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Insomnia and Buttered Cigarettes

Insomnia can involve:

  • trouble getting to sleep
  • staying asleep
  • waking up too early

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. But 1 in 3 American adults are not getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Ambien (Zolpidem Tartrate), is a drug often prescribed to treat insomnia.

The side effects of Ambien (and other sleep drugs containing zolpadem) can be disastrous.

The side effects can range from strange hallucinations to sleep driving, sleep talking, sleep eating, drawing on friends, nightmares, confusion, memory deficit and murder.

The long list of possible side effects can be found on drugs . com
Here is a sample:

  • rapidly changing moods
  • restlessness
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • sense of detachment from self or body
  • false beliefs that cannot be changed by facts
  • feeling of unreality
  • thoughts of killing oneself or changes in behavior
  • trouble recognizing objects
  • trouble thinking and planning
  • trouble walking
  • trouble breathing
  • uncaring
  • unease or dissatisfaction with life
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • yellow eyes or skin

Is Murder One of the Side Affects Associated with Ambien?

“Numerous reports have described people fixing meals, having sex, and even getting into their cars and driving away in the middle of the night, with no later recollection. A few “Ambien zombies” have wrecked their cars and even killed people in accidents.

“But in at least three cases, a person with no apparent motive and no history of violence brutally murdered a spouse or close friend in the wee hours after taking more than the recommended dose of zolpidem along with other psychotropic medications.” [source]

The drug maker Sanofi and the FDA have known for years that Ambien has serious side effects. On the FDA website one can investigate adverse effects of specific drugs, if you are tenacious, have time, and dig through the information using the Freedom of Information Act.

Ambien Can Cause Sleep Eating Binges

“Janet Makinen took Ambien for six years and never understood why she was sleepwalking and eating bizarre things like raw eggs, uncooked yellow rice, and loaves of bread while she slept. Once the nighttime binge eating began, she started gaining weight and eventually went from a size 1 to a size 12.” [source

Dr. Mark Mahowald, sleep researcher,  has observed nocturnal eating as a side effect of taking Ambien.

Mahowald, told CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone, “We’ve had people eat very inappropriate things that they would never eat while awake. Some example would be buttered cigarettes, salt sandwiches, raw bacon.”

The next morning, the night eaters remember nothing about their foraging. But they wake up to find telltale clues: mouthfuls of peanut butter, Tostitos in their beds, kitchen counters overflowing with flour, missing food, and even lighted ovens and stoves. Some are so embarrassed, they delay telling anyone, even as they gain weight.

“These people are hell-bent to eat,” said Dr. Mark Mahowald, who is director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis and is researching the problem. – NY Times article

Sleep driving!

Forensic toxicologist Laura J. Liddicoat, BS, supervisor of the Toxicology Section at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) in Madison, reported her findings after reviewing blood samples of 2,300 impaired drivers in the state of Wisconsin. In the 53 most extreme cases of erratic driving, it was found that all 53 drivers had taken Ambien and it was present in their blood.

“The driving was so bizarre – such as driving on the opposite side of the road, having head-on collisions,” says Liddicoat of the cases sent to her office for testing. “Simply bizarre behavior – it wasn’t simply weaving in the lane.” -CBS Evening News

Bizarre Behavior

Erratic behaviors reported after taking zolpidem are not limited to impaired driving, but have included sleepwalking, eating, drinking alcohol, belligerent outbursts, urinating in inappropriate places, agitation, confusion, dazed appearance, slurred speech, incoordination, and poor balance. Usually patients have no memory of these incidents and are at a loss to explain subsequent events, such as why food is missing from the refrigerator or why alcohol bottles are half empty. [source]

Ambien Stories

Ambien wild side effects have been collected in these 44 Ambien stories. There are stories easily found on the internet:

  • Husband on Ambien said to his wife, “I saw Jesus in the living room and he was acting like a horse.”
  • 48 year old female reported, “Last Wednesday I took one of my pills and fell asleep very quickly. The next thing I remember was being in the Sherriff’s office arrested for a DUI.  Apparently I drove through someone’s yard. The police were called and they gave me a field sobriety test, didn’t pass, was handcuffed and taken to jail and booked. I was wearing my pajamas and slippers.”

Suicidal Thoughts: This is not just a side effect for Ambien.

Several commonly prescribed drugs are known to cause suicidal thoughts and tendencies:

  • The stop-smoking drug, Chantix
  • Accutane, an acne drug
  • Singulair, an allergy drug
  • Certain epilepsy drugs
  • Tamiflu, a flu drug
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs (low cholesterol is associated with increased rate of suicide)
  • Seroquel, antidepressant

Take care of yourself

There are many natural ways to approach the problem of insomnia. Please try these first. Seek the help of a functional medical doctor, naturopath or holistic nutritionist. Read my book, The Reclaim Diet, and build a solid foundation with a nutrient-dense eating plan that will balance blood sugar.

  • Quality animal protein (grass-fed red meat, free range chickens and eggs, wild caught fish)
  • Healthy natural fat (coconut oil, organic grass-fed butter, extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocado)
  • Vegetables (6-9+ servings per day of fresh, colorful vegetables)
  • Whole fruit, possibly limited, depending on a person’s blood sugar control
  • Seeds, nuts

Nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods and quality supplements support the body and add relaxing minerals, amino acids and herbs. Saliva testing will help identify hormone imbalances that can be corrected naturally.

Essential oils can help bring a restful night of sleep.

Medication always has side effects. Before using a prescription medication take the time to read the prescribing information on the drug manufacturer’s website, or ask  your pharmacist for a complete list of side effects and warnings. Sometimes the medication is worse than the condition for which it is prescribed.

Read all my posts related to sleep here.

I, Erin Chamerlik, am a Holistic Nutrition Educator, not a physician. As such, I do not diagnose or treat disease; rather I help support the healing response of the body through food, nutritional supplements, and relaxation exercises. This information is educational only and is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. The statements made by Erin Chamerlik or Get Better Wellness, Inc. have not been evaluated by the FDA . Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with your physician if you have any concerns about changing your diet or taking supplements.