Zolpidem | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

zolpidem, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Ambien
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for zolpidem

Oral tablet
1

Zolpidem is used to help you fall asleep or stay asleep. It’s used to treat insomnia.

2

This drug comes in several forms: an immediate-release tablet (tablet that releases the drug into your body right away), an extended-release tablet (tablet that releases the drug into your body slowly), a sublingual tablet (tablet that dissolves under your tongue), and a spray. You take these forms by mouth.

3

Zolpidem is available as the brand-name drugs Ambien (immediate-release tablets), Ambien CR (extended-release tablets), Edluar (sublingual tablets), Intermezzo (sublingual tablets), and Zolpimist (oral spray). The immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, and some of the sublingual tablets are also available as generic drugs.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Decreased awareness and reaction time

If you take this drug and don’t get a full night’s sleep, you may have decreased awareness and slower reaction times the next day. This may cause trouble driving. You shouldn’t drive or do other activities that require alertness if you take this drug and don’t get a full night’s sleep. If you’re taking Intermezzo, you shouldn’t drive or do activities that require alertness without getting at least 4 more hours of sleep after taking it.

Abnormal behaviors

This drug may cause changes in behavior, such as increased agitation. You may act differently. You may act more outgoing, have hallucinations (see or hear things that aren’t real), or feel like you’re watching yourself from outside of your body. You also may sleep-drive or do other activities in your sleep that you can’t remember later. Tell your doctor if any of this happens to you.

Withdrawal effects

Don’t stop taking this drug without talking to your doctor. If you’ve been taking this medication for a while and stop taking it suddenly, you may have withdrawal. Symptoms can include muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, flushing (reddening and warming of your skin), and emotional changes. These can include feelings of nervousness, panic attacks, and uncontrollable crying.

What is zolpidem?

Zolpidem is a prescription drug. It’s available as an immediate-release oral tablet (a tablet that releases the drug into your body right away), an extended-release oral tablet (a tablet that releases the drug into your body slowly), a sublingual tablet (a tablet that dissolves under your tongue), and an oral spray.

Zolpidem is available as the following brand-name drugs:

  • Ambien (immediate-release tablets)
  • Ambien CR (extended-release tablets)
  • Edluar (sublingual tablets)
  • Intermezzo (sublingual tablets)
  • Zolpimist (oral spray)

The immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, and some of the sublingual tablets are available as generic drugs. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name versions.

Why it's used

Zolpidem is used to treat insomnia. Insomnia causes trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

The immediate-release tablets, oral spray, and Edluar sublingual tablets are used if you have trouble falling asleep. The extended-release tablets are used if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The low-dose (1.75-mg and 3.5-mg) sublingual tablets are used when you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep.

How it works

Zolpidem belongs to a class of drugs called sedatives. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Zolpidem increases the activity of GABA. GABA is a chemical in your body that causes sleepiness. Increasing its activity helps you fall asleep.

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zolpidem Side Effects

Oral tablet

More common side effects

The more common side effects of zolpidem can include:

  • headache

  • drowziness

  • dizziness

  • diarrhea

  • dry mouth

  • chest pain

  • palpitations (fast, strong, or irregular heart rate, or feeling like your heart is skipping a beat)

  • grogginess

  • lightheadedness

  • muscle pain

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Allergic reactions. Symptoms can include:

    • swelling of your tongue or face
    • trouble breathing
  • New or worse symptoms of depression. Symptoms can include:

    • thoughts of suicide or of harming yourself
    • loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
    • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
    • lack of energy
    • trouble thinking or concentrating
    • weight loss or weight gain
  • Abnormal thoughts or behaviors. Symptoms can include:

    • agitation
    • being more outgoing than normal
    • thinking things aren’t real or that you’re watching yourself from outside of your body
    • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Doing activities while you’re asleep and having no memory of the event. These can include:

    • driving
    • preparing and eating food
    • talking on the phone
    • having sex
  • Trouble breathing. Symptoms can include:

    • slowed breathing
    • shallow breathing
    • tiredness
    • decreased oxygen in your blood
  • Amnesia (memory loss)

  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing something that isn’t there)

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Zolpidem may cause drowsiness and dizziness. These effects may be more likely to happen during the first few hours after you take the drug. This drug may also cause drowsiness, dizziness, and diarrhea. These effects may be more likely to occur when you first start taking the drug and during dosage changes.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

zolpidem May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Zolpidem can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Food interactions

Eating food with zolpidem may make the drug take longer to work. You should take this drug on an empty stomach.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of sedation and drowsiness from zolpidem. You shouldn’t take this drug on nights when you drink alcohol.

If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor. You may need to be monitored more closely for side effects.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects

Increased side effects from both drugs: Taking zolpidem with certain medications raises your risk of side effects. This is because zolpidem and these other medications can cause the same side effects. As a result, these side effects can be increased. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Drugs that decrease your alertness such as imipramine, chlorpromazine, and paroxetine
    • If you take any of these medications with zolpidem, you may have more sedation and drowsiness.

Increased side effects from zolpidem: Taking zolpidem with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from zolpidem. This is because the amount of zolpidem in your body may be increased. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Antibiotics such as clarithromycin and erythromycin
  • Drugs used to treat fungal infections, such as ketoconazole, itraconazole, and voriconazole
  • Ritonavir, norvir, and atazanavir

Interactions that can make your drugs less effective

When zolpidem is less effective: When zolpidem is used with certain drugs, it may not work as well to treat your condition. This is because the amount of zolpidem in your body may be decreased. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Antibiotics such as rifampin, rifabutin, and rifapentine
  • Anticonvulsant drugs such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, and phenytoin
  • St. John’s wort

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
depression warning
People with depression

This drug may make your symptoms of depression worse. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

lung problem warning
People with lung or breathing problems

This drug may slow your breathing or make it shallow. This can decrease the amount of oxygen in your blood. If you have trouble breathing, you may already have lower oxygen levels. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

myasthenia gravis warning
People with myasthenia gravis

This drug may slow your breathing or make it shallow. This can decrease the amount of oxygen in your blood. If you have myasthenia gravis, you may already have lower oxygen levels. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

sleep apnea warning
People with sleep apnea

This drug may slow your breathing or make it shallow. This can decrease the amount of oxygen in your blood. If you have sleep apnea, you may already have lower oxygen levels. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

 liver disease warning
People with liver disease

If you have liver problems or a history of liver disease, you may not be able to process this drug well. This may increase the levels of the drug in your body and cause more side effects.

pregnancy warning
Pregnant women

Zolpidem is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the pregnancy.

breast feeding warning
Women who are breast-feeding

Zolpidem may pass into breast milk and cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.

Talk to your doctor about breastfeeding your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

senior warning
For seniors

The liver of an older adult may not work as well as it used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects, such as sedation and decreased alertness. You may also be more sensitive to these effects.

If you’re over the age of 65 years, your doctor may give you a lower dosage of this drug.

childrens warning
For children

This drug hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergy warning
Allergies

Zolpidem can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take zolpidem (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Insomnia with trouble falling asleep

Generic: Zolpidem

Form: immediate-release oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Form: extended-release oral tablet
Strengths: 6.25 mg, 12.5 mg
Form: sublingual tablet
Strengths: 1.75 mg, 3.5 mg

Brand: Ambien

Form: immediate-release oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Ambien CR

Form: extended-release oral tablet
Strengths: 6.25 mg, 12.5 mg

Brand: Edluar

Form: sublingual tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Intermezzo

Form: sublingual tablet
Strengths: 1.75 mg, 3.5 mg

Brand: Zolpimist

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg per spray/div>
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Ambien, Zolpimist, Edluar, and generic immediate-release oral tablets:

  • Starting dosage: 5 mg for women and 5 mg or 10 mg for men, taken right before bedtime. You should only take a dose if you have at least 7–8 hours before you need to wake up.
  • Dosage increases: Your doctor may increase your dosage to 10 mg per day.
  • Maximum dosage: 10 mg once per day taken right before bedtime
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The liver of an older adult may not work as well as it used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dosage or a different treatment schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Ambien, Zolpimist, Edluar, and generic immediate-release oral tablets: 5 mg once per day taken right before bedtime

Special considerations

People with liver disease:
Ambien, Zolpimist, Edluar, and generic immediate-release oral tablets: 5 mg once per day taken right before bedtime

Trouble falling or staying asleep

Generic: Zolpidem

Form: immediate-release oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Form: extended-release oral tablet
Strengths: 6.25 mg, 12.5 mg
Form: sublingual tablet
Strengths: 1.75 mg, 3.5 mg

Brand: Ambien

Form: immediate-release oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Ambien CR

Form: extended-release oral tablet
Strengths: 6.25 mg, 12.5 mg

Brand: Edluar

Form: sublingual tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Intermezzo

Form: sublingual tablet
Strengths: 1.75 mg, 3.5 mg

Brand: Zolpimist

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg per spray/div>
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Ambien CR and generic extended-release oral tablets only:

  • Starting dosage: 6.25 mg for women and 6.25 mg or 12.5 mg for men, taken right before bedtime. Take it only when you have at least 7–8 hours before you need to wake up.
  • Maximum dosage: 12.5 mg once per day taken right before bedtime
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The liver of an older adult may not work as well as it used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dosage or a different treatment schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Ambien CR and generic extended-release oral tablets only: 6.25 mg once per day taken right before bedtime

Special considerations

People with liver disease:
Ambien CR and generic extended-release oral tablets only: 6.25 mg once per day taken right before bedtime

Trouble falling asleep after waking

Generic: Zolpidem

Form: immediate-release oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Form: extended-release oral tablet
Strengths: 6.25 mg, 12.5 mg
Form: sublingual tablet
Strengths: 1.75 mg, 3.5 mg

Brand: Ambien

Form: immediate-release oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Ambien CR

Form: extended-release oral tablet
Strengths: 6.25 mg, 12.5 mg

Brand: Edluar

Form: sublingual tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg

Brand: Intermezzo

Form: sublingual tablet
Strengths: 1.75 mg, 3.5 mg

Brand: Zolpimist

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg per spray/div>
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Intermezzo and generic low-dose sublingual tablets:

  • Starting dosage: 1.75 mg for women and 3.5 mg for men, taken once per night as needed. Take this drug only when you have trouble falling back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night. Also, take this drug only when you have at least 4 hours before you need to wake up.
  • Dosage increases: If you’re a man and were started on the 1.75-mg dosage, your doctor may increase your dosage to 3.5 mg per day.
  • Maximum dosage:1.75 mg per day for women and 3.5 mg per day for men
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The liver of an older adult may not work as well as it used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dosage or a different treatment schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Intermezzo only: 1.75 mg taken once per night only as needed. Take it when you have trouble falling back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night. Also, only take this drug when you have at least 4 hours left before you need to wake up.

Special considerations

People with liver disease:
Intermezzo only: 1.75 mg taken once per night as needed. Only take it when you have trouble falling back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night. Also, only take this drug when you have at least 4 hours left before you need to wake up.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Zolpidem comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

If you don’t take this drug, you’ll still have trouble falling or staying asleep. If you’ve been taking this medication for a while and stop taking it suddenly, you may have signs of withdrawal. Symptoms can include muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, flushing (reddening and warming of your skin), and emotional changes. These can include nervousness, panic attacks, or uncontrollable crying. Never stop taking this drug without talking to your doctor.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • extreme drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • coma
  • trouble breathing

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

For immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, Edluar, and the oral spray: Take your dose as soon as you remember, but only if you have 7–8 hours left before you need to wake up.

Don’t take Intermezzo if you have less than 4 hours left before you need to wake up.

How to tell if the drug is working

You should have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep.

Zolpidem is used for short-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug
not with food
You should not take this drug with food. Taking this drug with food may make it take longer to work
timing considerations
Take this drug at night
See Details
some cut or crush
You can cut or crush the immediate-release tablets. Do not cut or crush the extended-release tablets
storage considerations
Store this drug carefully
See Details
medication is refillalbe
A prescription for this medication is refillable
See Details
travel considerations
Travel
See Details
clinical monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks every form of this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead
prior authorization needed
Insurance
See Details

Take this drug at night

Take the immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, Edluar, and oral spray right before bedtime. Only take these forms when you have 7–8 hours to sleep before you need to wake up.

Take Intermezzo when you wake up in the night. Take it only if you have 4 hours of sleep left before you need to wake up.

Store this drug carefully

  • Store the immediate-release tablets (Ambien) and sublingual tablets (Edluar and Intermezzo) at room temperature. Keep them between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Store the extended-release tablets (Ambien CR) between 59°F and 77°F (15°C and 25°C). Keep them away from light.
  • Store the oral spray (Zolpimist) at 77°F (25°C). Keep the container it comes in upright.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues during your treatment. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include:

  • Mental health and behavioral problems. You and your doctor should watch for any changes in your behavior and mood. This drug can cause new mental health and behavior problems. It may also worsen problems you already have.
  • Liver function. Your doctor will monitor your liver function during your treatment with this drug. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may lower your dosage of this drug.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does zolpidem Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for zolpidem

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Publix $6.92
Membership warehouse $6.92
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for zolpidem on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for zolpidem on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on March 14, 2016

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