SUMAYYA
10 September 2022
Medically reviewed by
Freny Menezes
Pharm. D
zolpidem-cause-weight-gain
Table of Contents

An overweight or obese person weighs more than is healthy for their height. Adults with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese.

The BMI (Body Mass Index) is used to gauge and screen for obesity and overweight in adults and children. BMI is the person's weight in kilograms divided by their height in metered squares.

Statistics And Facts About Weight Gain In The US

In the US, the prevalence of obesity was 41.9% from 2017 to March 2020. From 1999 –2000 to 2017 –March 2020, US obesity prevalence climbed from 30.5% to 41.9%. 

36.5 percent of adults in the United States are obese, and 32.5 percent of adult Americans are overweight.

In the US, 1 in 6 children has obesity. Severe obesity affects 6.1% of children and adolescents aged between 2 to 19.

Obesity affects about 17% between the ages of 2 and 19. One in eight preschoolers has obesity.

What Is Ambien?

Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative-hypnotic used for insomnia in adults. It slows brain activity  and induces sleep. 

Zolpidem potentiates gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) by binding to benzodiazepine receptors on the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors. 

It has a rapid half-life of 2-3 hours and often works within 15 minutes.

After taking stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine, some stimulant users turn to zolpidem to help them wind down. Off-label, it treats restless leg syndrome. 

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How Does Ambien Work?

Every medication works differently in the body. When it comes to sedative-hypnotics drug class medicine like Ambien, it works by raising the brain's chemicals, known as GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acids). It helps in blocking the messages sent to the brain. Eventually, the brain calms, which helps in having a peaceful sleep. 

Does Ambien Cause Weight Gain?

Sleep eating may be one factor in the connection between zolpidem and weight gain.
After taking the drug, patients might get out of bed and eat food while asleep.

The patients have trouble remembering or recalling what happened the night before. Patients should be aware that zolpidem rarely causes weight gain if they are worried about it.

For instance, hormonal abnormalities could be a factor in weight increase and initial insomnia. A complete medical evaluation, blood testing, and sleep studies might shed light on the patient's weight gain and suggest ways to manage it. 

There are high chances of complications if you are taking more than recommended. There are even chances of death from taking extremely high doses.
No, the consumption of Ambien during pregnancy is not safe. There is a high chance of Ambien affecting the fetus, and it can also show withdrawal symptoms after birth.
Yes, similar to Ambien affecting you from Weight gain side effects, constipation is also one of the side effects.

Study On Ambien Causing Weight Gain

People who abuse Ambien have a very high chance of developing parasomnias (sleepwalking, sleep driving, sleep eating, and even having sex) in sleep. 
Sleep eating may cause long-term effects like rapid weight gain, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

A literature review indicates very few cases of nocturnal sleep-related eating disorders with zolpidem tartrate in the past.

Most frequently, patients sleepwalk to the refrigerator, and instances of patients fully asleep while grilling, cutting, slicing, cooking, and frying meals also have been documented. 
Others have a history of waking up in the morning with food residue on their face, bed, pillow, or kitchen. 

The patients have trouble remembering or recalling what happened the night before. 
Food eaten during such periods typically contains high levels of fat and sugar, such as ketchup, candy, or canola oil. 

How To Avoid Weight Gain While Taking Ambien (Zolpidem)?

  • Take Ambien as directed by your physician.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any medical conditions and about all the medications you are taking.
  • Take care of your stress levels and use relaxation methods like yoga and meditation.
  • Follow sleep hygiene, which entails abstaining from screens, coffee, and excessive alcohol before bedtime.
  • Put locks on the cabinets, stoves, and refrigerators, and install an alarm on your bedroom door.
  •  As you sleepwalk to the kitchen, move furniture and other obstacles out of your way to prevent falls. 
  •  Avoid foods such as caffeine and sugar that interfere with the ability to fall asleep.
  •  Ensure eight hours of sleep before performing activities that require your alertness.
  •  Do not take higher doses than recommended.
  •  Do not take Ambien with other CNS depressants because it increases drowsiness.
  •  Take the Ambien dose at bedtime.
  •  If you have any unusual symptoms, stop the medication or take a different one after talking to   your doctor. 

Do All Non-Benzodiazepines Cause Weight Gain?

A more recent class of sedative medications is the non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics, which include zolpidem, zaleplon, and zopiclone. They help in the quick relief of insomnia.
When used as directed, the effects of these drugs last between 2 and 5 hours, and there are typically no lingering sedative effects the following morning.

The non-benzodiazepines can make you sleepy; the other side effects include lightheadedness, confusion, dizziness, double vision, and memory loss. Overdose symptoms include rebound insomnia, drowsiness, respiratory depression, and coma and respiratory failure in severe cases.

Due to their selectivity, they have a lesser potential for abuse and a lessened risk of dependence. Studies show that non-benzodiazepines had fewer clinically significant interactions with other drugs than benzodiazepines, probably because of variations in cytochrome P450 metabolism.

Any of the non-benzodiazepines may cause disinhibition and hallucinations right after taking the drug. Recent reports of unusual sleep-related events (sleep-eating, sleep-driving) in adults using the medication have raised concern about zolpidem use in youngsters.

Do All Medications Cause Weight Gain?

Medications linked to considerable weight gain include corticosteroids, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihyperglycemics, and antihypertensives.

According to a review on the impact of psychiatric medications on weight, approximately 70% of patients will suffer some weight gain throughout therapy. Examples of frequently prescribed antipsychotics that cause weight gain are Haloperidol, Carbamazepine, and Chlorpromazine.

Compared to antipsychotics, antidepressants consistently show a lower likelihood of weight gain. According to reports, out of all the antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants cause the most weight gain. The most weight gain for this class of antidepressants appears to be related to amitriptyline and nortriptyline.

Over 80% of patients with type 2 diabetes also have obesity. Long-term use of Metformin may cause weight gain in some people.

For the first few months of treatment, beta-blockers cause weight increases, followed by a plateau.
Prednisone, prednisolone, and cortisone use over an extended period may result in weight gain.

What are the Drug Interactions of Ambien?

Drug interactions occur due to the medicinal compounds present in the medicine. Medicines that interact should be avoided for not to cause any problems to your health nor get affect by any side effects.
Medicines such as:

  • Sertraline
  • Escitalopram
  • Fluoxetine
  • Carbamazepine
  • Sustiva
  • Diazepam
  • Clonazepam
  • Lorazepam

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

You might have known about the side effect that Ambien show; towards few people. Weight gain is a side effect of many commonly used drugs leading to noncompliance with therapy. When starting treatment, doctors should choose medications with better weight profiles or, if clinically feasible, think about switching drugs if patients complain about the side effects of weight gain.

Take Ambien as directed and seek medical advice in case of any side effects or unusual symptoms. Following a diet and exercise routine or receiving a combination of treatments may reduce or prevent weight gain. You have to take a prescription from the doctor.

  • Darcourt, G., Pringuey, D., Sallière, D., & Lavoisy, J. (2016). The safety and tolerability of zolpidem — an update. Journal of Psychopharmacology. From https://doi.org/10.1177/026988119901300109  Obtain on 07/09/2022
  • Hurt, R. T., Mundi, M. S., & Ebbert, J. O. (2018). Challenging obesity, diabetes, and addiction: the potential of lorcaserin extended release. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, 11, 469-478. From  https://doi.org/10.2147/DMSO.S126855 Obtain on 07/09/2022
  • Wharton, S., Raiber, L., Serodio, K. J., Lee, J., & Christensen, R. A. (2018). Medications that cause weight gain and alternatives in Canada: a narrative review. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, 11, 427-438. From https://doi.org/10.2147/DMSO.S171365  Obtain on 07/09/2022
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