Working with shift-changing ER docs as we do, we hear a lot of talk about Ambien (zolpidem), Sanofi’s popular sleep aid. But none of our colleagues have mentioned this bizarre adverse effect: wakeful behavior and amnesia:
“I would wake up in the morning and there would be candy wrappers all around the bed,” she says. “There would be crumbs in the bed. There would be all kinds of evidence that someone had been eating in the bed. But I had absolutely no recollection of it.”
Her sons stayed up to watch her, afraid she would injure herself.
“We have had people, infrequently, cut themselves as they’re trying to chop up food to eat in the middle of the night,” notes Mahowold.
…Mahowald points out that, “Sleep and wakefulness can occur simultaneously. Everybody thinks the brain is either all awake or all asleep, and that’s not true. The brain can be literally half awake and half asleep.”
Interns would agree: you don’t need Ambien to put yourself in this state — just 30 consecutive hours of patient care. But the makers of Ambien wish to inform the public that this side effect is rare — fewer than 1000 logged cases, in over 100 million prescriptions over the years.
More from Sanofi and Wikipedia…