The FDA has issued a warning for popular sleep drugs - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

The FDA has issued a warning for popular sleep drugs

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The Food and Drug Administration has issued a new warning about popular sleep drugs after studies show they don't leave your system as quickly as previously thought.
New data from driving simulations and blood tests show some sleep drugs like Ambien, Edluar and Zolpimist can still be active the morning after use, and driving could be impaired.

"The FDA advised that current manufactures of sleeping pills, particularly Ambien or Zolpidem, should reduce their dose," says Dr. Kingman Strohl, director of the Sleep Disorders Research center at U.H. Case Medical Center.

The recommendation is to cut dosages by one-half for female patients who metabolize the drug much slower than men.
"They found that current medication levels were a little high to impair driving risk in the morning," Dr. Strohl explains.  

Researchers at Ohio University have used a driving simulator to study the issue.

"It's actually just as bad as drinking and driving," says Dr. Deborah McAvoy.

There have been several driving incidents associated with the effects of sleeping pills.

Kerry Kennedy had Ambien in her system after an accident, as did her cousin Congressman Patrick Kennedy when he crashed into a concrete barrier in 2006.
After mixing alcohol and Ambien a woman in Texas said she had no memory of running over a mom and her two young girls, and in Illinois, 12 hours after he took four Ambien a driver crashed into a construction site, killing one and injuring three others.

Doctors stress the new fda requirements should serve as a wake-up call for patients.

"People should, if they take these medications, should kind of know in their own mind what the drowsiness effect is and how long it affects," says Dr. Strohl.