Nocturnal Sleep Eating: A Newly Described Ambien Side Effect

Nocturnal eating -- literally eating while still asleep -- could be a side effect of the sleep medication Ambien.

Salt Sandwiches

The sleep eating can include bizarre foods such as buttered cigarettes, salt sandwiches, and raw bacon.

It can also cause people to gain weight; one woman gained over 100 pounds while on Ambien. Others have cut themselves while trying to chop up food in their sleep.

Ambien, which is made by Sanofi-Aventis, made over $2 billion last year, with more than 26 million prescriptions written for it.

Signs of Sleep Eating

The percentage of people who suffer from the sleep eating side effect is unknown. Signs of sleep eating can include empty food wrappers by the bed, missing food, unexplained weight gain, and the taste of food in your mouth upon waking.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Americans are taking more sleeping pills than ever.  Those that are using Ambien may be taking to the road while they're asleep. Not only do patients drive in their sleep thanks to this potentially harmful drug, they can eat food too, and, in some cases, quite a lot of it.

This drug has single handedly created a brand new disease, sleep-eating. Somewhat similar to the side effect for the drugs used for Parkinson's disease, which can cause people to gamble away their life savings.

Sadly, the woman who gained more than 100 pounds since she started her drug regimen is still taking Ambien; but now, she's also taking a second absolutely unnecessary medication to curb those Ambien-induced urges.

Quality, natural sleep is an essential element of my Total Health Program. But if you're having problems sleeping, don't take a dangerous drug. I urge you to try my 29 proven solutions, which include:

  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), my current favorite for insomnia. Most people can learn this gentle tapping technique in several minutes. EFT can help balance your body's bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to the insomnia at a very deep level.


  • Listen to White Noise or Relaxation CDs. An excellent relaxation/meditation option to listen to before bed is the Insight audio CD.


  • Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. These will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep.


  • Sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible. If there is even the tiniest bit of light in the room it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin.


  • Get to bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly the adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into the liver.


  • Avoid caffeine. A recent study showed that in some people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently and therefore they can feel the effects long after consuming it. So an afternoon cup of coffee (or even tea) will keep some people from falling asleep.


  • Lose weight. Being overweight can increase the risk of sleep apnea, which will prevent a restful night's sleep.



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