Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeExclusiveCan Ambien Cause Early Dementia

Can Ambien Cause Early Dementia

Taking A Sedative Accidents Can Happen

New Alzheimer’s report shows persistent lack of understanding about earliest stages of dementia

Taking Ambien occasionally to help you sleep is generally safe…as long as you stay in bed! But what if you need to get up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet? What if you wake up earlier than usual and get out of bed or go to work?

Chances are, you will still be drowsy from the drug’s effects, and you are more likely to fall, break a hip, hit your head, or have a car accident, especially if you are of an older age. In fact, use of Ambien and other sedatives can double the risk of a car accident or other serious injuries. Sleeping pills should not become a regular habit – and be especially careful when you do use them.

Common Ambien Side Effects

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

People who take Ambien are still likely to be impaired when they wake up, so no one should drive or operate heavy machinery while they take this prescription sleep aid.

What other adverse reactions can occur due to Ambien use?

Some of the most dangerous side effects of sedative-hypnotics like Ambien involve parasomnias. This broad term covers night terrors, confused arousals, and sleepwalking or other sleep activities. Ambien is likely to cause people to perform actions while still asleep, such as walking, eating, driving, having sex, cooking, and talking on the phone. This puts the person taking Ambien at a high risk of physical danger from a car accident, falling, or sexually transmitted infections.

The Question Of Ambien Addiction

Ambien was originally synthesized to be a less addictive alternative to benzodiazepines like Valium and Ativan . For decades, Valium and other drugs in the benzodiazepine family have been prescribed to help patients with anxiety or sleep disorders. However, these popular medications proved to have a potential for abuse and addiction, and many people who initially took benzodiazepines for legitimate medical reasons developed chemical dependency or an addiction to the drug.

There has been some controversy over whether or not Ambien is addictive. Research published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology indicates that the consequences of Ambien abuse meet some of the most important criteria of chemical dependency, including:

  • Tolerance, or the need for higher doses of Ambien in order to achieve the same results
  • Withdrawal, or the presence of uncomfortable physical and psychological reactions to the sudden discontinuation of the drug
  • Compulsive use, or a preoccupation with using the medication in spite of its negative consequences on health, job performance, or relationships
  • Manipulative or unethical behavior, such as drug-seeking, forging prescriptions, or faking symptoms in order to obtain more of the drug

Also Check: Alzheimer’s Paranoia Medication

Which Common Medications Are Linked To Dementia

Emily Hong & Meg Seymour, PhD

You may have heard the media coverage that common medications may increase the risk for dementia. These medications include a variety of drugs, including antihistamines , some antidepressants, and drugs that help people with Parkinsons.1 What do these drugs all have in common, what do you need to know about them, and are there really risks to taking them?

The drugs in question are called anticholinergic medications. They block the action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is important for memory, attention, and learning. Because of this connection to memory and the brain, the side effects of some anticholinergic drugs can include dementia-like symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion.

In most cases, these side effects go away after people stop taking the medications.2 However, people taking some anticholinergic drugs may have an increased risk of developing dementia later.2, 3, 4 It is important to note that there are many types of anticholinergic drugs that treat many conditions. The risk may be specific to some drugs. So, its important to assess each type of anticholinergic drug separately.

A 2019 study conducted in England included 284,343 patients.4 It looked at 56 different anticholinergic drugs to see their effects on risk for dementia. The study found that people had a higher risk for dementia if they took:

  • Antidepressants,

Does Intermezzo Cause Dementia


Ambien dementia is likely to occur twice as often in patients with long-term insomnia aged 50 to 65 years than those older than 65 years. Zolpidem use is associated with an increased risk for dementia in the elderly population with underlying hypertension, diabetes, and stroke issues. Taking the drug for more than six months boosted the risk by 84%.

Don’t Miss: Dementia Neurotransmitter

Is Ambien Safe During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Even though there arent many studies done in humans to reveal its adverse effects on the fetus, it can be deduced that Zolpidem is not recommended for taking during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to the following:

  • Zolpidem crosses the placenta, which may produce respiratory depression and sedation in neonates.
  • During the last three months of pregnancy, it may cause drowsiness or breathing problems in the newborn.
  • Intake during the third trimester can cause slowed breathing and excessive sleepiness in newborns.
  • It may pass into breast milk that is harmful to a child who is breastfed.
  • It can risk the baby coming early and having a lower birth weight.

Zolpidem Cr And Hospitalized Patients With Dementia

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details.
First Posted : December 25, 2008Results First Posted : May 22, 2017Last Update Posted : May 22, 2017
  • Study Details
Condition or disease
DementiaAlzheimer DiseaseDementia, VascularSleep DisordersCircadian Dysregulation Drug: Zolpidem CRDrug: Placebo Not Applicable
Layout table for study information

Study Type :
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Does Zolpidem CR Treatment Change Clinical Outcomes in Elderly Hospitalized Patients With Dementia- A Pilot Study
Study Start Date :
Subjects randomized to Zolpidem CR Drug: Zolpidem CRAfter a 48-hour period of baseline actigraphy and clinical measurements, study subjects were randomized to take either Zolpidem CR 6.25mg by mouth or Placebo by mouth for up to 3 weeks or the end of the subjects’ hospital stay.Other Name: Ambien CR
Subjects randomized to Placebo Drug: PlaceboAfter a 48-hour period of baseline actigraphy and clinical measurements, study subjects were randomized to take either Zolpidem CR 6.25mg by mouth or Placebo by mouth for up to 3 weeks or the end of the subjects’ hospital stay.

Read Also: How To Get A Person With Dementia To Shower

Proton Pump Inhibitors For Acid Reflux

What meds are we talking about?

Proton pump inhibitors to treat acid reflux or GERD like , , and .

What do we know?

Studiessuggest that men and women with dementia are more likely to be taking proton pump inhibitors . PPIs may cause sticky proteins called -amyloid plaques to build up in the brain and strangle brain cells. Long-term use of PPIs could also cause poor absorption of vitamin B12 from your diet, which could also increase your risk for dementia.

More Side Effects With Ambien Use

23 Year Old Is Youngest To be Diagnosed With Dementia

Beyond Ambien’s effects on memory, awareness, and behaviors such as sleep eating or sleepwalking, there may be additional problems with the use of the drug. Consider some of these common side effects:

  • REM sleep suppression
  • Drowsiness, lethargy, or a “drugged” feeling
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Rash
  • Rebound insomnia

Any of these could be bothersome and may interfere with the continued use of the medication. Sometimes the benefits will outweigh the risks. If a symptom is particularly bothersome, discuss this with your prescribing healthcare provider to see if an alternative treatment may be a better option for you.

Recommended Reading: Does Prevagen Help With Dementia

Sexual Side Effects Of Zolpidem

According to the report, the patient with OCD mentioned the decreased libido after clonazepam was replaced by zolpidem. Another report states that sex is a susceptibility factor for adverse effects. Some users make unconscious activities after taking zolpidem before going to bed, including sexual intercourse.

All users should note that having sex with strangers during a blackout or sleepwalk may be fraught with sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and herpes.

Other users intentionally take the drug for unapproved recreational purposes, such as sex benefits. Instead of taking the drug in the bed before sleep, users take the pills and stay awake intentionally, which causes Ambien sexual problems such as an increased desire for sex and a more passionate attitude with increased arousal and lowered inhibitions. However, the drug needs to be taken only as prescribed because even great Ambien sex does not worth possible risks.

Ambiens Impact On Home Life And Relationships

As a prescription sleep aid, Ambien serves the legitimate medical purpose of helping people overcome the effects of insomnia.

However, the fact that Ambien is prescribed by physicians and therapists doesnt mean that this medication is safer than other drugs. The risks of Ambien in long-term users, and in users with addictive disorders, are still under investigation, but current research suggests that this medication may not be as harmless as the medical community once believed.

Over time, Ambien abuse and addiction affect every aspect of a persons life, from physical health to emotional wellbeing and the quality of family relationships. Addiction can separate spouses, parents, and children by establishing an atmosphere of dishonesty and distrust at home. Rebuilding an atmosphere of support, trust, and safety in the home is one of the primary goals of family therapy, a key component of any comprehensive rehab program.

No matter how long an individual has been using Ambien, or how severe the abuse has become, professional recovery programs can help restore health and hope. A rehab program for Ambien abuse can prevent some of the serious consequences of addiction and empower clients to create more stable, sober lives for themselves and their loved ones.

Read Also: Alzheimer’s And Neurotransmitters

Sleep Aids And Dementia: Studies Find Both Risks And Benefits


LOS ANGELES While a large number of older adults take prescription and nonprescription medications to help them sleep, the effect of these medications on dementia risk is unclear, with most researchers advocating a cautious and conservative approach to prescribing.

Research is increasingly revealing a bidirectional relationship between sleep and dementia. Poor sleep especially from insomnia, sleep deprivation, or obstructive sleep apnea is known to increase dementia risk. Dementias, meanwhile, are associated with serious circadian rhythm disturbances, leading to nighttime sleep loss and increasing the likelihood of institutionalization.

At the Alzheimers Association International Conference, researchers presented findings assessing the links between sleep medication use and dementia and also what agents or approaches might safely improve sleep in people with sleep disorders who are at risk for dementia or who have been diagnosed with dementia.

Exposure To Bdz Assessment In Included Studies

Seven Stages of Dementia

None of the included studies focused on a single class or category of BDZ. Patients were classified as being exposed to BDZ if they took any BDZ for a prespecified duration. However, the included studies performed ad-hoc analyses according to various categories of BDZ. The method of exposure assessment differed across the included studies. The use of BDZ was analyzed using medical records in five of the six case-control studies, and self-reported in the sixth study, while medical records were used in two of the four cohort studies, with self-reporting in the other two. Further information about the BDZ use and assessment is given in Table 1 and and22.

Read Also: Pathophysiology Of Dementia Disease

Why These Drugs Have A Stronger Effect In Older People

As we age, our ability to process medication changes. The kidneys and liver clear drugs more slowly, so drug levels in the blood remain higher for a longer time. People also gain fat and lose muscle mass over time. Both these changes affect the way drugs are distributed to and broken down in body tissues. And because these drugs are stored in body fat, they can continue to produce effects days after people stop taking them, especially in people with a higher proportion of body fat. In addition, older people tend to take more prescription and over-the-counter medications, each of which has the potential to suppress or enhance the effects of the others.

Atypical Benzodiazepine Drugs For Insomnia

What meds are we talking about?

Insomnia medications in the class of medications known as atypical benzodiazepines like , and .

What do we know?

Insomnia medications, specifically ones that are part of the atypical benzodiazepines class, have been linked to an increased risk for dementia in the elderly.

For the medications on this list, the risk for impaired brain functioning is worse with higher doses over an extended period of time. Most of the related mental effects can be resolved if you stop the medication, but there is a chance that some may not. In any case, if a medication can impact your mind long term, you should know about it.

To those suffering from dementia or caring for a loved one who is, we are with you.

Dr O.

Also Check: What Color Is For Alzheimer’s

What Improvements Were Noted With Ambien Treatment

There were a variety of symptoms that were assessed, ranging from difficulty speaking , lack of responsiveness , and movement problems associated with lack of motor coordination. The responses were objectively measured with various validated symptom scales used to gauge coma, Parkinsons disease, dystonia, and other problems.

In general, zolpidem provided transient relief: most improvement, if observed, lasted only one to four hours. These improvements were repeatable, requiring frequent dosing due to the short half-life of the drug. Improvements were seen in motor, auditory, and verbal abilities. Some comatose or vegetative patients improved to a minimally conscious state, a few even tried to speak.

There were also studies that demonstrated improvement in functional neuroimaging, suggesting a clear change in the brains chemistry and connections. The unique effects may be present in patients whose basal ganglia are injured, a part of the brain that helps to process information to coordinate a desired movement or motor response.

Unfortunately, zolpidem doesnt work for everyone. In fact, only 5 to 7% of patients with disorders affecting consciousness responded to the drug. This means that up to 95% of the people who used it did not have a favorable improvement in their states of consciousness. Among those subjects with movement disorders, the response rates were higher, reaching 24%.

What Are The Long

Family First: Importance of early detection for dementia

What are the long-term side effects of zolpidem?

How long can you take zolpidem? Is it safe to take for a long time? Zolpidem should only be used short term for sleep problems. This is because your body can become dependent on it. See a doctor if you feel you need to take it for longer than 4 weeks.

Does zolpidem cause brain damage? An increased risk of falls resulting in brain injury and hip fracture has been observed in those taking zolpidem. This is especially true for folks 65 and older.

Can zolpidem cause liver damage? Introduction. Zolpidem is a benzodiazepine receptor agonist that is used for the treatment of insomnia. Zolpidem has rarely been implicated in causing serum enzyme elevations and has not been reported to cause clinically apparent liver injury.

Recommended Reading: Alzheimer’s Neurotransmitters

Does It Really Affect The Memory

It is known that Ambien may cause memory loss as a side effect, a symptom of amnesia, especially at higher doses. If you take the medication and do not go to bed, this may be more likely to occur. When you immediately go to bed, a loss of memory is typically inconsequential. It doesnt matter if you dont remember lying awake for a few minutes before falling asleep, or after awakening during the night. There are many reports of people taking the sleeping pill and remaining awake and out of bed, however, with the affected person not recalling subsequent events.

Due to the association noted with other sleeping medications like diphenhydramine and benzodiazepines, there is some concern that Ambien could affect long-term memory and contribute to the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This possible association has not been proven by research to this point.

Insomnia Anxiety Drugs May Raise Dementia Risk

Sept. 27, 2012 — Seniors who take certain kinds of drugs to treat anxiety or insomnia may be more likely to develop dementia than those who do not, a new study shows.

Seniors are often prescribed benzodiazepines or similar drugs to help with sleeping problems or anxiety. And even though most of these drugs are only meant to be used for a few weeks or months at a time, the drugs can be habit forming. Studies have found that many older adults stay on them longer, sometimes for years.

The new study, which is published in the BMJ, compared the risk of dementia in two groups of French seniors — 95 who were recent users of any of 23 benzodiazepines or similar drugs at the start of the study and 968 who were not.

During the next 15 years, doctors diagnosed 253 cases of dementia. Thirty people who had taken benzodiazepines or similar drugs developed memory loss and difficulty thinking, compared to 223 people who had not taken them. Drugs used by people in this study included Ambien, Halcion, Klonopin, Restoril, Valium, and Xanax.

Even after accounting for other things that are known to affect brain function, like age, living alone, depression, high blood pressure, and diabetes, researchers found that seniors who took benzodiazepines were about 60% more likely than those who didnât to develop dementia.

Recommended Reading: Does Prevagen Help Dementia


Most Popular