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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 comments… add one }
  • Andrew February 9, 2016, 4:14 am

    I’ve been taking Ambien for 4 years or so. Prescribed 10 mg, but most of the time I took just half of that. I have to say…it was a great for the most part. No side-effects, and I generally felt great the next day. However, none of us ever want to feel like addicts, right? So, I decided to quit last week (along with a temporary alcohol break too). Since then, I’ve had bad headaches each day. Not truly debilitating, but bad enough to make we wonder why I gave up Ambien in the first place. Am I making a mistake in giving up something which was seemingly working for me?

  • Tansy February 8, 2016, 5:05 pm

    I have taken only low doses of ambien, able to cut 5mg into thirds. My pharmacist now says the 5 mg pills are no longer manufactured and the 10 mg pills are too tiny to cut into smaller doses. This feels like an effort of manufacturers to increase dependence and make weaning off ambien much harder. This in spite of the recommendation for women to take lower doses.

  • Dianne February 1, 2016, 5:28 pm

    I have been on Zolpidem, generic Ambien for 4 months. I have 4 pills 10mg left. plan to cut in half, take 5 mg. for 4 nights and then less for 4-6 nights, then STOP…this has caused me health issues and just today am connecting all the dots! Have been going to specialists for 3 of the 4 months, I have developed myalgia and abdominal issues…

    I have been wracking my brain with the timeline for the onset of these issues and the doctors inability to find a reason/cause for them…then after lengthy reading just this morning I found ALL of my issues way down deep into the “side effects” of several articles… RARE in some cases. And they match my timeline! I am blessed to have a very empty schedule this week and next so plan to start the withdrawal and not have to worry about any of my responsibilities suffering if I have problems with the process.

    I would like to think only being on it for 4 months the withdrawal would be easier compared to so many stories I have read on this site being 5, 7, 10, 12 years! HOWEVER, considering how quickly and hard the side effects hit me and knowing every BODY is different I am not the least bit relieved that short term use translates to easier withdrawal. FINALLY so relieved I am getting my own answers today after having spent the past 3 months with specialists and being tested for my symptoms/pain THINKING my ailments had nothing to do with the Ambien.

    I first had the myalgia diagnosis from a rheumatologist, right now I am waiting for results from tests for pancreatitis. I have had a 3-D CT Scan 30 blood tests, last week a full organ ultrasound… I have been told to take up yoga for the relief of BOTH issues and now I just wish I had taken it up for the sleep issues!! Hope this all works out, but just this knowledge gives me HUGE hope for relief!

    Plan on starting a practical exercise regimen, getting the melatonin and I have no problem giving up sugars and processed foods. I had done that to lose 26 pounds 3 years ago and have kept the weight off but went back to perhaps more sugar and carbs then I should. It really was the best I ever felt and it did have some effect on better sleep…GOING to DO THIS! Your post really helped me! Dianne

  • Diana January 26, 2016, 1:44 am

    Folks, I’m not sure why anyone would want to go cold turkey. Tapering off is much easier, I think. My trouble is: I’ve quit Ambien several times, tapering off, but as I still had the drug around, when I felt antsy about sleeping I reached for it and then soon was depending on it again. The darn stuff works too well.

    One tip for quitting, that worked for me: when I got down to an amount that really didn’t help me sleep, I took a mild dose of lorazepam (Atavan) for a couple of nights, then switched to melatonin + valerian. That worked for me. Until I got sucked back into Ambien… So I can’t keep the pills around, at all.

    • Cory April 29, 2016, 1:57 am

      Diana, I’m gonna try your Lorazepam trick. I want to see if I can sleep better through the night. I usually wake up at 3-330am and can’t get back to sleep without taking another half of zolpidem. I take Olanzapine at night and have been for 8 months. I’m gonna try and get off this soon.

      It worked well 8 months ago. Got off the zolpidem and was feeling great. In January I started in again on the zolpidem off and on. Been taking it every night since late February. I can take between 5-10mg a night. How long did you do the Valerian for? Cory

  • Martha January 24, 2016, 3:27 am

    The headaches have been horrible!

  • Barb January 11, 2016, 5:40 pm

    I have been on zolpidem for about 7 or 8 years. I was taking 10mg. I have reduced to 5 mg for last year and then I would take my 5 mg every other night. I am now stopping all together. It has been 4 days and I wake up after 4 hours but am able to fall back to sleep. I feel a bit dizzy during the day and a little off-balance. I had some light headache also. Better today (5th day completely off) but I was wondering if this lightheadedness goes away? I also have been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome and that wakes me up at night. Thanks.

  • Bette January 10, 2016, 2:25 am

    I have been taking ambien 15 years, I have tried to get off them. I have not taken one in three nights. My dreams have been horrible and I’ve gotten no sleep. I am determined to beat this… so will try lower the dose. I just can’t stand this nightmare.

    • Barb January 11, 2016, 5:42 pm

      I too have some pretty scary nightmares. It has been 4 days since I have been completely off. Lightheadness is my major complaint. Didn’t have any nightmares last night though.

  • Lisa December 19, 2015, 1:23 pm

    I’ve been on ambien cr 12.5 for over 10 years. I quit cold turkey last Monday. I’ve only had withdrawal effect of a headache. That’s it so far. I had to get off the meds because I was unable to stay asleep on my dosage and would have to take more. I’m 48 and I weigh under 150 pounds. FYI – I had built up a tolerance to my dosage. Hope others are doing well.

    • Allen. September 1, 2018, 5:09 pm

      Hi there. I’m also on 12.5 CR and with the help of my psych doctor I decided to go cold turkey. I’m going on my second night and did not sleep hardly at all last night. When did your side effects subside?

  • Candace December 13, 2015, 6:34 pm

    Been on this for around 20 yrs, due to life stressors, marriage problems, sick parents, full-time job and child. Now, I am down to 1/2 of 10 yeah, huge step. I am taking it gradually and now sleeping better with the low dose. I do have body and muscle aches and take more Ibuprofin. Am planning on trying L-theanine once I research. I do feel cold and hot more frequently. Need to find some calming reads and uplifting writings.

    Still, this stinks, they should not prescribe this, I still suffer from memory loss and dizziness. Wish people would understand this, but who wants to tell everyone that they are having sleep issues when most people just fall asleep anywhere. I have to work, so if I get one hour of sleep, two, does not matter, I still go to work in a high-stress job at a thankless institution. Hang in there and pray; pray a lot.

  • Sheri November 10, 2015, 12:52 pm

    OMG! They should take it off the market!! I’ve been on it approximately 20 years. When it first came out. The last 5 years I was up to 50mg a day. I also take cymbalta 120mg a day. I ended up in the ER for attempting sucide and spent 3 days in a psych ward. HORRIBLE. They cut me cold turkey with no substitutes. I am 7 nights with out. I do all the natural breathing techniques they taught me.

    And now when I doze off for like 10 min, I jump in my sleep and feel like I’ve stuck my finger in a light socket. It’s horrible. I feel like I walk like a zombie around. I feel I am not getting attiquate care! Thank you military hospitals!! Any suggestions? I feel like I’m crawling out of my own skin. This addiction almost cost me my marriage and losing my children. It’s just as addicting as street drugs.

  • J. D. Chaney November 9, 2015, 5:35 pm

    Eleven year ambien user due to chronic insomnia. 67 -years- old. Started cold turkey a week ago and ABSOLUTELY no sleep other than an occasional hour or two. Frankly, if it weren’t for my wife I think I’d end it. Also trying to stop valium 5 mg. per night. The reason I’m quitting is that the ambien is not working anymore. The no sleep issue is pure hell. I feel like a six foot blob, unable to function. I hope I can continue with this process as I’m losing weight and unable to do my normal two mile daily run.

  • Ricky October 27, 2015, 1:52 am

    I have been on ambien since it went on the market. I have severe insomnia my whole life due to a seizure disorder that impacts sleep cycle when I have them. My tolerance to the med grew and dosage grew to horrific numbers. Over the past year I have cut my use in half but I do still want to use it at a normal low dosage.

    My body is slowly making the turnaround with me and was prescribed for those side effects at night a low dose of seroquel. That’s just for when the really bade side effects are going off and they work. Ambien is wonderful but at the same time evil for what it can do. For long-term high dosage users like me DO NOT go cold turkey. You owe it to yourself and TAPER.

  • Jon October 18, 2015, 3:58 pm

    I was on Tamazepam and slept great for 1 month but realized I must get off these pills, so I switched to ambien because it is easier to wean off of that than Tamazepam. But I would only get 3 hrs per 5mg! I was always tired. It took me 2 months to get off of ambien and it went like this. I would taper to 1/2 pill and then 1/4 and after about 2 months of that wanting a good night’s sleep I gave up and moved to 10 MG per night. Things were looking really bad. So I reached out to my doctor for moral support and she told me some things that helped me.

    1. It is just sleep.
    2. You’re not going to die.
    3. You can do it.

    She gave me the motivation to stop. I began to deliberately imagine myself sleeping well whenever the thought crossed my mind that I was failing. The next night I took 5 mg. The next I took 2.5. The next I took 1.25. The next night I took none and got 3 hrs sleep. I have been off and sleeping well ever since. Thank God. Also meditation helps a lot because it helps me to get rid of most of those inner angers and dissatisfactions that would tend to keep me up at night. Good luck to you. You can do it!

    • John October 27, 2015, 2:57 pm

      Great post Jon! I will try to remember those three points as I go through this process.

  • Maryfran Cogley October 11, 2015, 11:46 pm

    I have been on Ambien for 15 years. Just went off it two days ago cold turkey! No sleep so my husband bought me Inisom sleep gels 50mg. It says you won’t get addicted to them but I am scared! No side effects yet!

  • Lori September 25, 2015, 9:05 pm

    Is any one able to take naps during the day when weaning off ambien?

  • Jonna September 19, 2015, 5:27 am

    I was prescribed 10 mg for five years, 12.5 XR for two years. I did not realize that most of my suffering during the day that developed over the first year or so was due to daytime withdrawals from zolpidem. Years of suffering for nothing. I quit within a few weeks by shaving a piece off the tablet every night.

    I also did a lot of supplementation with things that feed the brain and body: Vitamin B, D, Calcium/Mag, Theanine, N-Acetyl Tyrosine helped tremendously, as did 5-HTP. I could literally feel the pain relief. Also N-Acetyl Cysteine for the toxicity, Citicoline CDP Choline throughout the day, Magnesium Threonate, fatty fish like sardines to feed my brain, melatonin to sleep at night and a lot of prayer.

    I have one year no zolpidem, sleep better than ever with calcium/mag, sometimes a 50 mg 5HTP when I start waking up at 3AM, and melatonin. I don’t take anything on the weekends to give my body a break. It was painful going at first, and scary because I didn’t know if it would end, but with all the supplements and prayer I was done in about a month and haven’t looked back. Have no desire to use the drug.

    Read up what others say about supplements, that’s how I learned to control the withdrawal symptoms, by kindhearted people who took the time to relate what helped them. So this is my thanks to them, and passing it on.

    • John October 27, 2015, 2:53 pm

      Thank you for paying it forward Jonna. I plan to try some/all of your suggestions. Hope they help!

  • raj dj September 11, 2015, 6:42 am

    I feel for everyone. I was prescribed the generic for Ambien, for a few months. It gave me a well relaxed night sleep. Knowing its addictive, I stopped using it at nights. I slept so so, which I could have dealt with. However, I started recently to have a little tremors, acid reflux at nights, and I get dizzy, weak in the legs, slight increase in pulse rate, hungry, slight tightness in chest, feeling fatigue, dry mouth, a bit anxious, and tired (mostly during the day for these symptoms).

    I never suspected it to be withdrawal symptoms, until I started to do some research about this drug. Initially, I got scared, visit my doc and requested a complete blood work. Everything came back perfect! I thought I had a heart problem, as these symptoms are similar. My doc told me my heart is perfect. I am getting these symptoms more during the day when I work. Its a scary feeling. A colleague of mine suggested Valerian root, which I plan using.

    Being a guy in my early 40s, I never knew I can experience abit of hot flashes too. My body is always warmer than normal and my palms get a bit sweaty at times. These symptoms I am now believing is from the sudden withdrawal, although I thought someone will get the withdrawal symptoms only if they were using the drug for years. Mine was used for only a few months, approx 7 months. I want you all to pray and believe in God. He will help you.

    But at same time, know that help may be needed for this withdrawal if symptoms are still there or is getting worse. I will pray for everyone too. I never realized that withdrawal can have these horrible effects. The valerian comes in a drop (GNC), or capsules, at your pharmacy. There is a tea bag preparation too. I pray that I get over this. I pray for everyone too. Eat healthy, lots of water, fruits and veggies.

    Exercise, walks in park, listen to calming music, read healthy articles, and have faith. That’s my advise. Hope this helps and good luck everyone.

    • Dianne February 1, 2016, 4:36 pm

      Rag dj, I am in your boat. I have been on 10mg for 4 months and am now connecting the dots to side effect reactions I have been happening for 3 of those 4 months. I am down to 4 pills and plan to cut them in half and then stop. I am very nervous about withdrawal. My fear is mostly due to the fact that the side effects came so quickly after starting…within 4 weeks, myalgia, abdominal pains…

      I am actually being tested for pancreatitis right now….this morning I got up and dug deeper into info on Zolpidem side effects and there it all was, “myalgia’s, abdominal and back pain etc.”. I had begged my doctor who prescribed if there was any possibility the problems were side effects and he said no…I should have gone with my gut then. Now I can only hope I can reverse those side effects when my body is clear.

      No sleep was not THIS bad!!! I agree with you, plan on a good practical life behavior change. Daily exercise, more water, less technology after 7 p.m., going to try Yoga (as this is the advice for myalgia and Pancreatitis…hhmm REALLY!) also I know from firsthand experience that cutting out as much sugar and carbs as possible is so much better for me.

      I have done it before and was at my best! Don’t believe it saying NEVER to any food but generations before us lived by the “everything in moderation” rule and I am embarrassed that as someone who believes in it, I have let this happen to me! Hope this works out! Your post is the closest to my situation so I am glad I saw it! Dianne

  • Norm September 10, 2015, 5:32 pm

    I am 76 years old and I have taken Ambien/Zolpidem since it came on the market. I am taking 10mg of Zolpidem. I started taking it because my job required me to take 3-4 tips a year to the Far East and I suffered from bad jet lag when I went overseas and when I returned. I stopped cold turkey about a month ago and have not had a good night’s sleep since then. I get in bed at 10PM but don’t fall asleep until between 3-5 AM. I generally wake up around 9 AM, start reading the newspaper and fall back to sleep until 11 AM.

    Other than the continuous sleep problems I’ve had no other side effects. Before stopping I realized that I had built up a tolerance to the drug. After finding this site and reading the problems of other people I have some question: Should I continue the cold turkey approach and how long should I expect to regain normal sleeping hours? or Should I start taking the pill again and then begin tapering off 1/4mg at a time?

    • Jill September 15, 2015, 8:16 pm

      Since your only withdrawal symptom seems to be difficulty getting to sleep, try taking melatonin at bed time first to see if that helps. Also try getting some exercise during the day and spending some time in the sunlight in the morning. Give it a few weeks to see if it helps. If that does not improve things then perhaps you can take half of a 5 mg tab and taper to a quarter tab.

  • Liz September 5, 2015, 7:49 pm

    Today is day 13 off the ambian after taking it nightly for over 10 years. I had terrible headaches and aches and pains. It’s been difficult to concentrate and really tough to sleep. Melatonin has helped though. But today begins a new symptom: my lip is quivering so badly and my fingers feel numb and tingling. Who can give me some success stories? I need to hear about people who have gotten off and stayed off. They’ve reached the promise land:-)

  • DC August 23, 2015, 12:06 pm

    I am a 54-year old woman and have been taking Ambien 5-10 mg every night for about 4 years for insomnia. My sleep issues are due to hormonal fluctuations and also the fact that I have to wake up at 4:30 for work. I went to a new doctor and he started me on Progesterone 2 weeks ago. I have been taking the Progesterone and 10 mg of melatonin at night, 3 nights ago I didn’t take Ambien and had nausea and stomach issues all night. The next night I took 2 Advil PM. I had 2 days of feeling pretty rough- anxiety, weak, agitated, but last night I slept well – 3rd night no Ambien. This morning I feel great, well rested, yeah! I am going to continue with Progesterone and melatonin at night.

  • Dotkom August 21, 2015, 5:03 pm

    I have fibromyalgia which basically means I’m an amnesiac in pain all the time. Actually, I’ve had sleep difficulties since 12 years of age. Too much on a young mind…now an old one. I’m 54 and have taken Ambien for 12 years. I love it. It’s worked well for me with no bad side effects. But I am beginning to need more & I don’t want to go down that road. So my question is: What do I take while weaning off & afterwards to help me sleep?

    I know that even if I kick this stuff I’ll be right back where I was before…wide awake all night. I do not want to live like that again. I’m reading about natural sleep aids but had no real help from then before. I may not have given them enough of a chance to work though. Any suggestions from you experienced amnesiacs?

    • Sleepless in Dallas September 9, 2015, 9:39 pm

      I understand Dotkom. I have fibromyalgia as well but only recently diagnosed but think I have had it for quite a while. I have been on Ambien for probably 7 years. I was on it before and slowly weaned myself off with cutting down on the Ambien very slowly and taking Xanax. Eventually after months I was able to sleep. I have never been to jazzed on Xanax so I don’t worry about getting addicted to that. I cant believe I got off of it and here I am 7 years later back on it. Reading all these messages and doing some web searching, it really makes me very nervous. I am going to make myself a chart and give the bottle to my husband. I seriously cannot be trusted with it. The urge to take it and to sleep are too strong. I wish I had never heard of this drug.

    • Dianne February 1, 2016, 4:22 pm

      Dotkom, I have the opposite problem. I have developed myalgia SINCE taking the ambien… some other issues too. I have only been on the generic form Zolpidem for 4 months…before my only problem was insomnia, now I have a host of issues including the myalgia… it is listed way down on the side effects list just above the RARE list. I have 4 pills left, 10 mg. I plan to cut in half and then stop…hope only being on them 4 months won’t cause hard withdrawal but am nervous. Dianne

  • sandra skillman August 20, 2015, 1:51 am

    I started weaning myself off ambien. I was on 12.5 I cut it into fourths. Went 2 or 3 weeks on 3/4 then 1/2 then 1/4 and have been off of it for about 2 weeks. I have been on ambien for a very long time. So far so good. I wake up during the night more than if I was on it. I’m determined to stop it forever.

    • Susan February 6, 2016, 4:07 am

      I am so sick of taking Ambien 12.5 for the last 4 years I think I will try to wean off slowly. I have to sleep or I can’t function at work. So I am going to split one in 1/2 and stay up as late as I can, then get up early so that by tomorrow night it might help. I also have Valium that I might take if I don’t sleep through the night. I want my trazodone back from years ago, it worked and was easy to get off. Then a kook neurological doc started me on Ambien and it wasn’t even necessary, but you trust your docs, not anymore. Good luck everyone!

    • Rita McGlone March 15, 2016, 11:04 am

      Sandra – Were you on the 12.5 CR Zolpiden? I was told you should never cut them since they time released. I have been on Zolpidn 12.5 CR for 5 months. I am very sleep sensitive and the pharmacy’s keep changing to a cheaper manufacturer and the fillers they use change the way it works on me.

      I no longer sleep all night with it and I want to get off of it. I was planning to go cold turkey but I am having second thoughts after reading all these comments. I am grateful for this site. Can any of you advise me on how I can taper off of it especially since they say you should not cut the time released ones?

      • Elaine April 8, 2016, 8:14 pm

        I was told by a doctor that once you cut the 12.5 pill it is rendered useless. I have been tapering off of Zolpidem for the past year under a doctors care. First, I tapered to a 10 mg pill. I stayed at that level for months. Then I cut it in half with a pill cutter and went to 5 mg for several months. Then I quartered the 10 mg pill and went to 2.5 mg for a couple of months.

        A week ago, I stopped completely. It has still been rough. Some nights I sleep a couple of hours. Some nights, not at all. But, I will NEVER go back.
        I took Zolpidem for around 10 years. I had casually mentioned to a doctor that I was having trouble sleeping. He quickly suggested this drug and assured me, when I specifically asked him, that I could not become addicted to it!

        Now I know! Today is my birthday. Going off of this drug has been hard but I wanted to do this as a gift to myself!

  • Cynn August 10, 2015, 3:29 am

    My doctor just switch me from 10 mg of Ambien to 5 mg of Ambien and I feel like I’m exploding from the inside out. I’m having hot flashes, severe headaches, I’m shaking, and nauseous. I’ve been on 10 mg of Ambien for 15 years now and I’m scared.

    • Lila March 8, 2016, 5:18 am

      Try natural supplements like valerian or melatonin. Chamomile or Celestial Sleepytime tea. These all have helped me as I reduce the amount of ambien slowly in combination. Cut 1/2 for 2 weeks, then 1/4 for 2 weeks. Use the natural products with reduction time, then use only the natural products. Yes it’s tough but you can hopefully stick it out. Ask at your health food store, maybe other things to help you too.

  • Anton July 19, 2015, 7:41 am

    I’ve been taking Zolpidem, generic form of Ambien 10mg at bedtime for about 5 years. I’ve quit cold turkey and my only issue is my inability to sleep!

    • John October 27, 2015, 2:47 pm

      Anton… were you able to eventually resume getting more sleep? I’m right where you were at in terms of years and amount of use of Zolpidem. I’ve tried quitting cold turkey before, but my resolve would waver after 4-5 days of little sleep. I’m committed this time to eventually getting free of this monster, but I think I’m going to taper this time. I currently use half a pill (5mg) at bedtime, and then take the other half when I awake 1-5 hours later.

      My plan is either to start knocking it down to 1/3 pill at bedtime, and 1/3 if/when I wake up. OR… just take 2/3 at bedtime and not allow myself any more when I wake-up. Then I’ll kick that down to 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 before quitting fully. The more I read of these stories, the scarier it gets… and yet the higher my resolve becomes to get the h#ll off of this stuff. Whatever it takes… I want to look at this experience in the rear-view mirror.

      • Peyton December 21, 2015, 5:03 pm

        Hi John, How are you doing? I hope you were able to recover from your withdrawal. I was only on ambien for 45 days and went cold turkey 6 days ago. I am managing between 2 to 4 hours of sleep a night. I have been on some form of sleeping pill for the past year and a half after I stopped a nine year Tramadol addiction. Sleeping pills will work for about 6 months but then the affect wears off as my tolerance builds up.

        I have decided pills aren’t a long term solution and only delay the inevitable – insomnia can’t be cured by drugs. I also used Tramadol as a crutch for sleep. I have decided I haven’t given my brain a chance to recover its natural circadian rhythm. So the only pill I am taking is Tylenol at night when I start feeling restless. Seems to help a bit. Hope you are feeling better.

  • Lisa July 18, 2015, 8:18 pm

    My husband is currently involuntarily committed to a psch ward from hallucinations (both visual and auditory) and paranoia from stopping Ambien cold turkey. He didn’t plan it, he just runs out after overmedicating himself, but he’s been on it 14 years even after I’ve BEGGED the dr to stop prescribing it to him. Anyway, he gets a 30 day script and then uses it all up in 20 days and then has nothing to take.

    This is his 3rd time doing this. This drug is a HORRIBLE drug!! I HATE it! It (as well as my husband’s abuse of it) have ruined his mind, our marriage, and our lives. I wish all of you the best trying to get free from the effects and withdrawal of this medication.

  • debra July 15, 2015, 3:07 am

    Well I was wondering why I wasn’t sleeping now I know. Took ambien for 3 months refill ran out so stopped taking haven’t slept more than a few hours in three nights. Leg pain and weird dreams when I do sleep. Not going back on it.

  • Lisa July 10, 2015, 5:05 pm

    I feel everyone’s pain. I took 10 mg of Ambien for 15 years. I had the pretty common incidents of being completely out of it, but continued to ambien eat, type, shop online etc. I fell one night into the dog’s water bowl and fell into my closet another time. Finally, in April 2015, I fell and broke the 3rd and 4th metacarpals which required surgery w/ a plate and screws. When my Dr found out I was sleepwalking when I fell, he took me off the Ambien.

    I am now trying Vistaril 100 mg, but so far no luck. People who sleep well have no idea what it’s like and it seems like the Dr’s don’t really care if we sleep or not. My Dr never mentioned a slow withdrawal off ambien. I wish I could do it now, but after 5 days off w/ little to no sleep, I wonder if I should just try cold turkey ? Any helpful comments? It is rough. I feel like an addict, and I guess we are… I never had any idea it could be so hard to get off it.

    • Marty March 19, 2017, 8:55 am

      I have been on 10 mg of zolpidem for a year and want to get off it. Lately it isn’t working so I cut a pill into half then cut those in half for 1/4’s. Then I cut the 1/4’s in half for 1/8’s. I took a 10 mg pill and 1/8th of a pill for the last two nights which seemed a little better. But after reading all these stories, I have decided to taper down and get off of it.

      I read that a slow tape r of ten percent a week is suggested. That’s hard to do with 10 mg pills. I plan to take a 1/2 pill, a 1/4 pill and an 1/8th of a pill which would be .875 for the first week. Then reduce it to .75 for the second week. Then to .625, .50, 3.25, 2.50 then 1.25 the nothing. This tape schedule would last 2 months. I will let you know how I make out.

  • Dave M July 6, 2015, 12:03 am

    I am a doctor. I have been using 10-15mg ambien for 12 years at night and sometimes 5mg in the afternoon to sleep. I have been having trouble with speech and short-term memory as well as hand shaking during procedures. It was a god-send for me when I was doing shift work, and I really liked the relaxation I felt. But now I am worried I may never get my mental function back, so I am trying to taper.

    I am trying to drink less alcohol which will reduce my need for 15mg. l have reduced to 5mg at night, but added 2.5mg of diazepam and 10mg of doxylamine (anti-histamine) to augment. Perhaps I should have gone to 7.5mg for a couple weeks but too late now. I have been sleeping very well but have been getting some morning dizziness, which gets better if I exercise. I have not noticed any improvement in other function. I still completely forget my sentence which can be embarrassing when talking to patients.

    I am going to reduce doxylamine to 5mg for next week, then reduce ambien to 2.5mg for 3 weeks, keeping the diazepam at 2.5mg. After that I might reduce Ambien to 1.5mg, keeping the diazepam. I feel I should reduce the diazepam last of all, some weeks after ceasing ambien. Then I will try melatonin or continue with doxylamine for sleep if needed. Exercise is the key. I was not truly aware of the long term effects of this drug, and I am a doctor. When I was training, all the doctors used it for shift work. It was called ‘magic’. It is a very good sleeping pill for occasional use, but I got to like it too much.

    • KE July 24, 2015, 5:12 pm

      Hi Dave, How are you doing now? I’ve been on Zolpidem tartrate 10mg for 6 years, past 4 years have been breaking to 3-5 mg a night. I’ve had trouble falling asleep for years, and my trouble staying asleep I think got worse since I started Ambien. I wake up between 2 and 4 times a night and sometimes can’t get back to sleep and then eat a tiny additional amount of the Ambien (maybe 1 mg). I’ve never taken CR. I’m curious to hear your opinion as a doctor who is educated on this if you think Ambien can cause frequent waking. My cortisol has not tested high, and I also take 10mg of Prozac. Before I started the Ambien, I was on clonazepam for years… I heard it mugs melatonin!!

    • Sleepless in Dallas September 9, 2015, 9:45 pm

      Dave M. I understand the “liking it too much”. I would have never thought I would be the kind of person that would ever get “hooked” on a drug. Mother of 3, full time job, don’t use drugs, etc. I asked my doctor about the diazepam and he said he would give it to me AFTER I was weaned off of Ambien? That is not what I have read is the normal protocol. I know it is going to be a journey and not a fun one at that. Good luck.

      • pbrain May 11, 2016, 8:47 pm

        Also a doctor who remains fascinated with biochemistry and pharmacology among other fields of biomedicine, there is no established protocol to manage Zolpidem (Ambien) discontinuation or withdrawal to my working knowledge. However, one could extrapolate an experimental protocol using BDZ mechanism of action and pharmacokinetics from the Physician’s Desk Reference.

    • Sarah December 21, 2015, 11:24 pm

      My fiancée accidentally took 140mg of sublinox (ambien) at once last Sunday and was fine all week until Friday evening when he couldn’t remember anything after 30 seconds. I took him to hospital but they sent us home with no advice. It’s is now Monday and he is still very confused and disoriented. Can anyone tell me how long it will be until he is back to normal? Or if he will ever be back to normal?

    • Jen January 16, 2017, 12:16 pm

      Dave M, I’m curious if your memory has improved since stopping Ambien. I am in the process of stopping because I have noticed the impairment in my memory and my personality in general. I have lost my wittiness. I’m afraid that some of this will be permanent.

    • Cheryl March 8, 2017, 11:45 pm

      Dr. Dave, I have been on 10 mg for six years. I tapered down to five mg ten days ago and am going to half that at the end of this week. For the past year I have been suffering from unexpected and severe vertigo, requiring hospitalization twice. My memory is also inhibited, as well as my fine motor skills.

      I am a court reporter; this is deadly to my career. I tapered to five mg – it’s been 10 days and I am no longer wobbly on my feet, and no more dizziness. I have started supplementing with melatonin (5 mg.). I think you will be surprised at how quickly you will be feeling better. Good luck to you, as well as everyone here.

  • Cindy June 9, 2015, 8:29 pm

    I have taken 10mg Ambien for 5 years. Last week after dreaming that I shaved my eyebrows, and waking up in the morning to find out I really had done it, my doctor has taken me off of it. It has been a rough week! Tried Trazodone for a couple days, and because I work and have to have some sleep, had to resort to taking half a pill at midnight when I still could not fall asleep.

    Now he has started me on a new drug, Belsomra. First night wasn’t too bad, but I am still tired today, and I thought I slept fairly good. It is costly even with insurance! $50 for 20 days; don’t know that I can continue it very long due to that issue. I am only on 5mg; so cut 10 mg pills in half. It has not been fun trying to stop Ambien.

    I did try one night taking Benadryl as a friend suggested. It didn’t work at all for me. We will see how this next week plays out. I have been very emotional since having to stop it, so I am not handling things the way I usually do. Hanging in there at this point!

    • Lila March 8, 2016, 5:13 am

      Go to your local health food store and talk to the holistic person for natural remedies. There are many. Valerian, melatonin, chamomile teas, etc. you may have to try several to see what works for you. It is worth it believe me.

  • Ron May 11, 2015, 5:39 pm

    I was on 12.5 for a couple years or so. I changed doctors, and I was informed that Ambien or any other sleep aid should be used up to 4 days max. The fact you need a sleeping pin is a red flag you have other issues. I expressed coming off of Ambien because after a couple of years it started making me high. I would get up in a blackout, post bad stuff on FB or twitter.

    I went for a sleep study. I stop breathing 9 times an hour. Between the CPAP and hygiene things improved greatly, but I was still on Ambien. I tapered 3 months of reduction to 6.25mg then I had 4 pills left after a doctor’s appointment. I was told to cut those in half and stop. A day or so after, I experienced severe stomach pain that would come in waves, followed by constipation. I got maybe 8 hours sleep over a few days.

    I was wired. No sleep. I hallucinated twice seeing people in my house. My balance is off. I slept better last night. We are about a week off them now. I’m feeling better than the first couple nights. I’m have high anxiety, and the shaking is unreal. I can barely type this. Hoping for the best.

    • tony January 10, 2016, 7:54 pm

      Ron, how are you now? (I’m in about the same boat you were in with ambien.)

  • alexandra May 10, 2015, 6:04 am

    I was very unlucky with this drug. I took it when I had a few nights of bad sleep, and then on and off, but only for about 3 months. Now I am 1 month off and still sleep extremely bad. I felt ill while on it and it didn’t help me sleep well either. But now I can’t seem to get my 7 hours per night, no matter what I do. I’m exhausted and I’m only 27. I’m afraid I will never be able to sleep good again.

  • Joyce April 30, 2015, 4:29 pm

    This is all so interesting. I told a friend, a former doctor, that I have been on Ambien for at least 18 years, since it came out. I take the 12.5 timed release. She said it was a horrible drug and that I should taper off of it. I also suffer from depression (not due to Ambien) and have been on antidepressants for 24 years. I get anxiety attacks just thinking about getting off Ambien.

    Last night I took my husband’s 5 mg pill instead of mine, along with 15 mg melatonin, not so bad. I have a pill cutter but the blue 12.5’s don’t cut well at all – they crumble. So I may have to ask my doc for 5 mg, and continue to taper. I love Ambien, sleep well, have wonderful dreams, and wake up feeling great. This will be as hard to quit as alcohol. My body is totally dependent on it. Thanks for all your comments.

  • Stephie April 24, 2015, 1:38 pm

    I was on Ambien for 10 years. I was a night shift worker up until a year ago and decided it was time to taper off. I had tried before but was very difficult. I spoke with my HCP and she suggested melatonin. I started my cutting the 10mg in half to 5mg for 3 weeks. The cut to 2.5mg and added the melatonin. I had to adjust how much to use and am still in that process. I was on 2.5mg Ambien for about 2 weeks. Just stopped it a week ago.

    That has been the hardest. I do feel tired from the lack of sleep at night. And I would suggest a longer taper if anyone is going to try that. I am hanging in there, hopeful that in a few weeks it will be much better. I was having memory issues and “zoning out” from the Ambien, and even though I am tired now from lack of adequate sleep, I am much more mentally focused. Thanks for all your posts. Great information and support.

    • Oscar March 18, 2016, 3:11 am

      The 12.5mg are controlled release. The outer shell is designed to dissolve slowly in your system. Do not cut those. Get an Rx for the regular 10mg or 5mg if you plan to cut them.

  • Rita April 24, 2015, 8:41 am

    I am now on 21 days without ambien. I take melatonin to help me sleep but wake up by 4am. No more than 5 hours at most. I also have joint pain but no other withdrawal symptoms. After 11 years I am glad to be kicking the dependence on this drug.

  • Alta April 12, 2015, 11:14 pm

    I’ve been taking generic Ambien for 6 yrs and love it. I take the short acting kind, and since I ran out one week ago, I’m so sleepy during the day, it’s pathetic. I also have more pain than usual. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome 25 years ago, and if I take my zolpidem every night I don’t get so exhausted during the day. Maybe it helps me get into the deep stages of sleep, which I did not do before I started taking it.

    • margo April 19, 2015, 7:05 pm

      Your circumstances are like mine. I’ve been on ambien for years, I don’t know how many, but it has been a long time. I’ve been on 5mg. I liked this drug, especially the first year(s) – I slept easily and woke up refreshed. I am now over 65 and the doctor wants me off of it. In fact, the FDA contacted him to tell him to get me off of it! They keep records at that level! Last night I took one half of a pill.

      I didn’t sleep until 4 am and woke up 6:30. It is now noon and I’ve been unable to nap. I’m tired. I hope my short term memory problems decrease. I’ve always been an excellent speller and I really have a tough time trying to remember how to spell certain words. I try sounding them out to no avail. I forget where I put the scissors when I just put them down from using them. I spend a lot of time looking for things.

      I kept bad sleep habits while on ambien – staying up on the computer very late etc. but I sure liked taking the pill when I was ready to sleep and certainly while traveling. It’s time, though, to say good bye to ambien. This is day 1 of half-dose. I have a prescription for 15 pills a month for three months. My pills are to be cut in half so I’m taking 2 & 1/2 mg per night. I think I can cut down sooner, but not too soon.

      • jennifer December 29, 2015, 6:28 am

        Hey everyone. I’m so glad this site is here. I was prescribed Ambien 10 mg and took it for 10 years. Then I’d wake up in the middle of the night and take another half. This went on for about 2 years. About one year ago I found a source for Ambien 12.5. So I started taking it every night. Of course I took another half pill of 10 (I have 2 prescriptions. One is 12.5 and the other (I pay out-of-pocket for) is 10.

        So for about one year I’ve been taking the 12.5 dose plus 5 then waking up in the middle of the night and taking the other 5 and this was my doctor’s idea! I tried last summer to quit cold turkey. It was horrible. I couldn’t sleep for 3 nights and started shaking uncontrollably plus crying non stop. The doctor who originally gave them to me said they have some antidepressants included in their mix. I really appreciate your ideas about tapering off.

        Tonight I’ll try 17.5 mgs, for one week. Then for week 2 I’ll try 15 mgs then 12 then 10. Then maybe I’ll go cold turkey. Also someone mentioned melatonin. Thank you all so much for the ideas. And please wish me good luck on this journey. Just hearing that my reaction to withdrawal was normal has already helped. Thank you all.

        • Pam January 3, 2017, 2:30 am

          How are people getting prescriptions for more than 10 mg a day? I have seen several say they pay out of pocket for the extra but you still have to have a Rx?

  • Sally April 10, 2015, 4:24 pm

    I took it for 11 years… Found out about a week ago that I was doing stuff in my sleep that I couldn’t remember do decided to stop. I was only taking 2.5-5 mgs so stopped cold turkey when I had a week off from work. Haven’t been sleeping great but Melatonin has helped. Was glad to read the lethargy and depression I have been feeling is probably withdrawal and not the melatonin which is what I thought. The thing that helps my natural sleep the most is good hard workout in the morning.

    • Rita April 12, 2015, 4:17 am

      I have been off for 6 nights now. No real withdrawal symptoms except only 3-4 hours sleep. Also stopped cold turkey. Heard I was talking in my sleep. I am taking melatonin. With a glass of warm milk or chamomile tea. Good luck Sally and everyone…we can beat this!!

  • Lynda April 6, 2015, 2:20 am

    I am looking for advice on cold-turkeying Ambien. I have been taking it for 13 years. Started on 5 mg, then after four years went to 10 mg. This is my third night of just stopping it. So far nothing major. But I’m scared. Don’t know what can happen to me after having this drug in my system for so long.

    • Rita April 9, 2015, 10:07 am

      I have been on Ambien for 11 years. I take only 5 mg and am on 3rd night cold turkey. Maybe we can compare withdrawal symptoms so it is not so scary. So far I seem to be OK except for waking up after 3/4 hours of sleep. But it has only been 3 nights. I am going to win this as I am tired of being dependent on this drug. Good luck. -Lynda.

      • Sally April 10, 2015, 4:28 pm

        Good luck to you. I think we are having a similar experience… 11 yrs on ambien. Stopped about a week ago. Having depression, lethargy, muscle aches but nothing too bad. I took a week off from work which has helped. As well as lots of exercise. However that has been a struggle because I just don’t feel like it. Good to know if I stick with it it may only be for a few weeks. Best wishes!

      • Mary April 12, 2015, 9:03 pm

        I was on ambien [zolpidem] now for 14 years. I have tried to quit a couple of times but would go back to it.This time I decided to do it. I have cut my 5mg pill in half and will do this for a while. But I woke up a lot last night and feel very lethargic today. I don’t understand why my doctor doesn’t think it’s harmful. I worry about memory because I am approaching 80 next year. God help us all!

      • Dianne February 1, 2016, 4:10 pm

        Rita, How are you now? I am on 10mg per night… only been on for 4 months but have developed myalgia and other problems… a month into starting it the myalgia started and then abdominal pains and other problems. Already I knew it was strange that these things came on too fast and had to be attached to the Ambien. My doctor kept saying no. Well 4 specialists later and every test known to man to find other causes there is no answer…

        This morning I woke up and resolved on my own to figure it out and sure enough down on the list above the RARE category are the side effects of myalgia, back and abdominal pain, rash (just had some rash develop on my left buttock). SO I want off…thinking I will have to wean? Afraid of cold turkey after only 4 months because the side effects came on within a month of taking the meds and am afraid my body is sensitive to it?

        Maybe go to 5 mg for a week and then 1/4 or nothing… plan to start yoga and to take melatonin. Can’t live like this and the MONEY I have spent trying to figure out what is probably just the side effects makes me furious…was better without the sleep!! Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks, Dianne

      • Heather December 13, 2016, 5:36 am

        I’ve been on Ambien for 7 years. I just recently had my wisdom teeth pulled and so they told me I shouldn’t take it the night of my surgery. So I thought well I am going to just quit taking it. Tonight will be my fifth night of not taking it. I haven’t noticed any withdrawals other than being sleepy. I will let you know how it goes. :)

    • Shari January 29, 2016, 3:19 pm

      Hi, I started 5 days ago, cold turkey. Been taking it for ten years since I had breast cancer. So far, only little headache, and very tired. Sleeping more, turning off all electronics. I hope this is it!!!

  • notmy realname March 20, 2015, 12:40 pm

    I have been on Ambien for 11 years. I took it as prescribed (10mg a night) for about 7 years. At the seven year mark I was going through some extremely difficult times and my depression was unbearable. Suicide was floating through my mind a lot. Then I thought that if Ambien helped me relax at night then a small piece of the tablet might help me in the most stressful times of the day. It worked enough. Fast forward to now – 11 years later.

    I have been taking ten 10mg tablets a day. Yes, 100mg! I’m sick of it. I’ve had enough. I want OFF! I sought help with a local doctor and he didn’t think I’d suffer withdrawals if I just stopped taking it and took seroquel, zoloft, cymbalta and vistaril – this was after telling him several times that I take 100mg a day. At the end of the appointment I asked him that if he was sure that the prescribed medications would help me with withdrawals and he said that since I only take 10 mg per day I should be OK.

    What?! I told him several times that I took ten 10mg tablets. Before leaving his office and after not having Ambien for about 5 hours I was in very uncomfortable withdrawals. I decided to taper off myself. I hope it works. This week I went from 10 per day to 8 per day. And I’m feeling weird. Oddly enough I’m fatigued a lot but not a good kind that would lead to sleep. The first day I almost passed out in a store. Depression is worse but not impossible.

    Diarrhea and cramps (gatorade helps) and my chest feels like it’s going to explode at times. I think that my only hope is to pray for God’s help and taper off. I don’t really have any faith in the docs any more. Hopefully this is the right solution. Good luck everyone – I understand how hard this is and from this point on I will include in my prayers everyone who struggles with Ambien – you included.

    • Nic October 11, 2015, 2:29 pm

      Did you ever get off? I am taking a similar dose and run out after 6 days.

  • Debbie McCracken March 15, 2015, 7:58 pm

    I have been taking 10mg of ambien for 15 yrs. I’ve been hearing bad things about it so I went off it a few days ago cold turkey. I’m starting to rethink this process because I have been experiencing uncontrollable shaking, nausea, a mood thing (don’t know what else to call it) where music (which I love) and TV (which I love more) sounds like noise that causes bad feelings… like I have to shut it off or I’m going to lose my mind. If I start a sentence (verbally or written) I forget what I was going to say. Grrr!!!

  • Maria March 13, 2015, 1:48 pm

    I havee been on Ambien 10mg for 8 years. Now I am trying to taper off. I cut my Rx in half and supplementing with 3 mg of melatonin. I’m very concerned with some people’s comments regarding the withdrawal. So far, I’m experiencing frequent awakening. I’m planning to up the melatonin to 6mg. Hope it helps. My doctor could care less if I take it or not and he is of no help. I recently tapered off 8 years of Celexa all alone .

    • Bridgette October 1, 2015, 3:30 am

      Melatonin never worked for me until my mom recommended 10 mg. It works like a charm! I still wake up some, but eventually go back to sleep. I have been taking Ambien for years, but when I tapered down to a 1/4, the melatonin helps. I hope to stop with Ambien once and for all soon. L-theanine works to relax me, as well, (it’s soothing when you get anxious about it taking too long to fall asleep).

      • Lisa May 5, 2016, 3:10 am

        I started taking Zolpediem at 5 mg then 10 and then 6.5 CR. It finally all stopped working and I started combining Aleve PM with it and that worked for a short while. When I ran out of the 6.5 mg CR I just didn’t refill it. I upped the Aleve PM to 2 per night and did ok for about 2 weeks. Now I’m back to not sleeping but maybe 3 hours total.

        So I decided to just switch to Melatonin. Does anyone know how much is too much? I am taking 10 mg and get sleepy but then pop right back up awake. I’m not going back on the Ambien just to wean off again. I have terrible night sweats when I do go to sleep. I wake up with chills. I figure it will pass eventually. If I could sleep, my health would be so much better.

  • Steve January 21, 2015, 7:23 pm

    I’ve been taking ambien on and off for past 5 or 6 years. I will start off using it while on vacation because I have trouble sleeping in other beds. The problem becomes after taking it 3 nights in a row your body becomes used to it and if you don’t take it you won’t sleep. There’s a couple ways to get off ambien. If you have nothing to do the next day and have no kids, just prepare for staying up all night.

    Have a good attitude, lots of movies to watch and just stick it out. The second night you will be so tired you will fall asleep and the ambien out of your system. The other way which is the way I prefer is like this article says and ween off slowly. Assuming you take a whole pill. Start by taking 3/4 of a pill for a week, then 1/2 pill for a week, 1/4 pill for a week.

    Once your at a 1/4 pill you might have anxiety about trying it without but at that point your not taking much anyway. Stay up late if you have to you will get tired. Don’t go to bed until your a little tired. I wouldn’t say I have a serious insomnia problem so this advice is for people in the same situation as me who need it occasionally but get stuck after using it for a few days. Good luck!

  • Patty December 24, 2014, 1:14 pm

    Anyone know how long it could possibly take to get back to normal sleep pattern? I have been struggling for over 3 months, not taking any other meds because of my high sensitivity to drugs. Over the counter does not seem to work well at all. My anxiety level has increased because of lack of sleep.

    • Judy August 17, 2015, 7:29 pm

      I took Ambien for years, but decided that it’s probably not good to have to take something every night. It has helped me to focus on my breathing and slow it down. A sleep hypnosis tape helps me relax and breathe and I find I never get to the end of it, being asleep already.

      • JOSIE November 9, 2015, 2:48 am

        Is there an easy way to wean off 5mg of zolpidem? I’ve been taking it for 7 years and am terrified of the withdrawals but would like to stop taking altogether.

        • Karen P February 13, 2016, 5:23 pm

          Hi Josie: I reduced the dose by 1/4 for every 10 days. Went from 5 mg to about 3.5 mg to 2.5 mg to 12.5 mg just by splitting the pill every 7-10 days. Still have a little weird dreams, but it is getting better.

          • Alexandra June 16, 2016, 1:47 pm

            I’m curious; how did you do with the ambien withdrawal? Last night was my first without ambien 10mg. Instead I tried an OTC herbal sleep med. I am extremely tired at the moment as I had a horrible night.

  • Sue December 13, 2014, 5:55 am

    I have been taking ambien for 2 2 1/2 years, I think. Key words, I think, I cant remember very well. I started at 5mgs and wanted 60 a month so I wouldn’t be committed to taking 10 unless I needed it. My doc upped me 10 so that’s what I have been taking. I love how I get to sleep, but I always wake up. I am able to fall right back asleep though. I know this drug is affecting my memory and comprehension at work, but im terrified I will stay up all night n be sleepy at work. I think im going to try to tapper down 1/4mg every two weeks. My goal is to get down 5mg then taper from that. Its time to win back my mind.

  • Marcia December 7, 2014, 2:50 pm

    After being switched from 12.5 to 6 after over 10 years on Ambien and Ambien CR, I find that I am unable to sleep for more than a few hours a night; therefore, I’d like to wean myself off the drug. Trazadone was prescribed years ago and I had severe heart palpitations so it’s probably not an option during the weaning off period. Does anyone have suggestions to make this easier. I am 63 and have a job that requires me to travel for business several times a month so sleeplessness complicates travel.

  • Sean November 29, 2014, 4:27 pm

    I was on ambien for 11 years, my new doctor made me quit cold turkey but replaced it with trazadone, as he said it’s much easier to get off trazadone than ambien. Right after I switched to trazadone it took a few nights of sleeplessness before it started to help me sleep, then after about a month I was easily able to get off of trazadone.

  • Patty November 17, 2014, 10:28 pm

    I was on ambien (about .4 mg nightly) for 4-1/2 months. It made me sick to my stomach, lost my appetite and had severe GI problems. I did not realize that I was allergic to it until I got off of it and the symptoms subsided. Because of my anxiety about my undiagnosed stomach issues, the doc prescribed xanax to ease my anxiety. That drug nearly ended me up in the nuthouse even though I was only only on it 2 weeks. It gave me severer panic attacks and other horrible symptoms.

    I stopped both cold turkey a couple months ago and the tension in my body has subsided pretty much. The big problem that remains now is insomnia and I also have blurred vision. I average about 2-1/2- 3 hrs/night with the help of something like melatonin, calm forte. Does anyone know how long the sleepless nights can last? I am growing weary and do not know what to do as I don’t want to take any more prescribed meds.

    • Lesa Phillips January 7, 2015, 4:26 am

      Hi, I just stopped taking ambien 3 nights ago, after being on it for about 10 years. I replaced it with melatonin, it’s been helping, not great full night sleeps but more sleep than I anticipated after being so dependent on ambien. Good luck:)

      • chris January 7, 2016, 2:36 am

        Lesa, did you just stop talking ambien cold turkey? I’ve been taking 1/2 – 1 (10 mg) nightly for about 4 years and really want to stop. I’m going to make up a weekly tapering schedule and also have melatonin to help. I hear all these horror stories about seizures, etc. and having to go to rehab while you detox… I’m hoping I’m not that case.

        • Karen P February 13, 2016, 5:19 pm

          I was on 5 mg for about 7 years and have been tapering for about 5 weeks now. I started out breaking that pill into a 3/4 dose (using a pill cutter for about a week, then a half pill for 10 days. then a 1/3 tablet for a week and am not at 1/4 of a pill. Next week will be 1/8 of a pill for a week. Still having weird dreams and waking up all night long, but going back to sleep fairly quick.

          Hopefully in one more week I will be ambien free. It will be about a 6 week process for me. I have been taking Xanax (half a pill) with this whole process that I have been on for years too. That is the next to go!

          • Jeanie March 14, 2016, 7:35 pm

            Hello. I am curious as to how you are doing? I have been taking Ambien .5 for over 5 years. Brand only. Very expensive so I too started tapering off 8 days ago. I cut my 10 which is what I always did in half to make a 5. So for tapering I cut the .10 in thirds so approximately a 3.3 est. for last 9 nights.

            Last week I really thought I did pretty good. However for some reason yesterday and today I really feel awful. Very tired but feel dizzy and head just feels off. Just wondering if it could be a coincidence or from the Ambien. Hope to hear back from you. Jeanie

    • Sheila Chmiel November 20, 2015, 11:50 am

      I got off Ambien approx 3 weeks ago. I sleep for an hour or so. Wake up like I have been asleep for hours. I have only slept at most 4 hours at a time. I feel terrible all over when I wake. Overall discomfort. Good thing I’m retired. I sleep at odd times so far. I have taken Ambien for 27 years. I’m hot then cold a lot. Very uncomfortable. My hope is that in time the symptoms will subside.

      • Margaret March 15, 2016, 10:48 am

        Shiela, that is what concerns me, the fact that I work every day at 6 am. I took mg each night for several years until it became less effective. 3-4 months ago, I began taking 10 gm. I suppose we can all say that we sleep like a rock when we take these but it is starting to really worry me. I am almost 53, completely dependent on Ambien and Effexor. I battle depression and “dark times” pretty severely. Menopause only made this worse. I plan to start tapering back to 5 gm and then 2.5, and so forth. Wish me luck.

  • Get off it October 26, 2014, 2:43 pm

    I’m in the process of a taper from 5mg. I took 10mg for several years & then I changed over to 5mg. I started my taper a few weeks ago with cutting the pills in half & taking 3/4 of a pill for two weeks then I went to 1/2 a pill that is what I’m currently on for two weeks then I will move to a 1/4 of the pill for the next two weeks. I have been having some withdrawals, but I tapered myself off Effexor & believe me those withdrawals were much worse and I was on a 75mg dosage.

    They should band Effexor from the market the withdrawals are to extreme. With coming off Ambien I have had most of the common withdrawals like muscle aches, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, nausea. I take Advil which helps with the headaches & muscle aches. I got cortisol manager pills from my chiropractor that is not habit forming they are over the counter in a nutrition store. I took one a night until I got to 1/2 a pill then I upped it to 2 a night. I will stay on 2 a night until I’m off the Ambien.

    Then I plan to take a restart you sleep pattern that I can get from the chiropractor that is all natural to get my sleep cycle right after going weeks with mild insomnia. If I kicked Effexor butt then I can Ambien as well.

    • Laura Scholes July 1, 2016, 6:55 pm

      HOW did you kick effexor? I’ve tried it several times. Gotten down to 37.5 pretty easily several times but going to 0 is always so painful I start it again.

  • stephanie August 29, 2014, 7:55 pm

    I have been taking 5 mg Ambien for about a month consistently. I stopped 2 nights ago and have been having headaches, nonstop dizziness and light headedness, fatigue, and sleeplessness. It is terrible I will never take it again.

    • Harry September 12, 2016, 3:57 pm

      Hi Stephanie, your withdrawal symptoms sound almost identical to mine. I had taken low doses but eventually worked up to 5 mg. Stopped 4 nights ago and am slowly losing the concerns you mentioned. As with you, never go back again. Hope you will improve soon.

  • J.d. Chaney August 3, 2014, 5:07 pm

    Been on ambien for 10 years and am n the verge of weaning off the damn stuff. My options are to either drop from 10 mg to 5 or 6 mg nightly or doing 10 mg. every other day. Incidentally, dong this without medical advice. After reading your comments I’m a bit nervous about doing this. I’m a 66 year- old male. Hope you’re improving daily.

    • Cate Parker November 20, 2014, 6:24 pm

      I am going to start tapering tonight. After five years, 10 mg stopped working and when I tried CR 12.5, it made me sick, headache and nausea. How are you doing? I plan on tapering in a week or two.

      • Carolyn August 9, 2015, 8:00 pm

        I have been taking zolpidem for 12 years. Tonight is the first night of my journey off these horrible pills! I will limit myself to 5mg no matter what happens. I hope to be free by the end of week. Haha what a goal.

        • John October 27, 2015, 1:13 pm

          How are you doing Carolyn? I have been on 10mg of zolpidem tartrate for about 5 years. This past year or two I’ve resorted to cutting them in half, talking half to go to sleep, and then taking another half when I wake up in the middle of the night to go back to sleep. I’m ready to get off this stuff and am just starting to taper. It’s going to be a rough couple of weeks or months, but I’m committed to finding another way to live than this.

          • Shirley February 18, 2016, 5:19 pm

            I am completely in the same boat as you. After my Dr. informed me today that you will need to take them the rest of your life – I thought no way, need to get off. Also thanks for telling me this now Dr!! Should have never started them!! Good luck and I’m committed to getting off!!

          • Hans June 5, 2016, 10:09 pm

            Hi John. I’m in a similar boat as you taking this about 5 years now and cutting them in half to taper off. Last month I stopped altogether and had basic insomnia withdrawals. Now however I’ve been experiencing what I would call small and frequent episodes or mini seizures when I get into a REM state.

            I wake suddenly, am flushed, warm and heart races, then it calms quickly I fall back asleep and it starts again and again all night. Please tell me if you had any withdrawal issues and length of time you’ve experienced them…

        • Leanne October 2, 2016, 4:22 pm

          How did that work for you? I’m not seeing how you can just taper for 1 week and be done. How are you doing?

          • Moose October 8, 2016, 12:20 am

            I have been on Ambien for at least 4 years now and have stopped a few times but the problems that got me on Ambien continue so I go back. The routine I use to get off Ambien works for me so what I am about to say does not work for everyone. Also, ALWAYS talk to your doctor about detoxing and the best way to go about the process. If your doctor is not knowledgeable on the topic, find one.

            As consumers, we all make the mistake of assuming every doctor is as qualified as the next, this is simply not true. I find that pain management doctors have the most experience with handling down dosing detox. With that said, I am fortunate enough to live in state that legalized marijuana. Once I am down to about at 5 mg a night, I take a high CBD, low THC tincture which makes me drowsy and keeps the Ambien detox vivid dreams to a minimum.

            I will also take a Benadryl the first couple of nights, too. The Benadryl helps keep me drowsy until the early morning hours. I will start off with about 4 hours of restless sleep but at least I am getting some sleep. After about a week or two, I no longer have the major symptoms of Ambien detox.

            Everyone is different so your detox can last longer than mine. The big issue is safety first, detoxing incorrectly can be very dangerous. My process allows me to get some sleep which is why I like it but I realize not everyone has access to tinctures. Good luck to all going this path.

        • Tara Tew February 1, 2018, 4:54 pm

          Just read your comment about coming off ambien after 12 years. How are you doing and did you have success??

  • cindys July 26, 2014, 7:35 pm

    I went cold turkey 4 months ago, from 10 mg ambien use after 2 years. I am suffering from severe physical WDs( neuropathic pain, numbness, vibrations, tinitus, back pain) and mental WDs ( anxiety, panic and uncontrollable crying). Very similiar WDs as benzos. Please do not cold turkey, taper off this drug. It is been horrific this expereince, and I have no medical support, my doctors do not recognize ambien WDs. Believe me, I never took any drug but ambien. This is a nightmare for me.

    • Patty December 9, 2014, 9:00 am

      How are you doing now a few months later? Have you found anything else to help you sleep that is not prescribed? It has also been a nightmare for me since I went off cold turkey and you are right that the docs will not acknowledge there are horrible side effects from this drug.

      • cindy February 4, 2015, 3:37 am

        Patty, I saw you wanted an update from me. I am an extreme case of having horrific withdrawals from ambien. I went off ambien 10 months ago cold turkey. I continue to suffer physical WDs: heart palps, neuropathic burning pain, back pain, tinnitus, insomnia, night sweats and psychological: anxiety, panic depression. All symptoms are very slowly and gradually lessening, but I am unable to work, and can only sleep 2-3 hours a night.

        Ambien WDs are the same as benzos WDs… it affects the gaba receptors. Some have no problems getting off, some like me are the unlucky ones. I belong to a good on line support group for WDs which recognizes the WDs of ambien. I hope you are doing well, My timeline on healing is 6-18 months based upon Ashton Manual research.

        • Darlene June 27, 2015, 5:17 pm

          I quit 25 days ago after having spent hours in our local ER with amnesia. I had been taking the drug for about nine months cutting them in half two months before my episode. My withdrawal symptoms have been headaches, extreme night sweats, tinnitus, and horrible lower back/pelvic/hip pain! I have been taking L-Theanine as a sleep aid which is working.

          • Tasha June 30, 2015, 4:11 pm

            I am in the process of stopping. I did not take my pill Friday and I did not sleep all night so the next morning about 9am I took a half but I really want to get off so that I can see if I can sleep on my own and have another child 1 day. How are you feeling now and what is L-theanine?

        • Leanne September 1, 2016, 9:35 pm

          I’ve been on ambien off and on for over 5 years. I’ve gone to taking benadryl to back to ambien so many times. It’s time that I stop this. What are the support groups that you mentioned?

        • Leanne September 4, 2016, 7:47 pm

          Hello. I’ve become addicted to ambien… off and on use for over 5 years. I never knew about withdrawal. I’d stop taking it and start taking benadryl… then I built up a tolerance to that and came back to ambien… now I’ve built up a tolerance to ambien. I’ll take 5mg at bedtime and the other 5 mg when I wake up during the night. I do not get more than 4 hours of sleep at a stretch with a total of maybe 6 hours a night. I want off. Would you please share the online WD support group that you found for ambien?

    • Suzanne August 11, 2016, 2:33 am

      Hi Cindy. So sorry to read your story. I did not realize ambien could be so harmful! Hope you will feel better soon. Ive been taking 10mg zolpidem tartrate for a few years now. Always had problems sleeping. So did my mom. Now in my 50’s, I had to do something. Went to a sleep Dr and he put me on it. The only side effects Ive had have been weight gain.

      Seems I want to eat everything shortly after taking my nightly dose. I tried going off cold turkey, and recently could barely walk. I have a chronic condition called vasovagal syncope since childhood in which blood pools in my legs, blood pressure drops and I either faint if not attended to during initial symptoms, or in my teens, ended up with seizures.They diagnosed me with it not until my 40’s. Horrible!

      I take 20 mg of generic lexapro to counteract it. Well going off the ambien messed with this condition and I felt shaky, dizzy, and blood pooling in legs. My cardiologist upped my lexapro which helps the condition. I also have to wear compression stockings every day. Just lovely. She told me to ask the sleep Dr. how I should wean off the ambien.

      After reading your story, amongst the others, I am frightened about this. I’m going to call my Dr tomorrow to seek his advice. Apparently, this is a bad drug. I wish I never tried it! Hang in there. I really wish you the best! Suzanne

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