Ambien Dosage: Zolpidem Starting And Max Dose

Last Updated: June 30, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Ambien dose strengths can vary between patients and what condition is being treated. Anyone prescribed Ambien pills or other formulas must take care never to consume a larger dose than prescribed. While the medication has long held FDA approval, it can prove deadly when someone takes more than a safe dose of Ambien.

Zolpidem Dosage Forms & Strengths

Zolpidem, like other medications in the Ambien drug class, comes in different forms and strengths. The most common product form to encounter is a tablet, with both zolpidem instant-release (IR) and extended-release (ER) being available in this form. In addition to Ambien pills, there are sublingual options and sprays on the market.

The appearance of the medication, as well as its doses, will vary based on if it is an IR or ER formula. Below are charts outlining the zolpidem doses available for each form of the drug, as well as how to identify the pills should you encounter them.

Ambien Doses

Tablet dosage Color Form Imprint
5 mg Pink Capsule-shape AMB 5 5401
10 mg White Capsule-shape AMB 10 5421

Ambien CR Doses

Tablet dosage Color Form Imprint
6.25 mg Pink Round A~
12.5 mg Blue Round A~

Intermezzo Doses

Tablet dosage Color Form Imprint
1.75mg Yellow Round ZZ
3.5mg Tan Round ZZ

Edluar Doses

Tablet dosage Color Form Imprint
5mg White Round V
10mg White Round X

Zolpimist Doses

Zolpimist is a splay that is available in a clear, colorless, or cherry flavored solution. Each spray delivers 5 mg of zolpidem tartrate. There are spays of 7.7ml and 4.5 ml.

Dosage For Insomnia (Difficulties With Sleep Initiation) In Adults

Adults who struggle to fall asleep are dealing with sleep initiation insomnia. Typically, this is an acute form of the disease, with onset being related to stress, sudden onset pain, or other short-term difficulties. As such, treatment for this form of insomnia is designed to be short-term.

All product forms of zolpidem come in just two strengths, though these strengths vary between medications. In all cases, the maximum dose of Ambien is exactly double the minimum dose. This means that for those who are not getting the proper effects of the medication, there is no titration schedule; patients either start on the minimum dose and have the option to switch to the maximum with doctor supervision, or they start at the zolpidem tartrate max dose and have no option to increase it. Below is a chart outlining zolpidem dosage options for both men and women.

Zolpidem Medication Women Men
Ambien starting dose 5mg 5mg or 10mg
Ambien max dose 10mg per day 10mg per day
Ambien CR starting dose 6.25mg 6.25mg or 12.5 mg
Ambien CR max dose 12.5mg per day 12.5mg per day
Edluar starting dose 5mg 5mg or 10mg
Edluar max dose 10mg per day 10mg per day
Zolpimist starting dose 5mg 5mg or 10mg
Zolpimist max dose 10mg per day 10mg per day

Dosage For Insomnia (Middle-Of-The-Night Awakening) In Adults

Middle of the night awakening is very different from being unable to fall asleep. While it can be just as stressful as disruptive as being unable to fall asleep, medications meant for difficulty with sleep initiation are not suited to this form of insomnia. This is because a normal dose of Ambien is meant to help the patient fall asleep for at least 8 hours.

Intermezzo was developed specifically to treat insomnia that presents as a middle of the night awakening. It comes in two strengths: 1.75mg and 3.5mg. Both men and women should start at 1.75mg taken on an as-needed basis no more than once per day. If this is not effective, they can increase to 3.5mg. This is considered the max dose of Intermezzo.

Ambien Dosing In Special Populations

Any dose of zolpidem is not FDA approved for treatment in children. While there have been limited studies of its use in children as young as 18 months old, there is no guarantee that this is effective or safe.

With geriatric patients, increased sensitivity to zolpidem dosage has been observed, as well as a greater likelihood of being injured while on the medication. As a result, older patients are started on the lowest available dose of zolpidem medications, and most doctors will not increase the dose.

Zolpidem is cleared through the liver. As a result, those with hepatic impairment are unable to remove the drug from their system as quickly as those with fully functioning livers. Patients with hepatic impairment should start on the lowest available dose of Ambien they are taking. Generally, this is where the prescribing doctor will keep them.

How To Take Ambien

There is no one way to administer zolpidem dose. The correct manner will depend on the product form and what type of insomnia is being treated. While there are generally accepted ways of administering zolpidem medications, patients should always defer to the directions their prescribing doctor gives them.

Below is a chart outlining the most common directions for taking medication containing zolpidem.

Product form Administration
Ambien When to take Ambien: Ambien dosage should be taken immediately before bedtime; the user should not have more than 15 minutes between when they take the dose and when they wish to be asleep.
Best way to take Ambien: With plenty of water and with or without food.
Ambien CR When to take Ambien CR: Ambien CR dosage should be taken directly before going to bed, leaving no more than 15 minutes between taking the dose and lying down.
Best way to take Ambien CR: With plenty of water and with or without food.
Edluar When to take Edluar: Zolpidem sublingual tablets should be taken directly before bed, leaving no more than 15 minutes between taking the dose and trying to fall asleep.
Best way to take Edluar: Simply place it under the tongue and let it dissolve.
Intermezzo When to take Intermezzo: Intermezzo dosage should be taken after awakening in the middle of the night if the user is unable to fall back to sleep within 15 minutes, or however long their doctor recommends.
Best way to take Intermezzo: Place a tablet under the tongue and do not swallow it until it wholly melts. Use it without food, as eating could make it harder to fall back asleep.
Zolpimist When to take Zolpimist: Zolpimist dosage should be taken no more than 15 minutes before lying down for bed.
Best way to take Zolpimist: Simply spray the mist according to the directions of the prescribing doctor.

Is It Okay To Take Ambien Every Night?

Zolpidem dose can be taken every night for the short term, as it is not approved to be taken long term. While it is possible that the prescribing doctor will decide that ongoing treatment is right for a given patient, users should not expect this.

Can One Put Ambien Under Their Tongue?

Yes, but only the sublingual versions, called Edluar or Intermezzo. All other forms are meant to be swallowed whole or sprayed.

Can One Take Ambien On A Full Stomach?

There is nothing wrong with taking zolpidem on a full stomach – in theory, at least. The risk is that this may slow down the effects of the drug. Additionally, some people struggle to sleep when their stomach is full.

How Long Should One Take Ambien?

In general, Ambien is meant to be taken for 14 days or less. However, the prescribing doctor may feel it is needed for longer, depending on the circumstances. Users who are directed to take it for more than 14 days need to be aware of the risks of addiction.

Can Ambien Be Crushed Or Cut In Half?

While it isn’t ideal, zolpidem immediate-release formulas can be crushed or cut in half. Extended-release formulas cannot. This is because altering these pills allows too much of the medication to enter the system at once, increasing the risk of complications and overdose.

Lethal Dose Of Ambien

The Ambien LD50 is the dose at which 50 percent of the population is estimated to die from the use of the drug alone. Research has found that the lethal dose of Ambien is 695 mg/kg in male rats, with the exact LD50 for humans unknown. It is important that users understand that this is not the Ambien overdose amount. An overdose can occur when taking much less zolpidem than the LD50, especially when mixed with other substances.

While the greatest risk is to those chasing Ambien euphoria, anyone could potentially overdose on the drug. If a loved one is concerned about abuse, they could ask for an Ambien drug test or counseling for the user.

Ending Ambien Misuse

Zolpidem is a medication with the potential to help many. However, due to its hypnotic effects, many people abuse the drug by taking a larger Ambien dose than is safe. If someone is abusing Ambien, they should seek help from a qualified drug rehabilitation center. The professional staff there can help not only with addiction treatment as such but to solve the corresponding problems such as mental shifts and emotional instability.

Page Sources

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  2. Kang DY, Park S, Rhee CW, et al. Zolpidem use and risk of fracture in elderly insomnia patients. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health. 2012; 45(4): 219‐226. doi:10.3961/jpmph.2012.45.4.219.
  3. AMBIEN® (zolpidem tartrate) tablets, for oral use, C-IV: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC. 2014.
  4. AMBIEN CR® (zolpidem tartrate extended-release) tablets, for oral use, C-IV: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC. 2014.
  5. Edluar (zolpidem tartrate) sublingual tablets, for oral use C-IV: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc. 2013.
  6. Intermezzo® (zolpidem tartrate) sublingual tablets, CIV: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. Transcept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 2011.
  7. Zolpimist (zolpidem tartrate) Oral Spray: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. NovaDel Pharma Inc. 2008.
  8. Ask the doctor: Is it okay to keep on taking Ambien for my sleeping problems? Harvard Health Publishing. 2011.
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Database. Zolpidem, CID=5732,

Published on: June 30th, 2020

Updated on: June 30th, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


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