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Old 23 February 2015, 02:19 AM
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Default Anyone on Ambien (Or other sleep aids)?

Since I went through menopause, my sleep cycles have become increasingly erratic. For the past 10 years or so I've been using a variety of OTC sleep aids and supplements, most of which has stopped working. Both of my doctors have suggested Ambien, so I was wondering if any other Snopesters have taken it?

What I'm mostly concerned about is the reports I've seen and read that Ambien can cause sleepwalking. Since I live alone it worries me to think I might walk around inside - or even outside! - my house with no one there to stop me.

If anybody has other suggestions or tips for getting a good night's sleep, I'm all ears. This staying up most of the night is really getting old.

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Old 23 February 2015, 03:17 AM
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Watch out. I didn't sleepwalk (at least not on Ambien--it was later) but I hallucinated to beat all freak out. I would paint a picture and hear the paint molecules talk, then form cliques and talk nasty about each other. All the time I kept painting--it took an hour or two before the meds wore off that I realized this was a quite abnormal situation.

The painting was accepted into a show. However, I would not suggest Ambien as a way to show your art. Too many unpredictables.

I'm taking Hydroxyz now, but it's too early to say what weird things it might do. I did hear it made Nancy Spungen have a psychotic attack but she was probably prone to psychosis anyway. I'll report back on it next week.
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Old 23 February 2015, 04:09 AM
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Esprise Me Esprise Me is offline
 
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Ambien changed my life.

For as long as I can remember, I've had difficulty falling asleep (though strangely, I've never had any trouble staying asleep, or even falling back asleep if awakened in the night, as long as I wasn't awake too long.) Even as a young child in daycare, I'd get in trouble for failing to nap. It's probably a manifestation of some low-level anxiety, which runs in my family but doesn't otherwise significantly interfere with my life. I've tried antidepressants, which are commonly prescribed for anxiety, and they don't help my insomnia at all. (They don't actually seem to do anything for me.) But Ambien works like a charm. Half an hour after I take a pill, I'm out. The quality of my sleep is excellent, and I wake up feeling no more groggy than usual (which is pretty groggy, but what can you do? That's how it's always been for me.)

Doctors are generally reluctant to prescribe it for more than a few weeks, and newer studies indicate that women should probably only take 5mg instead of the 10mg that had been prescribed for both sexes; because of the way our bodies metabolize it differently, there's a risk of still being under the influence when we wake up and have to drive to work the next morning. I've been on 10mg as needed (which works out to about once every three nights, on average) for...let's see...five or six years now? I don't think I've become dependent. As I said, I've had this problem since I was a toddler, so I don't think it's fair to expect that it'll just clear up after a few weeks of medication. I actually take the pills less often than I used to lie awake at night, which was almost every night, perhaps because knowing I have a magic pill of last resort relaxes me enough to allow me to fall asleep on my own sometimes.

The only downside for me is a bit of anterograde amnesia. After I take the pill and before I fall asleep, I sometimes have conversations or post things on Facebook I don't remember the next day. I'm not noticeably intoxicated--it might be better if I were, because then people would know not to expect me to remember what I said--the experience is similar to when someone revives an old thread here and I start reading from the beginning, not realizing it's five years old, and then am startled to see I've already weighed in on the subject. My writing is still coherent and sounds like something I'd say; I just don't remember saying it. Still, it's a bit creepy. I've therefore instituted a no-posting-after-Ambien rule for myself, and I'm able to remember and follow it even though I do still read other people's posts while I'm trying to fall asleep.
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Old 23 February 2015, 04:42 AM
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I know people who can take Ambien, but I'm not one of them. My experience is more like boogers' than Esprise Me's.

I was given Ambien when I was in the hospital last year (5mg the first night then 10mg the second, when the 5mg didn't do anything). I had such vivid dreams that I wasn't quite sure if I had woken up or was still dreaming*, and I hallucinated for at least 4 days afterwards. I kept seeing insects and spiders (one was the size of a retriever and was walking on a leash with a guy - neither of who were actually there ).

*I had a very vivid dream the first night (to me it was obviously not in my reality, but I felt quite lucid), and I told someone in the dream that I didn't like how I felt and I couldn't tell reality from the dream. The next morning, there was a note on my board to not give me more than 5mg.
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Old 23 February 2015, 06:17 AM
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My experience was the same as boogers', I didn't sleepwalk but I did hallucinate some freaky stuff. I think the Ambien hallucinations were worse than the acid trips I did way back in my clubbing days.

I'm on Trazodone now. I take 25-50mg/night, depending on the insomnia level, and haven't had any troubles with it so far. I've been on it almost 10 years.
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Old 23 February 2015, 03:08 PM
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Darth Credence Darth Credence is offline
 
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I've been taking Ambien for about three years now. I generally take one pill a week, usually on Sunday nights. I have never had any problems at all with hallucinations, sleepwalking, or anything. I just take the pill, read for 10 minutes, then shut the light off and I'm out for the night. OTOH, my wife takes them from time to time and will have a kind of word salad thing going on until she is completely out. After about ten minutes, she is kind of asleep, but will still try to hold a conversation. They are mostly just random words strung together, and eventually she falls asleep and is out.

It seems like it is highly dependent on who is taking them. I know all drugs hit people differently, but this seems like one with the most variation. I don't think you will know whether it is good for you or not until you try it. FTR, I also tried Lunesta, and that just didn't do much for me at all.
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Old 23 February 2015, 06:38 PM
Gayle Gayle is offline
 
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I took Ambien and Sonata many years ago. No problems at all with sleep-walking. who knows about the talking. I already hallucinate, so I can only say that my standard hallucinations didn't change. I quit taking it because my insurance company decided that they would not fill a prescription for more than 7 doses.
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Old 24 February 2015, 02:12 AM
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I took Starnoc for many years and then one night it began to make me hallucinate that the shadows were talking. So I take melatonin now.
I took Imovane, and liked it too, but it gave me rebound anxiety in the afternoon and medicine burps.
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Old 24 February 2015, 04:30 AM
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I prefer Lunesta* (available in generic now) and do really well on a half dose, but I have to be careful with mixing it with other medications, like antihistimines. That's when I post things I regret and wax poetic in strange, midnight journal entries. But I've have full blown sleepwalking episodes on Benedryl alone, so I don't know which to blame.

As a precaution I've never mixed it with alcohol, because I'm pretty sure I'd end up seeing myself on the news the next day, doing something utterly humiliating that I don't remember at all.


*I actually sleep too deeply on Ambien, and it gives me a headache.
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Old 25 February 2015, 04:52 PM
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I think I'm going to stay away from the Ambien, at least for now. I've never had hallucinations before - well, except for that one time at Morro Bay, when I saw the most awesome mandala while taking 'shrooms. But I digress... Considering that three out of the 7 snopesters that answered here did have hallucinations, I'd be afraid of experiencing the same side effects. Not something I would want to deal with without somebody there to talk me down.

For many years I relied on diphenhydramine (Benadryl) as a sleep aid. I stopped taking it since they reported that long term use has been linked to causing dementia in later years. After I stopped taking it, I realized how much how much my short term memory problems were effected by taking it.

I'm a second shift worker, and I think that, combined with being post menopausal, has played all heck with my sleep cycle. I do eventually fall asleep, but instead of it being 1:00 or 2:00 when I doze off, it is now 6-7 am. I sleep until noon or 1:00, then I get up, eat breakfast, and go to work. It makes for a kind of lonely existence. I can't meet up with friends for breakfast anymore, or take Darby to the dog park, because of this. Maybe it's just something I'll have to live with, at least until I retire in seven more years.

Old age sucks.

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Old 25 February 2015, 06:06 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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All these responses makes me so glad I do not need to be on any meds but my bp pill, which has given me no observed side effects, with the occasional use of aspirin for pains, etc.

HC, since I have been getting exercise more regularly, I have been able to drop off to sleep more easily and get right back to sleep when I wake in the night. And I am older than your 'old age'! (ETA: double-checked your profile - it shows both 53 and 59 as your age, so maybe I'm not older). I don't know if you have been getting regular exercise, but maybe a good walk or calisthenics (particularly when the weather sucks) well before bedtime would help if you have not been trying this.
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Old 25 February 2015, 11:16 PM
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Thanks, ATNM. I wish exercise would help. I have a blue collar job, and am walking, carrying heavy objects, cleaning, etc for 8 hours a day. When I was younger (yes, I'm 59 now) my job kept me in pretty good shape, but once menopause set in, the weight came creeping back, no matter how much exercise I did. And of course, lack of sleep can cause weight gain as well.

DOYC, I miss my hormones!!!
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Old 25 February 2015, 11:40 PM
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Yeah, I exercise, too, and it does nothing to help my issue of not being able to stay asleep longer than 15 to 20 minutes at any point in the night. I can fall asleep any time, anywhere, but I can't stay asleep. When the deprivation started effecting my driving, medication was a necessity.
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Old 26 February 2015, 01:09 AM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horse Chestnut View Post
DOYC, I miss my hormones!!!
I suppose you have looked at Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). I know there are pros and cons, though I don't know the particulars. I wonder if it would help with sleep.
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Old 26 February 2015, 07:17 PM
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My doctor gave me some ambien to counteract the insomnia I always get when starting or increasing an SSRI. I'd tried an SSRI and an SNRI before, and for the first two weeks on either I couldn't manage to get to sleep or stay asleep. Benadryl enabled me to get maybe three or four hours in a night, but left me oddly weepy, lifeless and fuzzy-headed the next day. So when my doc put me on Zoloft I asked for something to prevent the same from happening again.

I found that I could get away with taking 5mg rather than the 10 I was prescribed, and had almost no weird experiences. One night I did wake up and woke my husband up by repeatedly asking if he'd saved the game. When he replied with confusion, I muttered that it must have been a dream, rolled over and went back to sleep. The next day I didn't remember it at all. But as far as weirdness goes, that's not even slightly a big deal. It had much less of an effect on my mental state than Benadryl... I may be/am weird, though, so take this with a grain of salt and all that!

I have hypersomnia rather than insomnia with my depression, so now that I've adjusted to the Zoloft I don't need the ambien anymore.
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Old 26 February 2015, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
I suppose you have looked at Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). I know there are pros and cons, though I don't know the particulars. I wonder if it would help with sleep.
I checked into HRT a few years back. Unfortunately, my insurance wouldn't cover this, and my budget wouldn't allow me to pay out of pocket. It's possible that it would help with my insomnia, and I may check into it again. I'm also thinking about trying some kind of sleep therapy. Not sure what direction I should take with this. I'll have to research what my options are.
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Old 26 February 2015, 10:29 PM
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Your insurance plan may have changed, either as they sometimes do or because of the ACA. Or it may be covered if it is considered treatment of a condition other than simply menopause (which is generally considered a natural process, which it is, rather than a disease to be vanquished, which it sometimes is)
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