The latest research provided by the Minneapolis Regioan Sleep Disorders Center links strange binge-like behavior to users of the sleep-inducing drug, Ambien. Reports include people scraping up food like wooded wildlife in their sleep - a sleep-eating, if you will. Now, this isn't an isolated study, even the Mayo Clinic obtained similar findings in their testing. This behavior baffles me and scares me all at the same time. A drug that will induce such a sound sleep that an individual can ravage the cupboards to their heart's content and never realize it is the strangest thing I've heard in a long time. Hmm, don't they notice their cupboards resemble Mother Hubbard's?
A Sanofi-Aventis (the company that produces Ambien) company spokeswoman, Melissa Feltmann, stated that there are warnings about sleep-related eating disorders occuring as side effects. Reactions have been varied, ranging from simple sleepwalking to hallucinations, violent outbursts, and these eating binges. Even more troubling, a few reports of sleep dirving have occurred. The Food & Drug Administration has responded that they will be monitoring the drug's safety record. When I first saw commericals for this drug and they warned "If you don't have 8 hours to give to sleep, don't take the pill." that scared me. I wonder how many of these incidents are happening not because the drug is dangerous, but because the patient isn't following directions. If you aren't sleeping well at nights, chances are, you aren't getting, or taking, at least 8 hours to do it.
Marketing works. The advertising budget doubled in 2005 from 2004 to a whopping $130 million resulting in $2.2 billion in sales. No wonder. Remember those ads? Who wouldn’t want to rise in the morning after a restful sleep looking like a Vogue model in the latest lingerie style? And those cute puppies all curled up snoozing in their basket are a comfort for anyone. They didn’t clarify that the possibility of you turning into a starving dog might happen.
The bottom line is that a doctor should examine their patient’s lifestyle before prescribing a drug that is one milligram short of anesthesia. Are they eating less than 2 hours before bedtime? Are they allowing 8-10 hours for sleep to occur? Are they eating healthy and drinking enough water? Are they exercising enough? Is their lifestyle such that their stress level is so high that only a sleep-inducing pill will help them get some zzzzzs? If you answer yes to that last question, you’ve got more problems than insomnia.