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Could your sleep medicine get you into a car accident?

Could your sleep medicine get you into a car accident?

Date: January 14, 2013

For many people in Arlington Heights who struggle with insomnia, sleep medications like Ambien have provided a huge health benefit by helping them to sleep at night. But sometimes sleep aids stay in the body longer than we realize, even lingering after the alarm clock goes off and we head off to work. The result, according to the Food and Drug Administration: drowsy drivers who are at high risk of causing a serious car accident.

One of the key ingredients in many sleep aids is zolpidem, a drug that some people’s bodies take longer to eliminate than others. Women are especially likely to still have zolpidem in their systems the morning after taking a sleep drug than men, though researchers are not sure why. The drug causes drowsiness that can impair your ability to drive safely. The FDA has heard of car accidents that may have been caused by zolpidem, though the agency says a conclusive link may not be provable.

Zolpidem is found in many popular sleep aids, including Ambien, Ambien CR and generic versions of both drugs. Users of either extended-release or immediate release drugs could be affected the next morning. The FDA is recommending that the drug companies cut their recommended doses of drugs with zolpidem in half for female patients. The FDA is not going that far for male patients; instead, it wants the companies to change the labeling to encourage doctors to consider halving the doses.

Readers who take Ambien or a similar sleep aid and sometimes feel groggy in the morning may want to consult their physician about possibly lowering their dosage.

Source: Health, “FDA: Lower Ambien’s Dose to Prevent Drowsy Driving,” Amanda Gardner, Jan. 11, 2013

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