Steve Martin's Ambien Experience

Before I explain both the virtues and vices of the popular insomnia cure prescription tablet Ambien, take a look at this video.

I'm not sure if you remember my mentioning the bizarre and adverse effects that can occur for some people who use Ambien, Stilnox, or as it's generically known zolpidem? It was featured in this post. Well if not, I eluded to things good old Steve talks about above, and I can guarantee you that in the video Steve Martin is NOT telling David Letterman a joke. Although it is quite hilarious, the poker experience actually happened to him. These kinds of bizarre things have been known to happen to some people who take this medication.

I'm certainly not suggesting that if you take Ambien you'll become an internet poker millionaire in your sleep, but it is worth it that I point out the incredibly elaborate and complex functions some are capable of completing under the influence of Zolpidem.

Perhaps you remember the story of a Senator (Patrick Kennedy) who was found after he had crashed his car into a security brigade at the US capital? The police assumed he was drunk (Kennedy + drunk = not much of a mental leap) Of course it was later confirmed by blood tests that he had no alcohol in his system. Yes, that, my fair and gentle readers, was another bizarre adverse effect felt from Senator Kennedy taking an Ambien tablet prior to his accident. Here's the link to the full story.

Some other stories that you may find amusing regarding Ambien are the tale of a house wife in Michigan. Apparently she fell to a sound sleep after taking an Ambien tablet, and when she woke the next day her front door was painted green (the kind of green paint used to finish decks). Since she was alone she assumed it was some kind of practical joke, but later she realized that it must have been her sleep painting (?) as her bed clothes and slippers were splashed with the paint. Now I can think of many things I'd like to get done while I'm walking in my sleep, painting the front door is definitely not one of them.

Another story, and one entirely not amusing, is about a Korean man prescribed Stilnox who walked off his 23rd story balcony to his death. He was happily married with a good job and no reason to commit suicide. The only difference between that night and any other for him was that his doctor had recently prescribed Zolpidem to help him sleep.

So now you know what horrors, embarrassments and potential winfalls await you from the use of this drug. I am not saying it is not completely beneficial to getting a good nights sleep, in fact it is one prescription that frequent travellers swear by. But it should also be noted that people in hotel rooms have been known to wander from their rooms into the hallways of hotels to relieve themselves, thinking in their sleep state that the outer hallway is a bathroom. This, according to an official at the Grand Hyatt, is a very common occurence.

My advice is that if you must take an Ambien, you make sure you've locked yourself in for the night - keeping the doors double latched to prevent any wandering and keep the balcony doors tightly sealed from any sleepwalking incidents.

Again I cannot crucify this medication as it truly does help people sleep, people who are afflicted with most types of insomnia. I have used it myself on occasion, and can attest to the fact that it will knock you out cold fairly quickly. The newer timed release versions will also let you sleep longer - as normal Ambien has a very short half life. The plain truth is it works well, and these side effects are on the rare end of the spectrum. However in this case, saying "it will never happen to me" is a fool's wage. Make sure you have taken precautions.

So just remember to be careful of your insomnia cures as some remedies contain serious medications. Be aware that you must have some preperations in order before taking drugs to help you sleep, to ensure you cannot fall victim to this kind of side effect. And for the love of all things good in this world, NEVER take sleep medications while you are drinking alcohol.


  1. Awesome site IreneM... Where were you about 20 years ago? I am currently involved with a sleep specialist. Sleep Apnea is very dangerous so I am finding out. Keep up the great work on this very important problem.

  2. Thanks for the compliment BA. Yes sleep apnea is a serious condition and one of the biggest problems is that it goes undiagnosed in many people, causing all kinds of nastiness.

    With sleep apnea your body doesn't get enough oxygen to the brain, and oxygen deprivation can lead to many problems - including heart disease, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, and learning/memory problems.

    If your specialist hasn't told you already, you can do things yourself to help with the problem, such as;
    - lose weight (if you are overweight that is :),
    - stop using alcohol, tobacco, and sedatives,
    - maintain regular sleep hours,
    - use a nasal dilator, breathe right strips or saline nasal spray
    - elevate the head of your bed 4 to 6 inches.

    Please stop by again and let me know your progress and I hope you get in under control :) Anytime you need help just ask.

  3. A very nice informative blog :) Keep up the good work

  4. Thanks Saqib. I'm not much for the template but haven't had the chance to upgrade yet. It's on the way though :)

  5. Another great article!
    I have a touch of sleep apnea and it is scary!

  6. Thanks so much Gena. I recently wrote an article on sleep apnea that goes into more detail about the disorder. I hope you take some of that advice because it's nothing to take lightly!

    Please check in from time to time.