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Zolpidem is a sleep medication. It is intended for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Zolpidem may be particularly useful for people who have trouble falling asleep.
Sleep medications are called sedatives or hypnotics. Zolpidem affects brain chemicals, resulting in sleep. It is somewhat similar in its actions on sleep to the group of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Zolpidem is only intended for short term use (seven-10 days). Although there is some information published about effectiveness with longer use, some side effects may increase with longer use.
The usual dose is 10 mg before bedtime in adults and 5 mg before bedtime in the elderly and in people with liver disease. The onset of effect occurs within about 30 minutes and the effects on sleep last for 6-8 hours.
It is suggested that zolpidem not be discontinued abruptly after regular use (that is daily use for even as short a time as one week). Instead, the drug should be gradually tapered. The tapering is recommended to avoid the possibility of a withdrawal syndrome as well as to avoid the possibility of a rebound worsening of insomnia.
The most common side effects of zolpidem include drowsiness, dizziness, and headache. Drowsiness, of course, is desirable when it occurs at bedtime. Daytime drowsiness that is left over from the night before would be considered a side effect. Other side effects include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and muscle aches. Rarely, amnesia, confusion, falls, and tremor are seen. Falls probably result from the drowsiness or dizziness.
Increased effects of zolpidem (eg. more drowsiness, confusion) may be seen with alcohol consumption and with other drugs known to cause drowsiness.
Author Info: Bob Kirsch, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer, 2002
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