Rainbow at shoreline

The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association, a 501(c)3 founded in 1985, exists to meet the needs of patients with CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) or FM (Fibromyalgia), their families and loved ones. The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association works to educate health-care providers and the general public regarding these severely-disabling physical illnesses. We also support patients and their families and advocate for more effective treatment and research.

Zolpidem (Ambien) is often used in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) or Fibromyalgia (FM) to help patients fall asleep or stay asleep. It belongs to a class of medications called sedative-hypnotics and works by adjusting the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Some patients experience nocturnal awakenings when using this sleep medication.

The University of Colorado at Boulder evaluated the level of cognitive impairment and walking difficulties during these episodes in a study, "Influence of zolpidem and sleep inertia on balance and cognition during nighttime awakening: A randomized placebo-controlled trial", published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2011.

Study participants consisted of both young and elderly healthy adults, some of whom were given 5 milligrams of zolpidem and others received a placebo. After sleeping for two hours, they were awakened and tested for balance and cognitive changes.

Unsteady walking, difficulties in maintaining balance, and cognitive impairments were found in 27% of the young adults, but in as much as 58% of the older participants who had taken is zolpidem. This study further shows how older adults may be at a greater risk of injury and accidental falls while under the effects of zolpidem.

An article reviewing study results, including potential health and safety issues, is available at the ProHealth library, Widely Used Sleep Drug Significantly Impairs Waking Balance, Coordination, Cognition.

Notice about names

The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association would like to clarify the use of the various acronyms for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and  Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) on this site. When we generate our own articles on the illness, we will refer to it as ME/CFS, the term now generally used in the United States. When we are reporting on someone else’s report, we will use the term they use. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are currently using ME/CFS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are calling the illness CFS.

Until there is consensus on a name for the illness, the Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association name will not change.