March 8, 2006


Driving under the influence — of sleeping pills: Ambien among top 10 drugs found in impaired drivers (MSNBC, March 8, 2006)

There's a growing hazard on the roadway, the kind of motorist who smashes into parked cars, plows over sidewalks and drives in the wrong direction, all while oblivious to the destruction left behind. These drivers aren't drunk or stoned — they're under the influence of Ambien, the nation's most popular prescription sleeping pill. [...]

In Washington state, for example, officials counted 78 impaired-driving arrests in which Ambien was a factor last year, up from 56 in 2004. Some of Washington's zombie-like drivers said they took the sleeping pill while behind the wheel so that it would kick in by bedtime.

"Wow, that's a really bad idea," said sleep specialist Dr. Brooke Judd, an assistant professor of medicine and psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School.

Say this for The Wife, she's blunt.

Some Sleeping Pill Users Range Far Beyond Bed (STEPHANIE SAUL, 3/08/06, NY Times)

With a tendency to stare zombie-like and run into stationary objects, a new species of impaired motorist is hitting the roads: the Ambien driver.

Ambien, the nation's best-selling prescription sleeping pill, is showing up with regularity as a factor in traffic arrests, sometimes involving drivers who later say they were sleep-driving and have no memory of taking the wheel after taking the drug.

In some state toxicology laboratories Ambien makes the top 10 list of drugs found in impaired drivers. Wisconsin officials identified Ambien in the bloodstreams of 187 arrested drivers from 1999 to 2004.

And as a more people are taking the drug — 26.5 million prescriptions in this country last year — there are signs that Ambien-related driving arrests are on the rise. In Washington State, for example, officials counted 78 impaired-driving arrests in which Ambien was a factor last year, up from 56 in 2004.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 8, 2006 8:36 PM

At least they weren't smoking.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 8, 2006 8:45 PM

Hmmm...wonder how long before the first of the suits against Sanofi-Aventis? This isn't the first of these stories I have seen (I have seen short-term memeory loss reported in the press) which leads me to believe we are in the early momenta-gathering stages of a lawsuit.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at March 8, 2006 8:47 PM

Drug imparment would help explain the politics of this state. And I wonder if the legislature has been getting a free supply.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 8, 2006 9:08 PM

Since she lives with Orrin, "Wow, that's a really bad idea" is a line Brooke gets to practice a lot.

Posted by: Foos at March 8, 2006 9:21 PM

I think Jeff Spicoli said it best:

"Dudes on 'ludes should not drive".

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 8, 2006 9:37 PM

The TV ads do warn you not to take the pills unless you have enough time for a full eight hours of sleep. Whether or not that's a good enough warning to hold off the lawyers at a civil suit trial remains to be seen.

Posted by: John at March 8, 2006 9:42 PM

You made me laugh jdkelly.

I'm told if you take Ambien then force yourself to stay awake you get some weird type of high.

Posted by: Carter at March 8, 2006 9:47 PM

John, It ain't. no one is responsible for their actions.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 8, 2006 9:47 PM

Carter, you could be right, but I'm going to bed.

Good Evening,


Posted by: jdkelly at March 8, 2006 9:52 PM

Insomnia is an highly irritating problem for me -- BroJudd regulars may note I'm always trolling around this site at odd (sleepless) hours.

As for Ambien giving you a high, I recently spoke to an acquaintance who told me he once tried to stay awake after taking a sleeping medicine, just to see what happened. He started getting freaked when the figures on his bedroom poster started talking to each other.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 8, 2006 10:30 PM

Matt - have you tried melatonin?

Posted by: pj at March 8, 2006 10:49 PM


Yep. It works more often than not, but when it doesn't I'm in a real funk the next morning.

To be fair, my insomnia is probably different from the usual type since it seems related to a variant of OCD, in which I have to perform a series of essentially pointless rituals before I can rest easy, and even then I feel the need to get up to check things, etc. It's truly a pain in the neck.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 9, 2006 1:26 AM


I've actually got a surefire cure for that one, which interestingly only works for men. You either pitch against your favorite team or play a round of golf at a course you know well in your head. You won't make it to the third inning or hole.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 7:15 AM


I thought that was the cure for some other problem men sometimes have? Or so I've been told.

Posted by: Rick T. at March 9, 2006 9:12 AM

Believe me, it's useless against male pattern baldness.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 9:17 AM

Matt, for a variation on oj's suggestion, I don't usually have trouble sleeping, but when I do or even when I'm forced to undergo something tedious like dental work or something similar where I can't read or surf, I save some sort of a problem to think through and it greatly relaxes me so I can get to sleep or pass the enforced down time without getting too antsy.

Posted by: erp at March 9, 2006 9:19 AM

workout more, but not near bed time.

Posted by: toe at March 9, 2006 12:51 PM


Thanks for the suggestion. My mind usually has to be completely at ease to get any sleep, though -- playing things in my head may not work.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 9, 2006 3:47 PM


It does. Basically it co-opts your entire mind so you aren't thinking about the stuff that could keep you awake.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 3:54 PM

that journalist from the ny times she is not good at numbers the study she refers to ranked ambien in 19th position, not in tenth

anyway those story are getting funnier and funnier including the one i just found with the paralysed woman that can't walk during the day , but sleep walk to the fridge during the night

Posted by: mark Tuller at March 18, 2006 1:14 PM