Patient age and response to zolpidem can influence the appropriate dose for this insomnia medication. The drug is a sedative, intended for temporary relief of sleeplessness. A doctor may recommend other measures in addition to zolpidem for a patient with insomnia, to address the underlying cause as well as the immediate symptoms. Policies concerning this medication vary, but some doctors may be reluctant to refill prescriptions because of concerns about the risks of addiction and other complications associated with long term use.
Five and ten milligram tablets of zolpidem are available. Patients may start with the lower dose to determine if they respond to the medication. They should be able to get to sleep more easily and stay asleep for the whole night. In cases where patients don't experience these benefits, they can transition to the higher ten milligram zolpidem dose. Higher doses carry an increased risk of side effects.
Issues like sleepwalking, intense dreams, or sleep driving can occur in patients on zolpidem. Some patients experience blackouts, where they engage in activity after taking the drug but do not remember. The higher dose, the greater the risk of these symptoms, some of which can be extremely dangerous. Some patients have a low tolerance for the drug and may not be able to take it safely at any dose. It is important for patients to report side effects to a doctor to assess whether the medication is appropriate.
Other factors that can influence zolpidem dose decisions can include the patient's overall health. Patients with liver damage are more susceptible to dangerous side effects because the medication can build up in their bodies. Likewise, older adults can be at risk of complications and may need a lower zolpidem dose. In patients who have taken the medication for more than several weeks, a doctor may have concerns about drug tolerance and addiction, and could recommend cutting the dose to wean from the medication.
Manufacturers do not recommend a zolpidem dose of higher than ten milligrams a day. If patients continue to experience sleep problems at the higher zolpidem dose, they may have a more serious health condition, or this medication might not work for them. Other drugs are available to explore the possibility of switching medications to resolve the sleep problem. The patient could also benefit from a sleep study to find out more about the origins of the insomnia and determine which other treatments might be appropriate.