Acute effects of zolpidem extended-release on cognitive performance and sleep in healthy males after repeated nightly use

Bethea A. Kleykamp, Roland R. Griffiths, Una D. McCann, Michael T. Smith, Miriam Mintzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The extended-release formulation of zolpidem (Ambien CR) is approved for the treatment of insomnia without a treatment duration limit. Acutely zolpidem impairs performance, and no research to date has examined whether tolerance develops to these performance impairments during nighttime awakening. The present double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined whether tolerance develops to zolpidem-induced acute performance impairment after repeated (22-30 days) nightly use. Effects of bedtime administration of zolpidem extended-release (ZOL; 12.5 mg) were tested on a battery of performance measures assessed during a forced nighttime awakening in 15 healthy male volunteers who completed overnight polysomnographic recording sessions in our laboratory at baseline and after approximately a month of at-home ZOL. As expected, bedtime ZOL administration was associated with changes in sleep architecture and impairments across all performance domains during nighttime testing (psychomotor function, attention, working memory, episodic memory, metacognition) with no residual next morning impairment. Tolerance did not develop to the observed ZOL-related impairments on any outcome. Possible evidence of acute abstinence effects after discontinuation of ZOL was observed on some performance and sleep outcomes. Overall, these findings suggest that performance is significantly impaired during nighttime awakening even after a month of nightly ZOL administration, and these impairments could significantly impact safety should nighttime awakening require unimpaired functioning (e.g., driving; combat-related activities in the military).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-39
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental and clinical psychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Ambien
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive performance
  • Extended-release
  • Memory
  • Psychomotor
  • Sleep
  • Tolerance
  • Zolpidem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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