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Medicina (Buenos Aires)

Print version ISSN 0025-7680


VALIENSI, Stella Maris et al. Sleep related eating disorders as a side effect of zolpidem. Medicina (B. Aires) [online]. 2010, vol.70, n.3, pp.223-226. ISSN 0025-7680.

Zolpidem is a hypnotic drug used in sleep disorders. It binds selectively to alpha 1 subunit of the GABA A benzodiazepine receptor. Zolpidem reduces sleep latency, number of arousals and increases the total time of sleep. However, it is considered that it may increase phase 3 of non rapid eye movement sleep, where somnambulism can take place. Our aim is to report 8 cases of sleep related eating disorders associated with the use of this drug. We have evaluated the medical history of 8 patients who had received zolpidem for sleeping disorders and who have presented sleep related eating disorders. Eight patients (6 women, 2 men) aged between 32 to 72 years old, which received 10 mg of zolpidem/night except 1 that received 12.5 mg, were presented. They have referred strange eating behavior compatible to sleep related eating disorder. Symptoms appeared at a mean of 39.8 days after starting the medication. The numbers of nocturnal episodes recorded by the family or by the patient were 1 to 8 episodes of nocturnal eating per night. The morning after, patients found leftovers from the night before which they did not recall to have eaten. The remission was complete after discontinuing zolpidem. Zolpidem may induce sleep related eating disorder in about 1% of patients, although we consider there may be a subdiagnosis of this phenomenon. It will be important to bear in mind and look for this side effect because all the episodes could easily be controlled by withdrawing the drug.

Keywords : Zolpidem; Somnambulism; Amnesia; Eating disorder.

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