpidem for about 2/3 years. I have also been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, but after reading everybody’s stories I’m wondering why I am experiencing “withdrawal” related experiences whilst on Zolpidem. I am on 10 mg, and have noticed the following over the last say 6 months. I have horrible tremors/hand shaking. I have night sweats at night and awful nightmares after the initial “dead sleep” stage.

    I get up and have the munchies, or make food and wake up with the evidence in my bed. I forget things, I have no recollection of certain things I do and/or say. I am extremely anxious and often wake up with this tightness in my chest that actually physically hurts which is similar to a feeling of a wind that’s stuck, just way more painful. Lately I have to take 0.5mg Alzam as it puts into a severe panic.

    I very seldom used Alzam in combination with Zolpidem (it was initially prescribed as a combo at night to get me to sleep). I have fallen down the stairs and tore my rotator cuff only realizing the fall when I hit the ground. I have noticed that I battle with finishing sentences and at the end of the day I very very seldom sleep 6 hours whilst on the medication.

    And mostly of late I sometimes cant even remember what I did in the morning never mind the day before. I have not seen anyone else with similar experiences whilst on it, only what seems like side effects when starting to taper. I have also taken Wellbutrin 300mg for years now which was initially prescribed to deal with my anxiousness and insomnia.

    It feel in such a MESS and have been realizing for a while now that this can only be caused by Zolpidem. I am going to start tonight by halving my 10mg… wish me luck, I will keep you all posted. Hang in to everyone battling this… at least I don’t feel alone.

  33. Has anyone who has taken ambien for a LONG time because of SEVERE insomnia ever succeeded stopping? I could use some feedback on this. When I don’t sleep I get so sick and have had to go to urgent care for all the terrible side effects I have from not sleeping. I’ve been trying to cut back but once I get to 1/2 tablet that is the point where I can’t sleep… my asthma comes back, I feel sick and can’t do anything from depression even to go outside to buy groceries.

    • Kifflyn, I took it for about 15 years for severe insomnia and when I stopped cold turkey about 2 months ago. I had some significant side effects but it’s gotten much better. You really should see a doctor for help getting off especially with asthma and depression.

    • Yes. I have SEVERE insomnia. I am a survivor of severe child abuse and then attacked and stabbed multiple times by a deranged stalker. The nightmares are horrific and I relive my past in my dreams. I was prescribed Zoplidem to actually stop my nightmares. I saw a brain surgeon/PTSD specialist for the Airforce.

      I would go days without sleep and then finally exhaustion would kick in and I would only fall asleep during the daylight hours with someone sitting by me. I can’t begin to explain the sheer terror I lived nightly and it was terrifying to know that it could be waiting in my dreams. Then finally I looked at my medicine cabinet and realized I was a walking pill bottle just to function.

      Pills took place of feeling, caring, emotions and I lived so many years like that. Zolpidem by far was the hardest for me to quit. I was taking anywhere from 20mgs a day to 100mgs a day. It was mental addiction because that didn’t help me sleep for very long. It gave me 2 hours at most so I started taking 2 hours at a time here and there.

      I have been on the medication for 15 years and quit all of my meds cold turkey. These include Zolpiden, Trazodone, Ativan, Adderall, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Soma, Klonopin, Xanax, Valium, Zoloft to name a few. 63 days ago I dumped them all down the toilet. The first 7 days I literally thought I was going to die.

      I laid on the bathroom floor for 7 days straight. I did not answer my phone, I could not pick myself up to eat, bathe and on day 8 I started to move a bit. Every part of my body just hurt. I hallucinated. I was not only withdrawing from Zolpidem but all the other drugs. However, Zolpidem was mental and physical for me. That has been a crutch.

      47 days later I started to breathe easier, my mood was happy, I felt hope, I struggle to fall asleep just due to fear. I listen to music. I started yoga. That last attack I was stabbed 27 times, 3 broken ribs, broken nose, crushed my small intestine and I lost the baby I was carrying. I thought if I may it through all of that I owe it to myself to live a full and prosperous life.

      You can do this and please don’t let anyone tell you anything different. Each person is different. Don’t let it own you for one more day. Meditation, yoga, guided sleep will help. Try not to use over the counter because that is replacing one pill for another. Good luck to you my friend.

  34. Hey everyone – I have taken 10 mg nightly for 10 years. About a year ago I decided I wanted to get off of this stuff and I started some simple daily meditation. It’s not as hokey as it sounds. There are many ways get guided meditation – I use an app called Headspace – but there are many great ones. They have sessions for anxiety, Depression, self esteem, all of the things that I struggle with.

    Last week I cut the ambien out cold turkey and the first two days were rough (my doctor said to expect the first 4 to be bad) but a week in now I feel pretty good. I am exercising daily and eating well and squeezing in some daily meditation (5 minutes can make a world of difference). I do have some dizzy spells and I feel like I have some headaches and GI issues – but nothing unbearable.

    I’d recommend working on other parts of your health while weening or cutting ambien from your life. Each day is a little easier and it’s a long term goal for all of us to end the usage of the Rx. Best wishes in your journeys and remember – if you are hurting talk to someone – anyone. -M

  35. I have been using Ambien on and off for three years mainly to help with jet lag on overseas trips. At most one to three times a week. This last trip to Southeast Asia, I took it every night for two weeks straight. When I got back I did not take it and have started having vivid crazy dreams when I did sleep which was for only two or three hours per night.

    I have been off it cold turkey for only four nights. I think I will be successful getting back to normal because, while two weeks straight was a lot for me to be taking it, I believe I was at the cusp of serious dependence and probably had not crossed the line into addiction. Hopefully, I have dodged the bullet on this one. We’ll know in a week or two, I think.

  36. I have been on ambien (Zolpidem) since 2002. I was on 10 mg. for 13 years and then the doctor said that the maximum dose suggestion had been changed to 5 mg. So I went on 5 mg. about 1 year ago. I was taken off cold turkey about 1 month ago. I had the side effects that many describe. The nausea, vomiting, sweats, nightmares, body aches, etc.

    I did use melatonin 5 mg. to help with this journey. I had several nights with very little or no sleep. I was determined though that I would not take anymore ambien even though I still had some from a previous script. A few nights I took a couple of Benadryl since this makes me sleepy most of the time. Anyway I am writing to let you know that there is a light at the end of the rainbow.

    I was even buying things on the internet shopping channels without remembering while on the ambien. Things would arrive at my home and I wouldn’t even remember ordering them. This became a bit problem and an expensive one. After a couple of weeks I am Ambien free without any problems other than a few. Still body pain and nightmares but I have beat this habit. And if I can you can too. Pray a lot. God will help you if you ask and listen.

    And don’t listen to a doctor like mine who in 2002 told me that I could take it for my insomnia for the rest of my life. It was not habit forming and not a problem. His own mother was taking it he said for years and years and he wouldn’t have let her take it if there was a problem. I now am not feeling Drugged all day the next day. Wake up in a much better frame of mind.

    And now can say after a month that I am not having problems going to sleep except for once in a while which everyone does have this problem. Just think I should have been tapered off the ambien instead of cold turkey but this is the way my now doctor decided for me to do it. Not sure why but am so glad that the addiction is over. Good luck to everyone on their journey.

  37. Ah man, I need to work my way off these pills and I’m scared as hell. Like many others, I make it a few days of hell with no sleep, pain, mental anguish and I always give in and go back on. My body and mind just cannot go to sleep without them, even with the meds my sleep is terrible. Crazy, scary nightmares on the days I’ve been off. God, how did it get this bad?

  38. I’ve been on Ambien 3 years going on 4. I have terrible insomnia. So tonight I didn’t take it. I had vivid dreams. Really bad nightmares. I’m 28 and I want to be off of it. I did labs a week ago to see if it has done any damage on my liver but thank God all labs were fine. I take 10 mg by the way. How can I stop taking this drug?

    I’m not going to lie I’m pretty scared and nervous. I also take zoloft. I started off 100mg went to 50mg. And 4 months ago I decided to start taking halves. So now I’m on 25mg. I take Xanax but not as often only if I need it. Which is never. But Ambien, my body is hooked on it, without it I can’t sleep. Hopefully I can get off of it.

  39. I typically take my 30 day supply in 2-3 days. 10 mg tablets. I have a severe seizure disorder. So here I am. Third night of no sleep because I am out of medicine…again. I sit, in wait, for my next grand mal seizure due to lack of sleep because I have abused my Ambien yet again for the month and am not getting the proper sleep. I have been on this medication for about 15 years. It is destructive, addictive, and wonderful all at the same time. I hate it. I love it. I wish that I had never met it. End of story.

  40. Hi Everyone, I’m a 70- year-old who has taken 5 mg Zolpidem for 5 years. I have lost my short term memory, am in a fog all the time, and even have fallen asleep while driving (!!!). I am starting a tapering program that I designed myself. I’ll continue to take the drug but once per week I will take only half. The following week I’ll take half twice a week. The next week will take half three times a week. When I’ve gotten to the point of taking half a pill every night I will start eliminating that dose one night a week, then two, etc. or maybe it will take longer.

    To me, no sleep is like the kiss of death. I went through withdrawal 35 years ago from another sleeping pill and it was the most traumatic experience. I’m older, much less resilient now, no energy and a bad outlook. I really don’t want to look like a sleepless old hag from withdrawal but there’s nothing else to do. Please someone write. Thank you.

    • Hang in there, Ellen you’re not alone. It looks like we’re all in this together because the experiences are so similar. I can’t remember how long I’ve been a user because my memory is shot but it has been years. If your plan doesn’t work try another.

      I’d say lock the pills in a safe deposit box because if they’re easy to get to you can easily rationalize taking them. Driving under the influence is so scary. We’ve all heard the stories of well known people who did that and many don’t believe how it happens but we do. I’m quitting cold and there are some unpleasant side effects but I’m determined to work through.

      I have extra Ambien in the house but I don’t know where I put it and I’m not about to go looking for trouble by looking for it. I always thought if somebody broke in and saw it they’d take it and it was just too precious to lose. My jewelry stayed out but the pills were hidden. So sad but we’ll make it.

    • Hi all, If you’ve been off ambien for a while now, I’m wondering if the short-term memory problems have improved. I have also been on ambien for over 12 years, take .75mg a night, and I have noticed an immense change/decrease in my memory and an increase in mental fog. I’m really concerned I’ve done permanent damage. Any feedback is appreciated! Thanks.

  41. I recently stopped Ambien after 7 years of 10 mg per night. Tapering is the way to go. I dropped to 5 mg for a month, then 2.5 mg for a couple of weeks and then worked down to 0. Those first few nights are difficult because you can’t get any sleep. I did get some help from some left over Promethazine that I had. (It is prescribed for dizziness).

    You could probably use Dramamine or an over-the-counter sleep aid. I also took vitamin B6 which seemed to help. I did develop constipation while on ambien and a few days after I stopped it I developed diarrhea that has stayed with me almost 3 months.

  42. I had/have insomnia. After multiple years of combat and multiple years as a paramedic, I just ended up broken. I also had a couple herniated disks in my back and have/had what I would call mild lower back pain for 15 years. I would get in bed at 9pm, lay there until 11pm, fall asleep but it was a light sleep and wake up after 2 hours, asleep, wake after an hour, asleep and wake and asleep and wake, over and over.

    Sometimes I would startle awake, think its been 2 hours and it was only 15 minutes! Every small sound, my wife moving, the dogs moving, wind, the home air conditioner, anything would wake me up. So frustrating. I finally went to my main doctor and he gave me ambien 10mg. He said only take when needed, that ended up being every night, sometimes I would also take a melatonin, sometimes I would also take 60mg benadryl and 600 mg ibuprofen, it varied, based solely on how I was feeling.

    It has been 10 months. 5 days ago I stopped taking it cold turkey. The first night I went to sleep after an hour or so and slept for like 4 hours, again for 2 and then 1 and woke up. I felt ok. I felt proud that I slept that much with no drugs. My mood felt fine. I went to work and felt happy and more friendly. The nights have been that way, lay awake for 1-2 hours and sleep for like 4 and then toss and turn the rest, I am having some dreams and I changed my room around, changed my pillows, set my home to 69 degrees F at night, locked my dogs on the other side of the home.

    I am now in my 6th day, I am at work with a headache, I felt really light headed earlier but I am not sure if that was due to a poor breakfast and I needed lunch. My lower back pain has come back and now my next also aches. I definitely think that the more intense relaxation in bed at night helped my back heal. I will say that my co-workers have said things to me like “hey, you seem like you are in a better mood”.

    So I don’t know. I plan to try and work in exercise in the mornings for 30 minutes and I want to cut back on all the coffee/caffeine/sugar. I am 40 years old, male. I don’t want to be on ambien forever. I know its going to totally lose its effect and what happens at that point? I think I will ask my doctor for an official sleep study test to see if there is something else going on. Hope you all find your own peace.

  43. I guess I’m am the fortunate exception. I have been on ambien CR 12.5 mg for about 5 years and have not taken for 4 nights while staying with my Mom in the hospital. I actually slept to my surprise! So I am going to stay off of them. I wear a c-pap and do not reach REM sleep.

    • Hi Alice. I’m in a very similar situation like you. With my Doctor’s care I’m stopping Ambien CR. I have 3 more nights before I get back to work. Did it get easier after your second and third night. Many thanks.

  44. I am just wondering I have been taking zolpidem 10mg for 15 years. I am now on 30-40 mg a night. I have never had a break. Should I taper my withdrawal or cold turkey? Stilnox still helps me sleep and I don’t have any side effects with them. Thanks for any responses.

    • I would really recommend tapering off your dose, under the supervision of your doctor. This way you can avoid any serious withdrawal effects and will have a greater chance of getting off the ambien successfully.

  45. I have been on Ambien 10 mg for about 10 years now. About 2 months ago I tapered down to 5 mg with no real problem. Then about 2 weeks ago I began to wake up at 3 or 4 am every morning and was not able to get back to sleep until maybe 6 am, and I have to wake up for work at 6:30 am. So that really wasn’t working.

    This weekend I decided to try doxylamine succinate 25mg instead of the ambien. The first night was miserable and I ended up taking ambien 5mg at around 3 am, and slept like a baby until 8 am. The last three nights I’ve taken either doxylamine succinate 25 mg, or ZZquil which is diphenhydramine 50mg.

    Long story short has any used these OTC drugs to help wean themselves off of the Ambien? If so has it helped or just made it worse? I’ve been having restless sleep, but it’s a sort of in and out sleep… Thanks so much for the advice. If any other OTC sleep aids help, please let me know.

  46. I have been off of Ambien for 1 week. I have been taking it for 11years. I had a horrible 2 days of not sleeping and a terrible headache. I have had off and on dizziness and feel kind of shaky first thing in the morning. This all seems to be tapering off now that I am 7 days into it.

    I finally could fall asleep the 3rd night but very restless. My son introduced me to Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). These can be found on YOUTUBE. It is gentle whispering that helps relax your body. These have helped tremendously. I am usually asleep in a few minutes after I start a video. Maybe this will help someone.

  47. Adding my experience here in case anybody else is like me. In November of 2015 I was prescribed Seroquel as a sleep aid by my old doctor, and then was taken off of it cold turkey after a month of use and my doctor doubling the dose. To this day I don’t know why my doctor chose that drug, as I don’t have any diagnoses of anxiety, depression, or anything like that, and never have had – just occasional insomnia.

    Then again I’m a college kid who works mornings and has a room mate who works evenings, so sometimes my schedule is challenging. Anyways, I went on Ambien in order to cope with the withdrawal of coming off Seroquel. I’ve only been using the Ambien for three weeks, but in that time I think it has caused me a lot of trouble. I’ve learned that in spite of what doctors are sometimes willing to prescribe, everybody reacts to medication differently and it’s important to be cautious, as informed as possible, and over-communicate with your doctor if you have to even if they seem to brush things off.

    When I started taking Ambien it was the only thing that could put me out of my misery from the Seroquel withdrawals. At first it put me to sleep like magic. However, after two weeks, it stopped having the same effect and I began taking two 10 mg tablets to get through the night. At the time it seemed better to get good sleep, because the withdrawal symptoms I was having seemed to hit me much harder when I didn’t. But in retrospect it was probably a mistake.

    With the higher dose of Ambien I started having awful stomach pain, body aches, chest pain and getting even poorer sleep because it became so fragmented. At the worst, I have taken two at night, waking up every few hours and then needing another to fall asleep again, and then a third one to nap the next day because I would wake up feeling so fatigued and horrible. I knew I was taking too much but didn’t think it could be hurting me worse than the Seroquel withdrawal, especially since every doctor I talked to about my symptoms seemed to say “We can’t find anything wrong with you, so we don’t know what’s happening.

    We would worry about you if you’d been on Ambien for a few months, not a few weeks.” So this is the warning that some people SHOULD worry, even after only a few weeks, especially if you’re finding yourself taking more to get the same effect. I finally googled the side effects of Ambien and found out that the symptoms I was having – stomach pain, nausea, extreme fatigue, weird hot/cold body aches and a burning feeling on my skin – were probably as much due to the meds I was on and the way I was using them as they were due to the meds I was coming off.

    With this in mind, I began to taper down my dose three days ago. On Monday I found that about 12 hours after the previous night’s dose that I began to feel much better. Unfortunately this was in some ways the calm before the storm. On Monday night I took two 10 mg tabs rather than three and did not sleep well at all – I got maybe three hours. Tuesday morning I still felt ok, but by the afternoon I was in rough shape.

    I had nausea and vomiting again, and by the evening had bad cramping in my lower back and stomach, fatigue like I hadn’t slept in days, and have had a persistent ringing in my ears. Last night I only took one 10 mg tablet, and the good news is that I slept for about five hours rather than waking up every two or three. This seems like a sign that my chemistry is coming back to normal, but in spite of the sleep the fatigue and weird muscle pain has been hard to deal with.

    It feels more like I didn’t sleep at all. So tapering has been hard, but worth it, because even if I feel unwell now, it’s honestly not as bad as it was when I was taking 3 Ambien in a night. It seems like the symptoms have been coming and going in waves and it’s mostly that my body feels seriously exhausted. I’m hoping this clears up soon and gets easier because I’ve only been on Ambien for three weeks, and only used more than the prescribed dose for one of those weeks, so it hasn’t necessarily been a long term dependency.

    Hopefully I can continue to taper down quickly and stop using it all together. Anybody with a similar experience who can give me some advice or reassurance on this would be appreciated. My biggest frustration has in a lot of ways been with doctors. I really didn’t want to come off another drug without some supervision, but my doctor’s only response to my questions so far has been “stop taking the Ambien.”

    How? I’ve basically just made up my own plan to taper off and am trying to stick to it. My plan is to take only one pill tonight, and then half of one the following day and hopefully stop using it altogether by the weekend. I really just want to be done with all of this. At this point I really don’t think primary care docs should be able to prescribe psychiatric meds like Seroquel, and maybe not even strong sleep aids like Ambien.

    The consistent response I have had when reaching out to doctors for help through this experience has been “Well, we’re not psychiatrists, we don’t have as much experience prescribing these drugs.” The first time I ended up at an urgent care with horrible mental fog and uncontrolled muscle twitching after stopping the Seroquel, the PA literally Googled it.

    I feel like drugs like this are greatly over-marketed and overused, especially by doctors who, just saying, are not experts in mental health and related treatments, even if they’re very willing to prescribe for them. Anyways, that was kind of a downer of a story, but hopefully it helps somebody – and if anybody with a similar experience has advice or anything to offer me it’s appreciated. Hang in there everybody, we can do this, and it’s worth it :)

  48. Ambien really worked–at first. Six hours of dreamless, uninterrupted sleep was amazing, but it quickly turned to dependency, headaches, nightmares, and something I had never experienced–depression? Me? I didn’t want to do my job (I’m a college prof.) walk the dogs (I’m a fitness fanatic) or do anything, really. Not like me. Maybe it was the drug?

    So I quit cold turkey and had memory loss, whopper headaches (never had headaches in my life except maybe in college after a night out) muscle aches that were incredibly painful after workouts, and generally just hated myself for all of that around the clock. The six hours of drugged sleep wasn’t worth it. It’s time to go natural with a hot bath, a little stretching, breathing, maybe some reading and most of all, patience.

  49. Hey guys, I just started tapering off of Ambien. The main reason I was on it was because of my husband’s snoring. He rattles the roof. I was getting to where I was sleeping in the other bedroom. That started giving us problems in our marriage. So my doctor gave me a script for ambien. It was great. I was in such a deep sleep I couldn’t hear nothing ?.

    But as time went on, it started making me feel tired during the day. I tried cutting it back, but then it wasn’t enough to block out my husband’s snoring. So what do I do? My doctor said it was interfering with my other meds, Wellbutrin 300mg daily and Zoloft 150mg per day. I just still felt depressed and not happy with myself. I felt like crap. So she started weaning me off of the Ambien.

    The first night no sleep. The next morning around 9 AM got a little sleepy, but just closed my eyes and rested. Stayed in bed until noon. Next night no sleep until 3 AM in and out of sleep. Seems to getting better. Husband doesn’t know it yet, but he will be going and getting a sleep study and be put on a C-PAP or quit drinking beer and smoking. He is very overweight and he hacks and coughs all the time.

    Wish me good luck. And GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE ELSE. Thanks for all the helpful information.

  50. I’m so glad I stumbled across all your stories and advice. I’m 43, I’ve started Zolpidem, back in 2004, because work stress, multiple various surgeries with painful recoveries, and severe anxiety and relationship stress. Slowly I advanced to 12.5 mg( for the last 3 years now). My health has declined so much during this time. I’ve gone through soooo many different tests, everything comes back fine or acceptable.

    Very frustrating, because I feel awful. At 12.5, I fall asleep in approx 30 minutes, but NEVER get more than 3 hours straight sleep. I’m fatigued during the day, my stomach is almost constant pain, back pain and muscle spasms so intense at times ( that prevents my sleeping), my long and short term memory has been compromised. Scares the death outta me. I’m only 43. I even forget why I walked into the room sometimes, or what I was in the middle of doing. I have stress headaches, at work, a lot.

    I have vision impairment, at times. Recently I’ve had a few bouts of severe heartburn. Wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Weight gain, from being tired during the day, and having no energy to do more than struggle to get through my full-time work day. Honestly, my body in general feels like I’ve aged 20 years. If that makes sense. My sex drive is near zero. Ive recently married the man of my dreams.

    The guilt I carry, about our sex life is terrible. I’m attracted to him, occasionally the desire comes, but the physical and mental exhaustion, doesn’t allow me to follow thru with intercourse. Makes me feel terrible, because I love him so much. I’ve done a lot of research on it. I’ve read all your stories too. My conclusion is that it’s time to get off it. I know that it’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

    I’ve called my Dr today. He’s prescribed me a 2 week lower dosage of 6 mg. I’m to take them for 2 weeks, and then stop. I’ve also learned that melatonin is not a long-term solution either. Taken for a long time it decreases your natural production of it, which you need to fall asleep. So be careful, if that’s what you’ve been leaning on.

    One thing my husband and I discovered recently, which he LOVES is Sleepytime tea bags, with valerian root. There are several, on the shelf, that look similar. So make sure you pick the one that says valerian root, on the front. It has been so helpful, for both of us. And natural! you can find it in any large chain grocery store, approx $4. My other pieces of advice to anyone attempting this major adjustment.

    Turn off your smartphones about an hour before sleep time. No bright lights AT ALL! Buy flameless candles, with timers. I purchased a sound machine, at Bed Bath and Beyond, by ” Deep Sleep”.we have tried several other cheaper ones, but this one has been by far, the best. BEST investment we ever made! It has thee best and loudest different white noises at the highest adjustable levels.

    It will help with a snoring spouse, noisy neighbors, street noises, ANYTHING that might be waking you, and you don’t realize until you’ve been wakened. Please try one! Their return policy, at that store is great. But I promise you won’t want to return it! Try to do this withdrawal process if you have any vacation time, or no major commitments lined up. Allow yourself some time to go thru some sleep deprivation. Maybe we won’t have any?

    Boy, wouldn’t that be a blessing. But chances are, if you’ve been on it as high, and long, as I have we will have some withdrawal symptoms. I’m so desperate, at this point, with so many ailments that match with so many of all your stories. I really appreciate you all taking the time to share your stories and advice. It has helped given me more knowledge, determination and inspiration to quit.

    I will also be doing a lot of praying. God has helped me many obstacles in my life. I will also pray for you all, for strength to endure. I will try to update, to let you all know, what my future health becomes. Peace and luck with you ALL. As well as your partners and spouses. ? It is extremely helpful if you have their support and patience, at this time.


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