What is zolpidem?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Zolpidem comes in several forms. This includes regular and extended-release pills that are swallowed (Ambien, Ambien-CR), pills that dissolve under the tongue (Edluar, Intermezzo), and a nasal spray (ZolpiMist). All are FDA-approved for treating insomnia that involves trouble falling asleep. The extended-release pills are also approved for insomnia that involves trouble staying asleep. Intermezzo is for trouble returning to sleep after waking in the middle of the night.

Zolpidem, eszopiclone, and zaleplon all work in a similar but more focused way than benzodiazepines, and are less likely to cause side effects. They are also less likely to lose effectiveness when taken for many nights in a row and less likely to be habit-forming. But these problems are still concerns. They can also make insomnia worse when a person abruptly stops taking them, a condition called rebound insomnia. These drugs should be taken for as little time as possible. 

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