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You've likely seen the commericals for Ambien, the drug that's supposed to help "you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer". It seems like a great idea for those who can't seem to get a good night's sleep, but recent reports say that adverse reactions to popular sleep medications like Ambien rose dramatically between 2005 and 2010. In fact, the number of ER visits because of adverse reactions rose by 220% during this time period.

The active ingredient in Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar and Zolpimist, zolpidem, is linked to the adverse reactions. Researchers from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) concluded that short-term use of these drugs for insomnia should be closely monitored because of daytime drowsiness, dizziness, hallucinations, agitation, sleep-walking, and drowsiness while driving. The researchers looked at data from the public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related illnesses and deaths and found that emergency-room cases increased from 6,000 in 2005 to more than 19,000 in 2010 from the use of Ambien and other insomnia drugs containing zolpidem.

The researchers noted that women were more affected than men, with ER visits by women taking Ambien accounting for 68% for all trips related to adverse reactions to zolpidem. The researchers also added that the side effects of zolpidem can be increased when the insomnia drugs were taken with other narcotic painkillers or anti-anxiety drugs.

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