• Take zolpidem just before bedtime with a drink of water.
  • These tablets make you sleepy. If you still feel sleepy the next day, do not drive or use tools or machines.
  • Do not take zolpidem for longer than your doctor tells you to.
Type of medicine Hypnotic
Used for Insomnia
Also called Stilnoct®
Available as Tablets

Zolpidem is used for a short period of time to help sleeping difficulties. It reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and increases the length of time spent sleeping. Zolpidem works by acting on the way the messages are sent in your brain which help you to sleep.

Zolpidem is not normally taken for more than 2-4 weeks. This is because your body gets used to this medicine within 3 to 14 days and after this time it is unlikely to have the same effect. Your body may also become dependent on it when it is taken for longer periods of time.

Before taking zolpidem make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have sleep apnoea (a problem where you stop breathing for short periods at night) or any other breathing problems.
  • If you are feeling depressed, or have any other mental health problem.
  • If you have severe muscle weakness such as in myasthenia gravis.
  • If you have ever been addicted to drugs or alcohol.
  • If you have kidney or liver problems.
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or any other medicine.
  • Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
  • Take these tablets exactly as your doctor has told you to.
  • Take zolpidem just before bedtime with a drink of water.
  • Zolpidem is only recommended for use over a short period of time. Do not take zolpidem for longer than your doctor tells you to.
  • These tablets make you sleepy. If you still feel sleepy the next day, do not drive or use tools or machines.
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are taking zolpidem.
  • If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
  • If you stop taking zolpidem suddenly, your sleep problems may return. To prevent this your doctor may ask you to reduce your dose of zolpidem over a few days.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this
Drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness Make sure your reactions are normal before driving, operating machinery or doing any other jobs which could be dangerous if you were not fully alert
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, speak with your doctor
Diarrhoea Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids
Hallucinations, feeling irritable, nightmares, poor memory If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor

Some people taking zolpidem have done things while they are asleep that they may not remember when they wake up, such as sleep walking, sleep-driving and having sex. If this happens, discuss it with your doctor.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

  • Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else has taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
  • This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
  • Never keep out of date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
  • If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
  • Manufacturer's PIL, Zolpidem 5 & 10mg Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Zolpidem 5 & 10mg Tablets, Winthrop Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated April 2009.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Last Checked:
Document ID:
3509 (v22)
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