If you struggle with chronic insomnia, you know how frustrating this condition can be. The fatigue that results from waking up multiple times throughout the night may leave you feeling like you’re stumbling through your life in a sleep-deprived haze. You may be desperate to find a solution, which can make medications like Ambien seem appealing. However, this drug can have some unexpectedly strange side effects, even when you take it as directed.
How Does Ambien Work?
Ambien is a prescription drug that slows down brain activity, enabling people to fall asleep and stay asleep. It tends to work quickly and can improve some sleep problems within a week to 10 days of use. Unfortunately, Ambien can be habit-forming for users who take it longer or in larger doses than prescribed. Once you have a dependency, you might struggle to get a good night’s sleep without taking Ambien.
Ambien also comes with a range of side effects that may affect you differently, depending on factors like your unique body chemistry and interactions with other medications you might take. Some users have reported experiencing dizziness, disorientation and shaking after taking Ambien, while others may develop more severe health concerns such as difficulty breathing. In rare cases, Ambien can cause unusual nighttime activities like driving and eating.
What Is Ambien Sleep Eating?
Dr. Michael Silber, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Sleep Disorder Center, was the first person to identify and report the phenomenon now known as Ambien sleep eating. In each case, the patients take Ambien as prescribed, and later awake to discover evidence that they had prepared and eaten meals in their sleep. These overnight forays into the kitchen typically result in bizarre combinations of high-calorie foods, prepared and eaten carelessly.
Because they have no memories of their behavior, Ambien sleep eaters may initially be confused about their mysterious weight gain. Researchers who study this phenomenon have dubbed it a sleep-related eating disorder. While they have yet to pinpoint a specific reason some Ambien users engage in sleep eating and others do not, one prevailing reason suggests that eating and sleeping are two primal instincts that can cause the brain to link these urges. Many people with sleep-related eating disorders have nightly uncontrollable binges, which can lead to rapid weight gain. They may also experience injuries from cooking while partially unconscious, such as cuts or burns.
All-Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
If the idea of experiencing side effects like a potential drug dependency or Ambien sleep eating intimidates you, the good news is that you can learn to manage your insomnia with a few drug-free techniques.
- Set a consistent sleep schedule: Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends and holidays. Doing so will help you regulate your body’s natural circadian rhythms.
- Make your bedroom a screen-free zone: If you usually watch TV, play games on your phone or read books on a tablet before sleeping, try removing electronics from your bedroom for a better night’s sleep. These devices emit a blue light that can disrupt your internal clock.
- Create a healthy bedtime routine: You can establish some habits that help signal your brain and body it’s time to wind down and welcome sleep. Try taking a warm bath, drinking a cup of chamomile tea, meditating to nature sounds or doing a series of relaxing pre-bed yoga poses.
- Get active: Do you lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle? Adding more exercise to your day can deplete your energy levels, making you sleepier at night.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment in Taos, New Mexico
Sedatives like Ambien can be habit-forming if you misuse them. Are you concerned about the effects of substance use for yourself or a loved one? Vista Taos offers accredited, family-owned prescription drug treatment on a continuum of care. Contact us today to learn more.