Zolpidem: Definition, Uses & Side Effects

Instructor: Justine Fritzel

Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.

Zolpidem is a prescription medication available through your healthcare provider. In this lesson, we will learn about the uses and side effects of Zolpidem.


We've all had one - a night when you just couldn't go to sleep, when you had insomnia. The longer you lay there trying to go to sleep, the more you worry about not going to sleep. The harder you try to make yourself go to sleep, the more awake you become. The next day you feel exhausted and groggy, barely able to get through your day.


Sleep is so important for our bodies. It restores and refreshes us. Unfortunately, some people may experience insomnia more frequently than others. This can negatively impact their lives, and they may need to see a doctor to help them get more sleep.


Zolpidem is a medication classified as a hypnotic or sedative. It is used to treat occasional insomnia. Sometimes the chemicals in our brain become unbalanced and cause insomnia. Zolpidem works on these chemicals to help a person sleep.

Zolpidem comes in an immediate release form, which is just used to help people fall asleep. There is also an extended release form that has two layers. One layer helps a person to fall asleep and the second layer helps a person to stay asleep.


Dosing of zolpidem is different for males and females. It is a prescription drug that has to be prescribed by your healthcare provider and purchased at a pharmacy.

Let's think back to that night when you were tossing and turning and unable to go to sleep. But this time, let's say your doctor had prescribed you zolpidem so you decide to try it. You take the pill and lay back down to try to sleep. Your mind is still racing, but before you know what happened you are sound asleep until your alarm goes off the next morning!


Side Effects

All medications have side effects, and zolpidem is no exception. Always consult with your healthcare provider and/or your pharmacist to make sure zolpidem will not interact with other medications you are taking.

You should not drink alcohol when taking zolpidem because this will cause an additional CNS depressant effect, which means it will cause increased sedation. You should take zolpidem when you have at least seven hours to sleep. Be aware that it can be habit forming and should only be used for occasional insomnia. You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you've been taking zolpidem regularly and suddenly stop taking it.

Common side effects can include constipation or diarrhea, depression, drowsiness, lethargy and headache. It is common to have a hangover effect the next morning, meaning you'll continue to feel drowsy for a few hours upon awakening.

Less common side effects that are more serious include worsened depression, suicidal ideation, and hallucinations. Some people taking zolpidem have been known to do things that they later don't remember. If you experience any side effects, you should report them to your doctor.

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