Concerns about certain sleep medications including the pharmaceutical giant Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) have come to a head as reports continue to surface of Ambien users experiencing sleepwalking, memory loss/amnesia, binge eating while sleeping, having sex while sleeping, and other troubling side effects.
Ambien has been on the market since 1999. While reports of disturbing side effects have been coming out of the woodwork since its early years in circulation, it wasn’t until 2007 when the FDA instructed Sanofi-Aventis, Ambien’s manufacturer, to toughen its product labeling to use stronger language to warn consumers of the potential risks.
According to Parker Waichman LLP, these risks include, “severe allergic reactions and complex sleep-related behaviors, which may include sleep driving. Sleep driving is defined as driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic product, with no memory of the event.” (1)
Other sleep medications that have been asked to revise their labeling include:
- Butisol Sodium (Medpointe Pharm HLC)
- Carbrital (Parke-Davis)
- Dalmane (Valeant Pharm)
- Doral (Questcor Pharms)
- Halcion (Pharmacia & Upjohn)
- Lunesta (Sepracor)
- Placidyl (Abbott)
- Prosom (Abbott)
- Restoril (Tyco Healthcare)
- Rozerem (Takeda)
- Seconal (Lilly)
- Sonata (King Pharmaceuticals)
Ambien has also caused a stir in the UK, where it has been linked to six deaths. Stateside, Ambien was among the prescription drugs found in Heath Ledger’s New York apartment after he was found dead by his housekeeper. According to Parker Waichman LLP, “results of a postmortem examination on the actor were inconclusive.” (1)
A New Approach to Sleep Support
Ayurveda can be credited with the somewhat radical notion that sleep trouble often comes from the body not having enough energy to unwind the nervous system to be able to drop in to a good night’s rest. In effect, we may be “too tired to sleep.” To support the body in replenishing its depleted reserves, Ayurveda employs a combination of herbs, diet and lifestyle protocols to rejuvenate the nervous system.
In addition, Ayurveda breaks down sleep concerns into several different categories which are characterized by a variety of differences in symptoms. Sleep concerns in these different categories each have their own set of supportive protocols.
You can read more about the Ayurvedic approach to supporting sleep in my following articles: