Jack Nicholson: “Sleep Drug Ambien Almost Killed Me”

Jack Nicholson once narrowly escaped death while taking the same sleeping pills reportedly prescribed to tragic actor Heath LedgerThe Shining star, 70, admits he tried the sleeping aid Ambien on one occasion several years ago – but was left so shaken by his experience he has been warding pals off the drug ever since.

Above: Actor Jack Nicholson in the film “The Shining.” He likes to tell people the story of his own horror with the sleeping pill Ambien.

He says, “I warn people about Ambien. I almost drove off a cliff once. I don’t take sleeping pills but somebody said, ‘Take this, it’s mild’. I got a call in the middle of the night, kind of an emergency, and I almost drove off a cliff 50 yards from my house, and I live up in the mountains in Aspen (Colorado). So I warn people about it. But I also did not know Mr. Ledger.”

Heath Ledger died on 22 January 2008. He was 28.  The coroner said he died of a  “toxic combination of prescription drugs.” Guess which?

Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription medications including painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills, the New York City medical examiner’s office said Wednesday.

“Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine,” the office said in a short statement.

“We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications.”

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are painkillers. Diazepam is an anti-anxiety drug commonly sold under the brand name Valium; alprazolam is also an anti-anxiety drug sold under such names as Valium; alprazolam, can be obtained over the counter as a sleep aid.

Ambien is a brand name for zolpidem drug, which we will discuss the ambien side effects. A prescription medication, it is used to treat sleep disorders such as insomnia. Ambien is also prescribed for some brain disorders such as prolonged afflictions of consciousness. Ambien is classified with a group of medications called sedative-hypnotics. In low doses, the drug slows brain activity and allows it to fall asleep. In high doses, the drug often has the opposite effect and has been known to pull people in a vegetative state to consciousness. The use of Ambien for brain disorders is still under study. In this article we will review the ambien side effects.

People with sleeping problems are advised to only take Ambien once per day to treat insomnia. Recommended Ambien dosage is usually one 10 mg tablet right before bedtime. If Ambien is taken right after a meal, its effects may be slowed by digestion. It is recommended that to treat sleep problems, the Ambien dosage should not exceed 10 mg per day. Anyone who suffers from any form of hepatic insufficiency will not successfully clear the drug from their system as rapidly as a normal person. It is recommended that such people not exceed 5 mg per day. Elderly or debilitated patients suffering from a sleep disorder often exhibit a low tolerance for Ambien and should be started on a low dose.

Overtime, the dosage of Ambien might need adjusted as the person builds up a dependency. When Ambien is used with other CNS depressant drugs it can become potentially addictive.
Ambien side effects Sleeping problems usually improve 7 to 10 days after starting Ambien. If sleep disorders do not improve after taking Ambien, a patient should consult with a physician. Patients should not take Ambien for longer than two weeks or a dependency may develop. With extended use, the patient may build up a resistance. The patient may also go through unpleasant side effects if the drug is suddenly stopped after prolonged use. After an addiction develops, side effects of Ambien withdrawal include: shakiness, stomach cramps, nausea, muscle cramps, excessive crying, lightheadedness, mood swings, panic attacks, difficulty falling asleep, a feeling of tiredness, sweating, vomiting, excessive crying and seizures.

A potent sedative, side effects of Ambien do exist. Ask Jack Nicholson. Sadly, we cannot ask Heath Ledger.


Above: Heath Ledger’s family plot. Heath’s ashes were scatter here as well as his family with markers. Heath’s headstone marker will be set here we are told.


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One Response to “Jack Nicholson: “Sleep Drug Ambien Almost Killed Me””

  1. Elon Musk Sleep habits Says:

    […] towards sleep. This is the same medication that shared blame in Heath Ledger‘s death in 2008. Jack Nicholson similarly warned against Ambien use after he nearly drove off a cliff while trying the drug out. […]

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