The Food and Drug Administration has advised that doses of sleeping pills containing zolpidem, such as Sanofi's Ambien, be cut in half for women because we metabolize the drug more slowly than men do. This should reduce cases of Ambien hangover, the grogginess and dopiness that can persist the day after.
The advisory, however, offers no remedy for the sometimes bizarre behavior of zolpidem users during the night. These famously include sleep-eating, of which the drug-taker will have no memory. Side effects can include not only unwanted pounds on the user, but repercussions on other family members. How to explain to a seven-year-old how his Halloween candy disappeared overnight?
Luckily, I have some experience with these issues, and am prepared to step in where the FDA failed to tread. Here are my guidelines for anyone who has a zolpidem user in his or her life:
- Make no definite plans for leftovers. I first caught on to the phenomenon of wee-hour feasting when on several mornings I found chicken bones in the kitchen sink I swore I'd left clean the night before. The kids never liked chicken salad much anyway.
- Nudge your partner or spouse to wear pajamas on the night when the live-in nanny's Indian relatives are due to arrive at the house at 3 a.m. and might go to the kitchen for a glass of water.
- Don't bake the Thanksgiving pecan pie the night before.
- If your daughter is bringing cupcakes to school for her birthday, and there are 22 kids in her class and one teacher, and she wants an extra cupcake for the music teacher, don't bake and ice 24 cupcakes the night before and leave them in the kitchen. Instead, bake and ice the cupcakes, put them in a box and hide the box in a closet.
- Buy only small containers of ice cream.
- If you're staying in a hotel in a strange city, bring your partner's favorite candy bar with you and leave it out as a midnight sleep-snack. This may prevent him or her from leaving the hotel in the middle of the night in search of a chocolate bar and getting lost.
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