I roll over in bed to the rays of sunshine beaming down on my face. I stretch lavishly, turn onto my right side, and snuggle in with the covers pulled up to my chin. What a glorious morning, I think to myself as I relish in the warmth and security of my fetal position. An arm flops over my left side, wanders around and settles on my belly. “Hmmm, last night was great honey,” came the muffled male voice from my backside. My eyes fly open immediately, taking in my surroundings and realizing that I was at my (ex)boyfriend’s house. “What are you talking about?” I snap back, fully awake for the first time that morning. He grunted in amusement, patted my tummy, and said “Don’t wanna talk about it, huh?” He had my attention now, and I sat upright in bed, shaking his hand off me. After three minutes of pulling teeth with my questioning, I finally find out what he is talking about. Seems that during the night, we had divulged in adult pleasures, and I had no recollection of it. None. He got out of bed in a huff a minute or so later, refusing to believe that I didn’t remember the night before. I jumped out of bed and immediately headed for the internet, pulled up a search bar, and plugged in “Side effects+Ambien”. And there, in black and white, was the answer to my midnight rendezvous that had escaped my memory. “Serious adverse reactions including severe anaphylactic and anaphylactoid reactions, abnormal thinking and behavior, complex behaviors, withdrawal effects, amnesia, anxiety, other neuro-psychiatric symptoms and CNS-depressant effects have been reported with zolpidem.” Zolpidem, aka Ambien. And the culprit to my state of unawares? Amnesia. You got it folks, the use of Ambien as a sleeping aid has been reported, scientifically, to cause amnesia in those who are prescribed the medication. And abnormal thinking/complex behaviors also flew right into my categorization. I would think that being fully awake and functioning while thinking that you were still asleep would classify as abnormal and complex. Enough about that though, I just wanted to get my point across that I have been there and suffered from that, leading me to sympathize with the people who are claiming to suffer from Ambien sleep eating.
Ambien is prescribed most generally as a sleep aide, and shouldn’t be used for a continuous period of more than 7 to 10 days without strict physician’s orders and evaluated care. Highly addictive, not to mention deadly if taken more than prescribed, it is one of the most sought after sleep aides on the market. But as time progresses, the company that markets Ambien and its researchers are finding that more and more cases of Ambien sleep eating are being reported. Not a matter to be taken lightly, drug side effect sheets that are issued along with this prescription include the previously mentioned warning.
Just what is Ambien sleep eating? Reports that have been made mention in general the level of awareness from patient’s who use Ambien during nocturnal forays into the kitchen. Their level of awareness? Absolutely zero. The patient gets out of bed, fully awake (or so it looks) and makes their way into the kitchen. While there, they prepare and eat food that they have no memory at all of ingesting. Some reports have been made stating that the patient awakes in the morning to food/crumbs in their bed, wrappers/packaging/uneaten food littering the floor, and food stains on their body/nightclothes. Not to mention what their poor kitchen looked like. Nearly every report that has been submitted has noted the general lack of care during the nocturnal binges, disorder and sloppiness seem to be linked to the Ambien sleep eating epidemic. Many sufferers have also noted that they had gained a significant amount of weight while on Ambien, and had made no changes to their dietary regimen during their “waking” hours. Who needs to be awake to pack on the pounds? Ambien is to the rescue.. ok, well maybe not.
Why is Ambien sleep eating potentially risky? Other than the fact that most people consume exorbitant amounts of high caloric foods while sleep eating that will surely pack on a lot of unhealthy poundage, how safe is it to be preparing food when you really aren’t mentally aware of what you are doing? It’s been shown that people not only cook food on the stove, but they also use the microwave during their midnight trips to the kitchen. Sharp objects come into play in more than one reported scenario while preparing food for their nightly binge. This seriously can’t be safe. The dangers of operating kitchen appliances and using sharp objects are in the forefront of our minds everytime we utilize them while we are awake. If we aren’t truly awake and aware of what we are doing, how on earth can people go on avoiding serious dangers during their preparations? Leaving a burner on, accidentally catching something on fire, losing a finger to a sharp object, microwaving objects that you shouldn’t be and causing an explosion. The consequences are endless.
When I heard about this type of Ambien related occurrence, I took it upon myself to talk to a few friends who take Ambien on a regular basis. And found out that yes, they had experienced waking up in the morning to food in the bed and their kitchen a disaster. Some blamed it on their children or spouses, until they were confronted with hard evidence that it was them doing it. A friend of mine also stated that she had a house guest who was staying in their bedroom while at their house, who was on Ambien. One night while watching television, my friend said that her house guest took her nightly dose of Ambien, and a while later joined her on the couch to view some t.v. A glass of soda in one hand, and a Pringles can in the other. After a bit, her friend started trying to drink the Pringles straight from the can, and was completely oblivious to it. And my friend’s bedroom when the house guest finally went home? Total disaster! There were more Pringles in her bed than she had thought that she had in her entire house. Her nice white guest sheets were now stained with Pringles grease (which goes to prove that the commercials about Pringles that were out years ago showing that they didn’t emit grease was a lie). And another acquaintance of hers? Let’s just say that the last thing I would want to wake up to is what her friend endured, opening her eyes to greet the morning and instead meeting her bed covered in Beanie Wienies. That had to be one very unpleasant mess to deal with.
But is Ambien sleep eating the only problem associated with taking the medication? It seems not. As I opened this article with one of my own Ambien experiences, it is plain that it ranges to areas other than eating. Just this morning I was talking to a friend (yes, I talk alot) and when I mentioned Ambien she went into a whole repertoire of Ambien related horrors that she had heard about in her hometown. The worst scenario she relayed to me? An acquaintance of hers had decided while under the influence of Ambien to remove the small fatty cyst that appeared on her jawline. With a razor blade. Sliced it open, removed the cyst, and never knew what hit her until she woke up in the morning. Another of her friend’s (wow, I just realized how many of her friends are taking Ambien, and I thought the drug wasn’t prescribed very often!) decided that she must wax her entire body, from the hairline on her forehead down. Everything. She woke up feeling like she had been put through a meat grinder, and it wasn’t until further inspection that she found she had bloodied and bruised certain areas of her body while waxing.
Now I’m wondering how this form of amnesia occurs, and why. To me, either you are sleeping, or you are awake. This is more than mere sleepwalking. This is sleep living. Is it possible for the brain to function the body and turn off whatever causes us to remember what we do? It has to be, because it is happening. Bottom line, in my theory, is that Ambien shouldn’t be prescribed for people who frequently suffer from insomnia. It should only be given in rare instances where a person isn’t able to sleep for a short span due to some event in their lives. When it was prescribed to me, I was given 10 pills. One more refill, of another 10 pills. And once they were gone, I wasn’t able to get more. And the circumstances to which it was provided were very relevant to needing it. I was ramping onto a medication that I would be taking everyday, and the early side effects caused me to go days without being able to sleep. So I took my pills, used them sparingly, and when the incident happened to me that I mentioned earlier in this article, I threw the rest of them out. I refused to have a life lived for me that I had no memory of participating in. Yes, it was only one incident. But I was conscientious enough to think of what could happen if I continued to take it. I think I had another week and a half after disposing of the Ambien where I still didn’t get the sleep that I needed (needed? I think I slept 15 hours in that time span). But I made it through it, and I encourage those who use Ambien now to consider the possible side effects of long term usage, and to take the necessary precautions that they might need to in order to avoid possible dangers.
If you would like to find out more information about the potential side effects of Ambien, you will find a link to the left of this article that will take you there.