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Wild nights can happen with Ambien

If you find it difficult to drift off to dreamland, your doctor may prescribe you a sleep aid like Ambien. However, the makers of the drug say it may cause a decrease in inhibition, which could result in overly aggressive or outgoing behaviors.

Dr. Jennifer Chen Hopkins, a sleep specialist with highly rated Sleep Disorders Center of Central Texas in Austin, Texas, says the effects of Ambien are similar to those produced by alcohol because the chemicals affect the same brain receptors.

"These are the same receptors that mediate the action of benzodiazepines, like Valium or Xanax," Hopkins says. "Just as alcohol can lower inhibitions and impair judgment, other chemicals can have these effects on some people."

Both Hopkins and Emmy Tsui, spokeswoman for sanofi-aventis U.S. — the makers of Ambien — say an increase in uninhibited behaviors isn't very common, but to avoid unwanted and potentially dangerous side effects, people taking the sleep aid should use the drug according to directions.

"Patients shouldn't take sleep medicines with alcohol as it may increase these behaviors," says Tsui, who adds if patients experience any aggressive or outgoing behavior, they should consult their physician.


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Be safe with sleep medication

In an effort to catch more z’s, the National Sleep Foundation estimates about 25 percent of Americans turn to a variety of medications, including prescription hypnotics, over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies.

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