Don't take it.
At the risk of sounding like a drug addict (which I'm not), I need to share my Ambien adventure. Luckily, I haven't had an Ambien adventure like some people have had.
For anyone who doesn't know, Ambien is a prescription sleeping medication that is considered a sedative-hypnotic.
Some people have had horrendous side effects while on Ambien - including eating, cooking, driving... doing all sorts of things.... while essentially in a "sleep" hypnotic state and having no memory of it the following day.
Someone I love who was prescribed Ambien after his divorce decided during the night that he was hungry for hashbrowns, got into his car and drove off - running into eleven parked vehicles before he "woke up" and realized something was wrong. He drove home and called the police. After making sure that he was not under the influence of alcohol or street drugs, he got off with eleven tickets.
That scared me. And I've heard even worse Ambien horror stories.
One of my doctors called in a prescription for Ambien the night he telephoned me to tell me that my uterine pathology report had come back positive for cancer. That was two and half years ago.
I was told to take an Ambien on nights that I couldn't fall asleep. Well, there is a problem with the hypothesis that Ambien helps on "nights you can't fall asleep". After taking Ambien ONE night, I couldn't fall asleep again without it. O.N.E. N.I.G.H.T.
I've taken 10mg of Ambien every single night since the night my doctor prescribed it. Except for two nights last summer while we were evacuated from Los Alamos because of the Las Conchas Fire. I ran out of Ambien, went through all sorts of red tape in an attempt to get my prescription refilled in the town I evacuated to, but still had to do without it for two nights - one where I just laid in bed with my eyes wide open, the next where I tried to medicate myself by drinking copious amounts of wine.
That didn't work.
After my friend's hashbrown/parked cars experience, I decided I wanted to stop taking Ambien. Also, to be honest... I was having little nighttime experiences that were scaring me - having to go back twenty pages from my "dog ear" in whatever novel I was reading because I couldn't remember what I read the night before, thinking I dreamed about writing an email to a friend in Lubbock and freaking out the next day when she responded, having late night phone conversations and not remembering them the following day until reminded by the person I was talking to. (How many have I possibly had where the person didn't remind me the next day? Oh my!)
I talked to one of my doctors about getting off Ambien last Spring. I knew I had to wait until school was out because I couldn't get to school on time under normal circumstances and it would be much worse if I didn't sleep at night. My doctor told me that when I was ready, to spend one week alternating between 10mg and 5mg of Ambien, the next week alternating between 5mg and none, then stop taking it totally.
Well, I'm really bad at following directions so I went down to 5mg for two nights and then last night, I didn't take any Ambien.
I didn't sleep good on the nights I only took 5mg because my body is used to 10mg. Last night - it went way beyond "not sleeping good". I laid awake in bed for hours, finally dozing off to awaken drenched in sweat and freezing. Repeatedly. Yucky. At 3:00am, I woke up scared. That's the only way I know to describe it - just an intense feeling of free-floating anxiety.
And you know how I like fun.
Thankfully, I was able to stay in bed until 11:30 today. I seemed to sleep better (and drier) after daylight.
It dawned on my during the night that I was experiencing drug withdrawal symptoms. Just like a street drug addict in a detox center.
I start teaching summer school on June 18th. I've got to get past this point before then. I have no idea how long it will take for the symptoms to go away or the best way to proceed. I spent hours on the internet last night where there are all sorts of tales and all sorts of advice.
What seems right to me is to try to sleep tonight again with no Ambien. If I can't, I'll take 5mg and alternate like the doctor told me to.
It just seems to me that if I made it through one night without Ambien, I shouldn't go back to taking any. I want to be able to sleep without any kind of sleep aid.
This experience has given me more compassion for people with insomnia. It's miserable to lay in bed all night with your body tired and your brain tired but your eyes open. It's also given me more compassion for people detoxing from alcohol or drugs. That's miserable, too.
And it's taught me how something as innocent as wanting to sleep the night you find out you have cancer can turn into something overpowering.
Ambien. Don't trust it.
Tired but awake Jenn