Zolpidem, brand name Ambien, is a sleep aid which slows down the central nervous system. It acts as a depressant to aid users in falling asleep faster and more soundly. It is also available in a longer-lasting time release form to help users stay asleep for an 8-hour period. Side effects can appear due to both excessive dose amounts and extended usage.
Loss of Effectiveness
Zolpidem isn't usually prescribed for long-term use because of the loss of effectiveness of the drug over time. MayoClinic.com states that loss of effectiveness over a long period of time is common for most sleep aids, including zolpidem. It is advised that zolpidem only be used for one to two weeks and then wait a period of time before using it again. How long a period of time the drug is used for and at what dosage should be discussed and carefully planned between the user and her doctor.
Dizziness Upon Discontinuation
Long-term use of zolpidem can leave users feeling dizzy. Drugs.com states that about 5 percent of those who used the drug for 28 to 35 nights reported feeling dizzy when they stopped using the sleep aid. This occurred when doses of up to 10 mg were used and were differentiated from placebo-treated patients.
Lethargy and Drugged Feeling
Drugs.com reports that patients who used zolpidem for up to 35 consecutive nights complained of feeling lethargic and drugged. The website cites a study in which 152 patients took at least 10 mg of the drug over a 28- to 35-day period; 11 reported either lethargy or drowsiness, and 3 reported feeling drugged. In comparison, only 5 of 161 placebo users reported feelings of drowsiness.