Warnings Released About Stilnox™ For Chronic Insomnia

Hey there Guys,

Almost as a follow on after yesterday’s post on lifestyle medicine, I received a medication warning about the drug Stilnox™.

Stilnox™, the trade name for zolpidem, has been available for sale in Australia since year 2000  and has been associated with unusual side effects, with some people reporting committing bizzare acts while using the medication.

In 2010 the Queensland state president of the Australian Medical Association Dr Ingrid Tall was interviewed stating she was no longer willing to prescribe the drug. The interview also noted:

 …she [Dr Tall] described cases in which she believed people had experienced adverse reactions, including a teenager who committed suicide despite having no history of clinical depression, and an elderly woman who regularly made jelly and ironed clothes while she was “sleeping”.


Reported in today’s Medicines Safety Update:

In 2007, the Australian media drew attention to reports of parasomnias, amnesias, hallucinations and suicidality with zolpidem use. Subsequently, the following boxed warning was added to the zolpidem Product Information (PI):

Zolpidem may be associated with potentially
dangerous complex sleep-related behaviours
which may include sleep walking, sleep driving
and other bizarre behaviours. Zolpidem is not
to be taken with alcohol. Caution is needed with
other CNS depressant drugs. Limit use to four
weeks maximum under close medical supervision.

From 2009 to 2012 the following Stilnox™ related episodes have been reported in Australia:

  • 29 episodes of sleep walking
  • 27 episodes of amnesia
  • 12 episodes of hallucinations
  • 7 people were reported to be dependant on the medicine
  • 6 people have had road accidents attributed to use of Stilnox™

Australian media has not been shy in reporting these episodes but sadly they still occur.

For this reason it is recommended that Stilnox must never be used with alcohol or other drugs used for sedation or sleep. When used, Stilnox should only ever be used for a limited period of time carefully monitored by your doctor.

If you are having problems sleeping and would like to try some natural ways to fall asleep I often recommend some of the following tips:

  1. Avoid using computers, reading or eating in bed. Your bed should be for sleep or sex only.
  2. If you enjoying reading before bed it’s best to read fiction rather than non fiction. Fiction can help relax the brain to allow easier sleep.
  3. Warm milk can be helpful as it contains tryptophan which can help induce sleep.
  4. Cooling of the body is associated with the start of the sleep cycle. Having a warm shower about 30 minutes before you head to sleep can help sleep as your body starts to cool when you hop into bed.

Of course if your sleep problems are ongoing it’s important to talk with your doctor to eliminate any medical issues that may be impacting your sleep. Depression, anxiety, stimulants as well as some prescribed medications can greatly impact on sleep. A chat with your doctor may be a good place to start to eliminate these potential causes and work towards a good nights rest.

Yours in good health.

Dr George

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