Last updated: 05/15/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 2 minutes
There’s almost nothing worse than having trouble sleeping and it does more than just make you tired. It makes you groggy and makes it harder to pay attention. Your reactions are slower and you can’t concentrate. That’s why millions of people take prescription sleeping pills like Ambien.
But what many people don’t know are the dangers associated with mixing Ambien and alcohol.
What Is Ambien?
Ambien is a commonly prescribed sleeping medication. The active ingredient is zolpidem, a sedative that works on one of the three benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Instead of actually putting you to sleep, zolpidem makes you relaxed and calm, making it easier to drift off. In 2010, five percent of adult women in America were taking sleeping pills on a regular basis.
The Dangers of Ambien and Alcohol
Both sedatives, alcohol, and Ambien depress the body’s systems and each intensifies the other’s effects. That means when you drink and take your Ambien, you’ll be more impacted by the alcohol and by the sleeping pill. This duel effect can have a wide range of consequences, including:
- Poor motor control
- Mild visual hallucinations
- Memory loss
- Shallow breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Another side effect of Ambien is sleepwalking and other sleep activities like cooking, having sex and even driving. Add alcohol to the mix, and these things become even more likely. And while each one is dangerous on its own, they also lead to accidents, falls, and serious—and sometimes fatal—injuries.
And while it’s nearly impossible to accidentally overdose on Ambien alone, when combined with alcohol, it does happen. If you have a history of addiction, talk to your doctor before taking Ambien.
Alternative Sleep Solutions
Before opting for Ambien, try some alternative sleep solutions. Things like daily exercise, cutting caffeine and nicotine, and changing the temperature of your bedroom improve the quality and duration of sleep.
Most importantly, make and maintain a sleep schedule. Have a calm and relaxing ritual that starts at least 30 minutes before bed. Go to bed around the same time each night and get up around the same time each morning, and attempt to get between seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
There Is No Safe Level
We recommend not mixing Ambien and alcohol, and doctors agree. Most inform their patients of the dangers associated with combining the two and recommend not to take the sleeping medication at night, even if one alcoholic beverage was had earlier in the day.
Are You Mixing Ambien and Alcohol?
Because zolpidem, in large amounts, creates a high where users experience euphoria, hallucinations, and extreme relaxation, it is sometimes abused. If you’re taking more Ambien than is prescribed by your doctor, snorting the medication, or using alcohol to increase its effects, it’s time to find help.