What Happens If You Stay Awake After Taking Ambien?

A quality night's sleep is key to feeling your best the next day. Oftentimes, though, it seems that no matter how tired we are, getting enough shut-eye that goes undisrupted by bathroom trips, the car alarm going off, or worrying about a big work presentation can be difficult. 

That is why so many of us turn to sleeping aids for a good night's slumber — and we do mean many. According to CBS News, nearly 9 million adults in the United States rely on prescribed sleep aids to help them snooze. And among the prescription sleep aids on the market, one of the most popular is Ambien.

Medical News Today states that Ambien is a powerful sedative used to help those suffering with insomnia. Ambien is classified as a controlled substance by the government. This is because if misused, it could quickly lead to an addiction, as well as symptoms associated with withdrawal. Ambien is normally prescribed as a short-term treatment for those struggling to sleep and should be taken right before bed. But what happens if you suddenly find yourself awake after taking an Ambien?

The side effects of staying awake on Ambien

The side effects of taking an Ambien and staying awake are similar to the side effects of sleepwalking while on Ambien. "If the Ambien failed to knock me out, I would go into a sort of waking blackout," writes editor and former Ambien addict Laurie Sandell (via Glamour). When discussing her long-distance telephone chats with her boyfriend while staying awake after taking an Ambien, Sandell admits, "We would have entire conversations I couldn't remember the next day. Or it would make me strangely hypersexual: We would have entire sessions of phone sex I couldn't remember."

Sandell isn't alone in her blackout experiences with the drug. Intelligencer shares that there is an entire subreddit titled "Things you did on Ambien," where Ambien users share the unusual things they did while "awake" on the sedative. Per Medical News Today, some ambien users would engage in unusual behaviors such as sleepwalking or activities like preparing and eating food, having sex, and driving a car with no recollection of doing said actions the morning after.

If you are taking Ambien, make sure you follow your doctor's advice on how and when to take it with the correct dosage. Medical News Today recommends discontinuing taking the sleeping drug if you experience any unusual behaviors while under its influence, whether asleep or awake.