World’s Most Ironic Coffee Mug
Originally uploaded by bkmcae.

I suffer from occasional insomnia. My doctor, as so many doctors do, prescribed ambien.

Now, I have no real horror story to tell. I took it, and promptly fell asleep (as I’d been warned I would) and stayed asleep for eight-plus hours (as I’d also been warned I would). When I awoke, I awoke more rested and refreshed than I’d felt in weeks.

But my wife told me I’d awakened earlier than I remembered awakening — sort-of. She gave me an early-morning list of things to do that day, as she often does. I responded appropriately, but she immediately recognized that I wasn’t really awake.

All this she told me later. I don’t remember a bit of it.

So she waited a few minutes and gave me the list again, and this time I remembered it later. No harm, no foul, all is OK, right?

Well, yeah, if you don’t mind losing a half-hour in which only your wife can tell you’re still asleep. (I’ve been subjected to hospital anesthesia three times in the past year, and the same thing happens when I awaken. It doesn’t happen when I’m sleeping “naturally”.)

I did a little research. I got off lucky.

Run a Google search for ambien sleepwalking. Read a few stories.

Rx List | Ambien and Sleepwalking
I have been taking Ambien for about 12-16 months now. Prior to taking this, I never experienced sleepwalking (I am 59 years old). I was really unnerved this morning upon awakening. On my kitchen counter were 4 apples, 1 egg, mixing bowl, cutting board, 1/4 cup orange juice, paring knife, steak knife–and in my den, on my sofa, my favorite cookbook. I HAVE NO MEMORY OF GATHERING THESE ITEMS.

Washington Post | To Sleep, Perchance to…Walk
There is no reliable estimate of how many Ambien users sleepwalk, and no one knows who might be at risk. The prescribing information for Ambien lists somnambulism as a “rare side” effect, meaning that it has been reported in fewer than one in 1,000 patients.

New York Times | Study Links Ambien Use to Unconscious Food Forays
The sleeping pill Ambien seems to unlock a primitive desire to eat in some patients, according to emerging medical case studies that describe how the drug’s users sometimes sleepwalk into their kitchens, claw through their refrigerators like animals and consume calories ranging into the thousands.

The next morning, the night eaters remember nothing about their foraging. But they wake up to find telltale clues: mouthfuls of peanut butter, Tostitos in their beds, kitchen counters overflowing with flour, missing food, and even lighted ovens and stoves.

New York Times | Sleeping Pill Users Range Far Beyond Bed
With a tendency to stare zombie-like and run into stationary objects, a new species of impaired motorist is hitting the roads: the Ambien driver.

Ambien, the nation’s best-selling prescription sleeping pill, is showing up with regularity as a factor in traffic arrests, sometimes involving drivers who later say they were sleep-driving and have no memory of taking the wheel after taking the drug.

…A registered nurse who lives outside Denver took Ambien before going to sleep one night in January 2003. Sometime later — she says she remembers none of the episode — she got into her car wearing only a thin nightshirt in 20-degree weather, had a fender bender, urinated in the middle of an intersection, then became violent with police officers, according to her lawyer.

The New Yorker | The Ambien Cookbook
Sorpresa con Queso
Ingredients: 7 bags Cheetos, 17 to 19 glasses tap water, 5 mg. Ambien
Place Cheetos bags in cupboard. Take Ambien, fall asleep. Wait 2-3 hours, then sleepwalk to kitchen, tear cupboard doors off hinges in search of Cheetos…eat contents of all 7 bags…

Tell me: Am I over-reacting?