NCBI ROFL: Writing emails as part of sleepwalking after increase in Zolpidem [Ambien].

By ncbi rofl | July 22, 2010 7:00 pm

sleep computer“Sleepwalkers have been described to be involved in complex motor activities like cooking, eating, driving a car, playing an instrument, stabbing and murder [1]. We describe a case of a 44-year-old woman with idiopathic insomnia almost all her life. She tried various medications, psychotherapy and behavioral techniques for the treatment of her insomnia without any significant effects. She was started on Zolpidem 10 mg 4 years ago. She was able to sleep 4–5 h each night, but then the effects started wearing off. She increased the dose of Zolpidem by herself to 15 mg every night; she would take 10 mg tablet around 10 p.m. and 5 mg around 3 a.m. With this regimen she started sleeping for 5 h every night and felt alert during the daytime. After increasing the dose, she began to have episodes of sleepwalking. During one such episode, she went to bed around 10 p.m., she woke up 2 h later, and walked to the next room on the same floor. She turned on the computer and connected to the internet. She logged in by typing her user ID and password to her email account. She sent three emails to her friend inviting her to come over for dinner and drinks (Fig. 1A and B). Her friend called her the next day to accept the invitation. She said that the emails had strange language. The patient was not aware of these emails. She checked her sent folder and found three emails sent at 11:47 p.m., 11:50 p.m. and 11:53 p.m. They were in upper and lower cases, not well formatted and had strange language. She was shocked when she saw these emails, as she did not recall writing them. She did not have any history of night terrors or sleepwalking as a child. Her overnight video polysomnogram did not capture any episode and was normal. She was advised to reduce her dose of Zolpidem; after which she did not have any more episodes of sleepwalking.”

Bonus Figure:

fig 1

Fig. 1. (A) Emails written by patient during an episode of sleepwalking. (B) Emails written by the same patient three minutes after the first e-mail (A) during an episode of sleepwalking.


Photo: flickr/Ingorrr

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  • Chris

    The case mixing looks like the caps lock was on. She shifted the opening ‘c’ which in caps lock mode would shift it down to the lower case. Still, very strange.

  • daffodil

    I can totally relate. I have been taking zolpidem or Lunesta on and off for some time, and I have posted some strange things on Facebook with no recall of it the next day. Fortunately, nothing horribly embarrassing (except spelling and grammar errors, which is not typical for my writing) has been posted, but I do check my account every morning to double check. I live alone now, but my former live-in partner has detailed some interesting conversations I have supposedly had with him which I also do not remember. Thankfully, I have not attempted to drive or operate heavy machinery or tearfully call ex-beaux (at least that I have been made aware of).

  • Jordan

    I’ve been taking Ambien for the last six years and have no shortage of embarrassing stories. I once text messaged an attractive female friend and told her I was going to become a male prostitute. I even gave her my rates.

  • CoffeeCupContrails

    Oh dear. Been there, done that. Done that again. And I’ve only been on Ambien 10mg for a month now. The sleep has been fairly restful, but it has worn off already and I get 5-6 hours myself.

    Anyway, I’ve had mildly exciting hallucinations :
    1. letters on my computer screen clearly being alive as I type emails I’ve regretted the next morning. They dont jump around, but they ‘feel’ alive, like a fly on the window that doesn’t move. Some letters are more pleasant than others.

    2. Talk to myself more loudly and freely.

    3. Have conversations with friends and family completely consciously and seemingly with full awareness of what I’m doing and saying (a bit excitedly), but have NO recollection of it the next morning.

    I can see how the lady would do that. Although I feel she may have been conscious and active while she checked her emails but must, like me, have NO memory of it the next day.

  • Andrea

    My mother-in-law took Ambien for a few years and started noticing weird things when she would wake up; keys in the microwave, shoes moved from the closet to the kitchen table, tuna salad prepared for lunch with no recollection of doing it, etc. She didn’t put two and two together and one night my husband received a phone call from her asking if he wanted apple pie around 11pm when she should have been in bed which he told her to go to sleep, about twenty minutes later he received another phone call from the police that she had driven her truck into a tree a block away from her house. She was still in her night gown and wasn’t injured but she totaled her truck and caused a lot of damage to the tree and took out a fence in the process. To this day she doesn’t recall the accident or the phone call she made to my husband. She also no longer takes Ambien.

  • Ruthie

    Yes I emailed someone at 1 in the morning in Turkey, I only knew to look at my sent messages because he emailed me back that night. That is is scary to me. I can never take that medicine again, I cant trust myself when I sleep. That happens a year ago too, but I went outside!

  • gordon

    Ha, having a flue, I gave my wife an ambien and i went to sleep on the couch. 6 am she was yelling and screaming so I went to see what was wrong. She told me that she s*** the bed.
    After partially removing the covers, yes, indeed, there were dozens of skidmarks going in every direction.
    Something was wrong though. There was no smell. i pulled back the covers fully and found an empty box of chocolate chip cookies. Apparently the chips fell out and melted overnight due to body head. She had no recallection of eating cookies; but she did a good jub cleaning the bathroom.

    She hasnt tried them again.

    [Moderator’s note: edited the cuss word.]

  • Bluzonepc

    wow i never new you could sleep email OMG


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