Many of these sleep-eating patients take Ambien, although it's not clear whether this particular drug really is more likely to cause sleep eating, or if it's just that more cases are reported because so many more people take Ambien than any other sleep medications.
For some, the strange side effect is unacceptable: They may gain a significant amount of weight, or worry about operating kitchen appliances while sleeping. For others, like Rebecca Wiseman, 26, of Sumter, S.C., sleep eating happens only occasionallyand it's a small price to pay for the relief that medication can bring.
Relief from hospital-induced insomnia
Wiseman starting taking Ambien while she was in the hospital on bed rest during her second pregnancy. She was grateful for the full eight hours of sleep it got her, and took a pill just about every night for six weeks.
"I was scared; what if something had really gone wrong and I had no memory of it?" says Wiseman. "The doctor told me it was a common occurrence though, so I was a little relieved. And I knew I was constantly being monitored by nurses, so they would know if something happened."
This changed, however, when she left the hospital and returned home with newborn twins. Wiseman's military husband worked long shifts and needed sleep, so she didn't take medication on nights when she had to be up with the babies. But she struggled with so little sleep and looked forward to the two or three nights a week when her husband didn't work the next morning so she could get good rest with Ambien.