When You Take Too Much Ambien, This Is What Happens

Of the over 100 identified sleep disorders to date (via Sleep Foundation), the American Sleep Association (ASA) reports insomnia to be the most common. Short-term insomnia symptoms affect at least 30% of adults, with some experts believing this number to be as high as 50% (via Cleveland Clinic). While these temporary symptoms may last for a couple of days or a few weeks, 10% of adults deal with a condition known as chronic insomnia, in which sleep difficulties are experienced three nights or more per week for a period of three months or longer (via Healthline).

Because insomnia can impact one's quality of life, doctors may prescribe medications to help improve a patient's sleep. Ambien is one such sleep aid (via RxList). When taken as prescribed, Ambien reduces brain activity, thereby easing our body into sleep (per American Addiction Centers).

However, Ambien should always be prescribed at the lowest possible dose on an as-needed basis. The starting dose is suggested at 5 milligrams for women, and between 5 and 10 mg for men, per RxList. A single dose should be taken at bedtime seven to eight hours prior to waking, and no more than one dose should be taken in a single night. When taken in excess, the drug can pose some dangerous health risks.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Taking more than 10 mg of Ambien can be dangerous

As a sleep aid, side effects associated with Ambien may extend into the next day including drowsiness, headache, lightheadedness, dizziness, or diarrhea (via RxList).

However, in some cases, more severe side effects may occur. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that from 2005 to 2010, there was a 220% increase in emergency room visits due to Ambien usage (via American Addiction Centers). According to RxList, severe Ambien-related side effects warranting prompt medical attention include confusion, aggression, depression, anxiety, thoughts of hurting yourself, memory problems, or hallucinations.

In the event of an overdose, physical side effects may include slowed breathing and heart rate, loss of consciousness, or coma, per American Addiction Centers. Because Ambien overdoses can be life-threatening, if you or someone you know is experiencing an overdose, immediately call 9-1-1. In addition, watch for bluing of the lips or fingertips as an indication of difficulty breathing. Do not induce vomiting, but keep the individual's airway clear by removing anything around their neck, such as a necktie.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.