Reports are growing of patients taking insomnia medication Ambien, getting up at night, eating loads of food, going back to bed, and remembering nothing of the event next morning.

Sanofi-Aventis’ Ambien is the most popular drug in the world for people who suffer from insomnia. In the USA alone, 11 billion nights’ worth of Ambien are consumed each year. 30 million people in the USA take sleep medications – a nearly 50% increase since 2000.

Perhaps this increase in the consumption of sleep medication may explain the rise in the number of people reporting this bizarre side-effect.

Sanofi-Aventis says sleepwalking is a very rare side effect of Ambien. However, as the company has no statistics on sleepwalking it is unlikely to know how rare the event really is.

There have also been more patients reporting short-term memory loss. A rising number of patients are getting up in the morning, still feeling the effects of the drug, getting behind the wheel and crashing their vehicles.

Many experts say patients, especially in the USA, are using drugs for insomnia for longer than they should.

Drugs for insomnia are heavily advertised in the USA, where it is allowed to target prescription drugs adverts at patients.

How common these problems of sleepwalking and short-term memory loss are is difficult to know. The FDA’s reporting system is done on a voluntary basis.

Doctors stress that a patient should not stop taking Ambien abruptly, the process has to be gradual, otherwise there are risks of serious problems, including seizures.

At Medical News Today we are flooded with patientss opinions on Ambien and Lunesta. The main theme seems to be that doctors try to get their patients off Ambien because of dependency – but many patients don’t like the metallic aftertaste of Lunesta.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today