Lower Dosages of Sleep Aids Are Safer

If you have trouble sleeping, you may be like nearly a third of Americans. When wakeful nights become a routine and your daily activities are negatively impacted, you may have insomnia. Insomnia is more than an uncomfortable inconvenience; it is a disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or both. For some, it is serious enough to lead many people to take prescription medications.

The most commonly prescribed sleep medications contain an active ingredient called zolpidem. Zolpidem is found in generic sleep medications as well as popular brands like Ambien, Ambien CR, Zolpimist, and Edluar, among others.

While insomnia causes many problems, so does zolpidem in its current standard dosages. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has just announced a recommendation that drug companies change the labels on medications containing zolpidem because the dosages are too high. Although the labels already say that there is a side effect of “drowsiness,” the concern is more serious than that.

The FDA has found that at current doses, too much of the active ingredient remains in the bloodstream the morning after a person has taken the medication. This can be potentially dangerous when driving or performing other tasks that require complete alertness. The FDA refers to this risk as “next morning impairment.”

There have also been rare cases reported of people doing various complex tasks while taking zolpidem, and later having no memory of what they have done. The FDA is recommending lowering of the dosages for women and men to as much as half the current dosage levels to avoid “next morning impairment.”