This past Thursday, the US Food and Drug Administration went public and stated that, from their standpoint, doctors who were in the habit of prescribing sleeping pills had to reconsider the dosages they recommended to their patients.
The drugs targeted by this warning issued by the FDA are as follows: Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar and Zolpimist. Apparently, several studies have shown that, when taken at the current recommended doses, these widely used sleeping pills are likely to keep a person from being fully alert during daytime.
As the researchers working with the FDA explain, this might not be such a big issue if this lack of alertness only translated into minor issues such as knocking over a coffee cup or forgetting to turn off the lights when leaving home for work.
However, it looks like said sleeping pills can negatively impact on one's ability to perform more complex tasks such as driving a car, meaning that they up an individual's risk of getting involved in various accidents.
Carbonated explains that it is not the drugs per se that toy with one's alertness. Quite the contrary: what people must be worried about is their active ingredient, a chemical compound referred to by specialists as zolpidem.
This is because people, and women in particular, have a rather difficult time flushing out this chemical compound from their bodies during nighttime.
Thus, it often happens that zolpidem is still present in their organisms when they wake up in the morning and start going about their business.
“To decrease the potential risk of impairment with all insomnia drugs, health care professionals should prescribe, and patients should take, the lowest dose capable of treating the patient’s insomnia,” stated Ellis Unger, M.D., director, office of drug evaluation I in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Furthermore, “Patients who must drive in the morning or perform some other activity requiring full alertness should talk to their health care professional about whether their sleep medicine is appropriate.”
The FDA asks that the current recommended doses of zolpidem for women be cut in half: from 10 milligrams to 5 milligrams in the case of Ambien, Edluar and Zolpimist, and from 12.5 milligrams to 6.25 milligrams in the case of Ambien CR.
As far as men are concerned, the FDA stated that it was advisable, yet not mandatory, that the current recommended doses be lowered in the aforementioned manner.