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FDA releases new guidelines for popular sleeping aid pill

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After complaints of morning drowsiness and even several car accidents, the Food and Drug Administration is placing new guidelines on a popular sleeping aid - Ambien and its successors.

The recommendations released Friday state that women, specifically, should only take half the dose of Ambien that's normally prescribed. But after one woman's experience with the drug, she say's she's not just cutting back, she'll never take it again.

Friday, she looked back at pictures and 31-year-old Katrina Prigmore was able to laugh about the first and only time she took Ambien. But the night she took it two years ago, it wasn't funny.

"My husband said I woke him up at 3 o'clock in the morning showing him my hair and apparently I had cut it off myself," said Prigmore. "Don't remember anything. I was freaking out the next morning when I woke up, hair all over my bathroom and my hair was from here and it was like up here."

Although extreme side effects like Prigmore's aren't common when taking Ambien, leftover morning drowsiness is, particularly in women.

"The metabolism of any drug including alcohol is different in men and women," said Dr. Bharat Khandheria, an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. "And if your metabolism is slow, especially in women, then maybe a lot of the drug will be leftover in the morning."

Side effects that have been compared to driving drunk.

"The sleep aids work in a similar fashion to the way alcohol works on the brain," added Dr. Khandheria. "And each one of them of course impairs your driving performance."

So the FDA recommends cutting that dose from 10 down to 5 milligrams for women. But Prigmore feels that's not enough.

"They need to cut it more than that, because I was pretty out of it."

Because even though she didn't hurt anyone or herself, Ambien forced Katrina to grow her hair and trust for prescription sleep aids.

"I just stick to Benadryl nowadays," laughed Prigmore.

Doctors say automatic behaviors during sleep while taking Ambien have also been reported as side effects, the most common of which is eating.

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