Reports that the prescription sleeping pill Ambien causes such side effects as “sleep eating” began surfacing last year, with some patients reportedly gaining as much as 100 pounds during their Ambien use. Since that time, a whole new group of side effects for prescription sleep aids led the FDA to announce new requirements on labels for these sleeping medications.
The side effects, which could be called “sleep doing,” include driving, eating, making phone calls, and even having sex while sleeping. The person wakes up the next morning with absolutely no memory of what they were up to during the night, but they may find signs that something is amiss. People have reported finding food wrappers strewn around the bed or messes in other parts of the house.
The danger in “sleep doing” is obvious. Sleep eating can lead to severe weight gain or injury as an individual chops or even cooks the food in their sleep. Sleep driving can lead to car accidents, and making phone calls while sleeping can cause confusion or even disrupt a relationship.
As a result, the FDA is requiring that a number of prescription sleep medications warn consumers about the possibility of these side effects. Drugs included in the FDA labeling recommendation are Lunesta and Ambien as well as 11 other drugs.
While these side effects are potentially serious, they are still extremely rare. Sleep eating has been reported less than 1,000 out of 26 billion uses, which means that, while it’s something to look out for, it’s certainly not the norm. The FDA is calling for sleep medication manufacturers to study the incidence of these side effects further to determine the precise rate at which they occur and whether or not certain medications cause “sleep doing” more often than others.