Medicine Information

Zolpidem helps improve your sleep by boosting a chemical in your brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

GABA blocks some of the neurotransmitters that send messages in the brain. This has a calming effect on the brain, which helps you get to sleep.

Zolpidem should work within 1 hour of taking it.

Zolpidem does not affect how contraception works, including the combined pill and emergency contraception.

Do not have drinks that contain caffeine while you’re on zolpidem. These include coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks and hot chocolate.

Caffeine has the opposite effect of zolpidem on your body and stops it working.

No. Do not drink alcohol while you’re on zolpidem.

Alcohol and zolpidem together can make you sleep very deeply, so you do not breathe properly and can have difficulty waking up.

Zolpidem does not stay in your system for more than about 12 hours.

But some people feel sleepy the next morning when they wake up.

If this happens to you, do not do any activities that require you to be fully alert, such as driving, cycling, or using tools or machinery.

Using cannabis with zolpidem will make its sleep-inducing (sedative) effects worse. You could go into a very deep sleep, where you have difficulty waking up.

Using heroin or methadone with zolpidem may also increase the sedative effects of both drugs. Again, you could go into a very deep sleep and have difficulty waking up.

Talk to a doctor if you think you might use recreational drugs while you’re taking zolpidem.

There are a number of things you can do to help yourself beat insomnia:

  • set regular times for going to bed and waking up
  • relax before bedtime – try taking a warm bath or listening to calming music
  • use thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise
  • avoid caffeine, cigarettes (or e-cigarettes), alcohol, heavy meals and exercise for a few hours before going to bed
  • do not watch TV or use phones, tablets or computers just before going to bed
  • do not nap during the day
  • write a list of your worries, and any ideas about how to solve them, before you go to bed to help you forget about them until the morning

Zolpidem will make you feel sleepy (drowsy). It affects people in different ways and some people may feel sleepier than others.

When you first start taking this medicine, you may feel sleepy during the daytime for the first few days. Be aware that this can affect you being able to carry out everyday tasks.

Some people have reported doing things like sleepwalking, making food and making phone calls while they’re asleep after taking zolpidem. They do not remember when they wake up.

This is more likely to happen if you take zolpidem with alcohol, or medicines for mental health problems like depression or anxiety.

If this happens to you, stop taking zolpidem and go back to the doctor for advice.

You’ll usually be prescribed zolpidem for just 2 to 4 weeks.

This is because your body gets used to this medicine quickly. After taking it for a few weeks, it’s unlikely to have the same effect. Your body can also become dependent on it.

If you still have problems sleeping after you finish your course of zolpidem, try the lifestyle changes recommended below.

See the doctor again if these changes do not help.

If you just take it for a few weeks, you’re unlikely to become addicted to zolpidem.

However, you may become dependent on this medicine if you take it for longer than 4 weeks.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist for advice about stopping zolpidem.

They can help you come off your medicine gradually if you have been taking it for a long time, or if you’re worried about becoming dependent on it.

Zolpidem should only be used short term (usually up to 4 weeks) for sleep problems. This is because your body can become dependent on it.

See a doctor if you feel you need to take it for longer than 4 weeks. They will be able to discuss your sleep problems and recommend other things that may help.

If you have been taking zolpidem for less than 4 weeks, you’re unlikely to have any problems.

If you have been taking zolpidem for longer than 4 weeks, do not stop taking this medicine suddenly. You may get withdrawal symptoms.

Your insomnia can come back and it may be worse than before. You may also feel anxious, restless and have mood changes. You may become very sensitive to light, noise and being touched.

Speak to the doctor first about coming off zolpidem. They may recommend reducing your dose of zolpidem slowly, over a few days or weeks. This will help prevent withdrawal symptoms if you’ve been taking it for more than 4 weeks.

If zolpidem makes you sleepy, dizzy or clumsy, gives you blurred vision or you cannot concentrate or make decisions, do not drive a car, ride a bike or operate machinery.

This may be more likely when you first start taking zolpidem, but could happen at any time – for example, when starting another medicine.

It’s an offence to drive a car if your ability to drive safely is affected. It’s your responsibility to decide if it’s safe to drive. If you’re in any doubt, do not drive.

GOV.UK has more information on the law on drugs and driving

Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure whether it’s safe for you to drive while taking zolpidem.

There’s no firm evidence to suggest that taking zolpidem will reduce fertility in either men or women.

But speak to a pharmacist or doctor if you and your partner are trying for a baby. Your doctor may review your treatment.