I too have raided the refrigerator, watched a movie, only to wake up to an empty bag of chips on the floor, an open bottle of wine on the counter, and none of it within immediate recall after being confronted by my wife.Usually I can remember bits and pieces of the night before.The adverse effects wear off.I typically can wake up within 4 hours and not feel any lingering effects, which is useful if I’m trying to nap before starting a night shift.Then I take a half tab before going to bed in the morning.
I’ve been on Ambien most nights for the past 6 years, mostly because of shift work, flipping between night and day shifts, living in like a perpetual jet lag without any of the benefits such as collecting fond memories and exotic passport stamps…The first night I took Ambien I was amazed at what a good night’s sleep I had.Since then, it hasn’t been as profoundly restorative, but mostly better than the alternative.It ***** not sleeping.I’m aware that Ambien is only recommended for 7-10 days, and the clinical trials were in numbers of weeks, not years.Not much is really known about the long term effects, and it needs to be scrutinized.Unfortunately, I think it can be difficult to remove factors that contribute to cognitive impairment that exist alongside Ambien use, such as depression, anxiety, caffeine use, diet, lack of exercise, and sleep deprivation itself.
I have periodically gone Ambien-free, but only for 2-3 nights at a time, which is only possible when I am caffeine free, and not subjected to the erratic schedule, and when I can exercise regularly.I had to re-learn how to sleep, and then only when completely off stimulants, and on a lighter work schedule.The longest I was off Ambien in the past 6 years, was maybe a week.Then there is coffee.There is nothing like it for energy and mood elevation when sleep deprived, or not wanting to be at work,or craving sleep, or staving off depression.Wake at 7am, go to work at 4 or 6pm, and don’t get home and in bed until 3 or 5 am.Or maybe go to work at 11pm, get to sleep at 10am, then get up for work at 5:30am a couple of mornings later. I do that for a week, and my mind starts going to muck, so I’m back on the mud.My mantra has been, “there is only one thing worse than no coffee, that’s not enough of it”. That in part has fueled my Ambien use, or maybe I should say addiction, and/or dependence.
But recently, my concentration has been off, I’m having decreased fluency of speech, and it feels like there is something interfering with my thought process.My depression has been worse.Holy ****, have I screwed myself for all these years taking Ambien?How much is it all the other stress in my life?
An earlier post brought up a valid point, one which is confounding.The causes of insomnia, varied as they may be, can contribute to memory loss.In my case, it’s a stressful job, caffeine use, occasional alcohol, chocolate, crazy work hours, lack of exercise, marital discord, parenting, it’s is a no-brainer.Remove all that crap and I’ll sleep like a baby, right? Still, it seems like a chicken or the egg.I can’t think clearly, it bugs the **** out of me, and I’m depressed about it.
What causes what?Is it just a prolonged case of caffeine withdrawal?Is it early dementia?Is it the Ambien?My mother had Alzheimer’s.My dad was a brilliant engineer, test pilot, CEO, entrepreneur, public speaker and has never taken Ambien in his life, yet he is now cognitively impaired.
If depression can cause memory loss and cognitive impairment, wouldn’t the combination of sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression do the same?And what if sleep deprivation can cause or exacerbate anxiety and depression?None of us need a pharmaceutical brain f*&k on top of that.I feel for those who left or lost their jobs.This past week I felt like resigning, but I can’t afford to retire or take a cut in pay.And I’m up at 4 am blogging instead of sleeping in on father’s day.I should mention, watching TV or surfing the web won’t help me get to sleep.God help us all if Ambien turns out to be the dementing poltergeist we fear it might be.All I can do is stop taking it, deal with insomnia by optimizing sleep hygeine and hope for the best.