Ambien (zolpidem) is a drug closely related to the benzodiazepine class of drugs though it is technically classified as a imidazopyridine. It is used most commonly to treat insomnia and has been found extremely effective as a short-term treatment for moderate to severe insomnia. It however is not a long-term cure for insomnia as dependence and ultimately worse insomnia can develop from prolonged use of the medication. Ambien is also popular in travel medicine for helping to minimize and treat the insomnia that often accompanies jet lag from changing time zones. Due to the different applications and unique chemistry of patient's bodies Ambien is prescribed and manufactured in a variety of doses.
Ambien (zolpidem) 5 mg
The recommended starting dose for those with insomnia is 5mg. For many this dose will provide enough effects to promote sleep and get rid of insomnia. This dose is particularly helpful for eliminating racing thought patterns that may be causing insomnia. For some splitting the Ambien (zolpidem) 5mg dose in half and only taking 2.5mg is sufficient enough to promote sleep. The lower dose of Ambien that can be taken while still providing the desired effects the better. Lower doses of Ambien are less likely to cause harmful side effects to manifest themselves. Also, lower doses of Ambien are less likely to result in physical dependence or nasty withdrawals when the treatment is stopped. Another reason that patients are often started off on 5mg is that the side effect of drowsiness is greatly diminished at this dosage compared with higher doses. However, caution should still be exercised when taking Ambien 5 mg as drowsiness and loss of coordination can still be present the next day at this dosage.
Ambien (zolpidem) 10 mg
Ambien also is commonly prescribed in tablets containing 10mg of the medication. This is prescribed when the 5mg tablets are not effectively promoting sleep and easing insomnia. Greater caution should be exercised when taking Ambien (zolpidem) 10mg. One study has found that the likelihood driving will be impaired the next day is much greater with Ambien 10mg than it is with Ambien 5mg. It has also been observed that driving impairment is greater in women who ingest Ambien 10mg than men. This is due primarily to the lesser body mass that women generally have compared to men. Other side effects such as headache and gastrointestinal distress are also increased when taking Ambien 10 mg compared to Ambien 5mg. It is never advisable to take an amount greater than 10mg of Ambien a night. Trials have proven that at doses above 10mg Ambien's effects on sleep are not augmented significantly compared to the increased chance of harmful and unpleasant side effects seen at doses exceeding 10mg.
Ambien CR Doses: 6.25 mg and 12.5 mg
Ambien CR is prescribed in doses of 6.25mg and 12.5mg. Though these doses are slightly higher than Ambien's doses of 5mg and 10mg they are essentially equivalent in effect. The doses for Ambien CR are higher because they are absorbed more slowly into the system and are designed to last longer than instant release Ambien. Next day drowsiness is often higher when taking Ambien CR due to the time release effect and slightly larger doses. For this reason extreme caution should be used when driving or operating heavy machinery the day after taking Ambien CR.