Can sleeping pills make you fat? A dieter’s nightmare.

Imagine trying a sleeping pill. Oh, let’s say we call that drug something quirky and scientic-sounding like, zolpidem.  Now imagine that the drug does more then help  you feel less anxious as you fall asleep. Like maybe it turns into a hypnotist  hypnotic that causes you to forget the things you do after you take it.

Rob found out what that’s REALLY like. He’s a 35 year-old Army Captain and  he’s on the “fat boy” program because he’s overweight by military standards. He works out daily,  combining weight training with cardio. He’s following a “juicing-only” diet so he can lose the 25 pounds required for him to remain on active duty. He’s worried he’ll fail to lose the weight fast enough.

Rob has responsibility over 200 soldiers. His company is deploying and he’s panicked. Things are building up: weight, paperwork, people problems, and coworkers trying to push him out of the way to get to the top. His boss  doesn’t want to hear anything but, “yes, sir”/”no sir.” He’s not getting the rest he needs to stay sharp.

He drags himself into my office.

Rob: “I need something for sleep.”

Me:  How ’bout if we start by trying to figure out what’s causing your sleep problem?

Rob: That’ll work.

Me: Do you stop caffeine at least  4 – 6 hours before bedtime?

Rob: Pretty much.

Me: Do you smoke, chew nicotine, or take any medicines before bedtime?

Rob: Nope.

Me: Do you avoid exercising before bedtime?

Rob: Are you kidding? My workout starts at 0400 every morning!

Me: Do you have a “wind-down” ritual at least an hour before bed?

Rob: You mean like howling at the moon or sacrificing a goat? …Okay, okay… I read sometimes, but no, I don’t have a ritual.

Me: Do you nap during the day?

Rob: Bursts out laughing.

————-I tell myself that’s a “no” answer.

Me: Do you wake-up at about the same time each morning?

Rob: Did you hear me when I said I workout every morning at 0400?

Me: Even weekends?

Rob: Okay, you got me there. I try to sleep in on the weekends. But cut me some slack. You don’t really expect me to sleep about an hour a night during the week and then get up when I don’t have to on the weekends, do you?

Me: Do you only go to bed when you’re sleepy?

Rob: If I did that, I’d be going to bed when my alarm goes off in the morning. Then I’d be court-martialed or fired–I mean by a firing squad. C’mon, can we lighten this up and get to the part where you give me something to sleep?

Me: Do you watch TV, listen to the radio, eat, or read in your bedroom?

Rob: Yeah, I watch Netflix in bed before I go to sleep. I already told you I read. But I don’t eat. I don’t like crumbs in my bed. So can you help me ?

Rob and I talked about ways to help him get to sleep like sleep restriction, getting up at the same time each day and not drinking alcohol at bedtime, even on weekends. He tried everything but was getting more and more desperate for sleep each time he came back to see me.  He came in one day with dark circles under his eyes, and really dragging. He was barely able to track what I was saying.

That’s when I decided to prescribe a 3-night supply of ambien (zolpidem).  I gave him my typical lecture on side effects, and my “don’t take this while driving or operating heavy machinery speech.” He heard me, but his eyes were locked on to the prescription more than anything.

He left my office with a smile, “Thanks Doc!”

Next thing I know, I’m getting a phone call.

Hey doc, you won’t believe this. I woke up hugging a bag of Doritos this morning. No joke! And that’s not all. Remember how I told you I don’t like crumbs in my bed? Well I was swimming in ’em this morning. There were potato chip bags, and nacho chip crumbs all over me. I had gotten the stuff for a party this weekend but I broke into all of it last night. What the heck is up with that?  It’s gotta be that sleeping pill you gave me.”


Me: Do you recall our talk about how that drug is called a hypnotic, and how it’s kind of like the date rape drug, rohypnol, because people can forget what they do after they take it?

Rob: Yeah, I remember. You said that’s why I should go to bed right after I take it to avoid any problems. And I did! I promise!!

I kind’a remember getting up and eating something, but it was like a dream–not like I was really there.  I probably put on 5 pounds in one night.

So you think it’s the Ambien…that disinhibition thing? Geez, I can’t afford to stuff myself at nighttime. It’s hard enough to control what I eat during the day. Now I have to worry about binging after I go to bed? No way.  Consider this a one-night stand between me and ambien!

You might think Rob is unique. He’s NOT. It’s a common phenomenon, this hypnotic binge eating.

After his “one-night stand” with ambien, he got more serious about targeting the reasons for his insomnia. He discovered his competitive nature was keeping him up at night.  He pushed forward  to promote sleep.  He worked at these tried-and-true techniques and won his sleep back!

  • reducing stress and anxiety  practicing relaxation before bed.
  • taking a warm bath before bed
  • regularly dimming the lights in his house  before bed (it stimulates melatonin, the sleep hormone)
  • listening to relaxing music–like Liquid Mindoccasionally, he takes a  melatonin tablet, 5 mg. to help him sleep naturally
    • watch this video for a safe Liquid Mind hypnotic experience!

Don’t get me wrong, taking medicine for sleep on occasion isn’t a bad thing. But there is always a chance you’re taking with any drug you put into your body.

@@@@@@@  Remind me later to tell you my story about how I hypnotically opened and co-signed  a credit card account for my son after taking Ambien–He was 14 at the time!

If all else fails:

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.” ~Dale Carnegie

Take our mini-quiz to see if Competitions is killing your sleep.  Our quiz may not be a hypnotic or empirically validated but it will give you some ideas that might help you get more sleep.

Do you have any Binge-Eating Ambien or other hypnotic stories?






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