Zolpidem (Ambien) for recovery of consciousness: Does it really work?

Zolpidem is a sedative used to treat insomnia or sleep apnea & helps you fall asleep. It belongs to sedative-hypnotic class & works by slowing the activity of the brain to allow sleep. It affects the unbalanced chemicals in the brain in people having sleeping difficulty. It is nonbenzodiazepine GABA agonist which induces sleep by activating GABA receptors in the brain. It comes in immediate release form by the brand name of Ambien & extended release form as Ambien CR. The immediate release form helps you to fall asleep & the extended release form helps to stay asleep.

Important instruction about Zolpidem

It should not be taken without doctor’s prescription. Do not share Zolpidem with another person especially having a history of drug addiction. If it causes a severe allergic reaction like breathing difficulty, chest pain, swelling of face or lips immediately seek medical help. It should not be used in children. Never take the drug in the large amount or for a longer period than prescribed as it may cause serious side effects. It makes the person sleepy so avoid engaging in activities such as driving, eating or walking which requires complete alertness. It should not be taken after alcohol consumption. It should not be used if suffering from liver & kidney disorder. Zolpidem can be habit-forming so it should be used only for short term or it can result in ambien addiction. You may experience some withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped suddenly without consulting the doctor.

Recovery of consciousness

Recovery of consciousness with ZolpidemDisorders of consciousness can be caused by traumatic or anoxic brain surgery which includes vegetative or minimally conscious state. There is a transient improvement in consciousness in patients with a disorder of consciousness with the use of Zolpidem. It enhances GABA transmission & promotes sleep. Zolpidem has strong hypnotic effect & weak anxiolytic & anticonvulsant property. Zolpidem also has a myorelaxant effect.

In vegetative & minimal conscious patients zolpidem has been reported to cause temporary recovery of consciousness but the mechanism & how often this improvement occurs is unknown. A study was performed to evaluate the use of zolpidem in patients with disorders of consciousness. A study was performed by placebo controlled, double blind & single dose crossover in 84 patients by trained professionals for the duration of 4 months. Out of which 4 definite responders were identified. Increased movement, social interaction, as well as command following, are the drug responses but these indicators last for 1 to 2 hours. Some mild adverse effects occur with zolpidem.

Conclusion about Zolpidem (Ambien)

Ambien has shown some encouraging results in a small number of patients having the disorder of consciousness. Around 5 per cent of participants respond to Ambien. It is concluded that most patients do not benefit from buying ambien. As it does not have the same effect on most patients with impaired consciousness. It shows the effect on one in fifteen patients according to a small trial in 2009. It has low response rates. After being treated with drug ambien, it will show temporary improvement with increased alertness in DOC patients.  Research is still required to explain Ambien mechanism & its role in patients with disorders of consciousness.