Why You Should Take Ambien On An Empty Stomach

According to Science Daily, nearly 70% of Americans take at least one prescription medication per month, with around 50% taking two. This highlights the significant role medications play in the management of health conditions in the United States. According to a 2022 study published in the journal BMC Psychiatry, the use of sedative-hypnotics has been growing in the United States, with Ambien (zolpidem) being the most widely used.

Ambien is used to treat sleep disorders such as insomnia. It's part of the group of sedative-hypnotics, which slow down brain activity to induce sleep (via Medline Plus). The active ingredient in Ambien, zolpidem, enhances the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter, in the brain, explains a 2022 study published in the journal StatPearls. GABA is responsible for inhibiting certain neurons' activity, which helps slow down brain activity and induce feelings of relaxation and drowsiness, via the Cleveland Clinic.

Ambien is available in two formulations: immediate-release and extended-release. Immediate-release Ambien is designed to help you fall asleep quickly, while extended-release Ambien is formulated to help you stay asleep throughout the night, says Healthline. Both formulations are available as oral tablets and are typically taken once daily, usually at bedtime. Ambien is only intended for short-term use, typically for 1-2 weeks or less, and should be due to the risk of dependence and other potential side effects.

Ambien will work more effectively when taken on an empty stomach

​​When taking Ambien, it is recommended that you take it on an empty stomach. This is because taking Ambien with a meal may delay its onset of action and decrease its effectiveness, according to Drugs.com. Ambien is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, and its effects are felt within 30 minutes after taking it, according to Penn Medicine. However, when Ambien is taken with food, the absorption process may be delayed, meaning it doesn't start working as quickly. Moreover, when interacting with food, the effectiveness of the medication may be reduced because certain foods can interfere with the absorption of Ambien. For example, fatty foods can slow down Ambien absorption, says a 2020 article published in the Archives of Applied Science Research.

Generally speaking, it's important to follow your doctor's instructions on how to take Ambien. This will help with the effectiveness of the medication and reduce the risk of side effects. Your doctor may also recommend a specific time of day to take Ambien, depending on your individual needs and medical history.

Side effects of Ambien

While Ambien can effectively improve sleep, it can also cause side effects, especially when not taken as directed by a healthcare provider. Ambien's most common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, and nausea, per American Addiction Centers. These side effects are generally mild; however, if these side effects persist or become severe, you must talk to your doctor. In rare cases, Ambien may cause more serious side effects, such as sleepwalking, sleep driving, and other unusual behaviors while asleep. These behaviors can be dangerous, resulting in falls and other injuries. Memory loss and allergic reactions, such as hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing, may also occur. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Ambien may also cause depression, anxiety, other mental health symptoms, hallucinations, or seeing or hearing things that are not there (per Drugs.com). Aggressive behavior, agitation, and other behavioral changes have also been reported. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, shaking, and sweating may occur if someone stops taking Ambien suddenly after prolonged use.

It's important to take Ambien exactly as your doctor prescribes and to inform your doctor of any other medications or supplements you are taking before starting treatment with Ambien. Ambien may interact with certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and pain relievers, which can increase the risk of side effects or interfere with the effectiveness of the medication, according to Healthline.