It has all the risks of drunk driving, but without a drop of booze. Worst of all you might not even realize you’re in no condition to get behind the wheel.
And it’s all because of a sleeping pill you took the night before.
Zolpidem, the main ingredient in drugs such as Ambien, Edluar, and Zolpimist can linger in the body long after you wake up — turning you into a hazard on the highways during the morning commute.
The danger is so great that the FDA has just cut the dose in half — to 5 mg from 10 mg for the normal versions of the drugs, and to 6.25 mg from 12.5 mg for the extended-release versions.
The greatest risk is to women, who don’t metabolize the drug as quickly as men. In recent tests, 15 percent of women still had such high levels of the drug in their systems after 8 hours that they were in no condition to drive.
The risks aren’t as great in men, with those same tests showing that only 3 percent were still impaired after 8 hours — but the feds say docs should consider lowering the dose for them, too.
It’s a rare bit of common sense from the FDA, since the dangers of all that next-day grogginess go far beyond a rush-hour fender bender. Studies have shown, for example, that seniors who take sleep medications are more likely to suffer falls.
I’m convinced that it’s because many of them remain foggy and unbalanced even after they wake up — and it’s not just the zolpidem-based drugs that can have these lingering effects.
One of the most common complaints I hear from patients who come to me after getting any sleep meds from a mainstream doctor is that they just don’t feel right the next morning.
In addition to being groggy, they’re still tired — even hazy — and some report a headache. They feel so lousy that many people use the same word to describe it: hangover.
Fortunately, I’m almost always able to get them off the drugs and onto natural solutions that can help them get the rest they need without the dangerous after-effects.
And your own non-drug answer to sleep problems could be a lot simpler than you might think.
Keep reading for more!