UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Sleeping Pills

Keywords: zolpidem, benzodiazepines, eszopiclone (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/28/2008 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 10/20/2020)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

Both dealing with the adverse effects from therapeutic administration, like when you order it on the floors or take yourself - to the overdose setting. Here is a brief list of the common sleep aids, MOA and toxicity. (Zolpidem or Ambien gets the award for most entertaining adverse effect of "Sleep Eating")

  • "Unisom": there are multiple formulations, most have diphenhydramine or some derivative. Toxicity is anticholinergic and Na channel blockade in overdose. Be aware that some have doxylamine which causes atraumatic rhabdomyolysis.
  • Zolpidem (Ambien): Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic, with sedation as the primary effect though the reports of hallucinations, "sleep eating" and "sleep coitus" have been made famous.
  • Eszopiclone(Lunesta): Nonbenzodiazepine hyponitic, mechanism of action unknown. Does not require a controlled substance Rx but is expensive. Toxicity: metallic taste next day, minimal toxicity reported.