Temazepam vs Ambien For Sleep: Comparison of Differences & Uses


It is the generic name of a brand name Restoril, an anti-anxiety drug that belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It works by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain.

GABA is a chemical messenger that nerve cells use to communicate with each other and which inhibits many of the activities of the brain.

It was originally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1981. This medication is produced by a few pharmaceutical companies, including Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.


This medication is typically used for the treatment of short-term sleeping problems associated with difficulty falling asleep, early morning awakenings, or frequent awakenings during the night.


The usual recommended dose is 7.5 to 30 mg orally once per day at bedtime. In seniors, the initial recommended dosage is 7.5 mg, until individual responses are determined.


  • for individuals with short-term insomnia, the treatment should only be used for 7 to 10 days;
  • do not take it more often or less than prescribed by your healthcare professional;
  • follow all your doctor’s directions or the instructions on the prescription label, and ask your healthcare provider to explain any part you do not entirely understand.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • amnesia or forgetfulness;
  • a hangover feeling;
  • depressed mood;
  • day-time drowsiness;
  • feeling excited, nervous, or irritable;
  • headaches;
  • tiredness;
  • increased thirst;
  • stomach discomfort;
  • dizziness;
  • lack of balance or coordination;
  • blurred vision;
  • a dry mouth;
  • feeling nervous;
  • muscle weakness;
  • vomiting;
  • nausea.

Rare side effects may include:

  • weak or shallow breathing;
  • hallucinations;
  • aggression;
  • hostility;
  • thoughts of hurting yourself or suicide;
  • confusion;
  • slurred speech;
  • agitation;
  • body aches;
  • fast or pounding heartbeats;
  • problems with urination;
  • restless muscle movements in the eyes, jaw, mouth, tongue, or neck;
  • depressed mood;
  • fever (high temperature);
  • memory problems;
  • increased anxiety;
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes;
  • clay-colored stools;
  • loss of appetite;
  • stomach pain;
  • unusual weakness;
  • easy bruising or bleeding.


According to clinical studies, this medication is linked to fetal damage, including congenital malformations, when used by pregnant women in their first three months of pregnancy. The current recommendation is to be avoided during pregnancy. In addition, it should be avoided by nursing women.


Drinking alcoholic beverages while taking this medication may increase the risk of experiencing serious side effects.

Moreover, starting in March 2015, it represents an offense to drive a car when having certain drugs (including temazepam) above specified limits in your body.

Drug Interactions

It may interact with the following drugs:

  • risperidone;
  • quetiapine;
  • olanzapine;
  • haloperidol;
  • clozapine;
  • chlorpromazine;
  • hydroxyzine;
  • diphenhydramine;
  • cetirizine;
  • chlorpheniramine.

Similar Benzodiazepines

Other benzodiazepines include:

  • lorazepam (Ativan);
  • flurazepam (Dalmane);
  • clonazepam (Klonopin);
  • alprazolam (Xanax);
  • diazepam (Valium).


It is the brand name of a drug called zolpidem that belongs to a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics.

The medication acts on the brain to produce a calming effect by increasing the activity of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) – a chemical in the human body that causes sleepiness. Increasing GABA activity helps people fall asleep.


This medication is typically used to treat insomnia. The condition causes trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

However, healthcare professionals usually prescribe the medication for 1 to 2 weeks or less since its main ingredient can have some considerable negative side effects.


The usual recommended dose is 5 to 10 mg that is taken orally once per day immediately before bedtime.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • loss of coordination;
  • “drugged” or light-headed feeling;
  • weakness;
  • tired feeling;
  • dizziness;
  • daytime drowsiness;
  • muscle pain;
  • upset stomach;
  • headaches;
  • diarrhea;
  • constipation;
  • nausea;
  • nose or throat irritation;
  • dry mouth;
  • stuffy nose.

Rare side effects may include:

  • trouble breathing;
  • feeling short of breath;
  • problems swallowing;
  • fast or irregular heartbeat;
  • feeling like you might pass out;
  • chest pain.

To make sure that this medication is safe for you, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • liver disease;
  • sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep);
  • kidney disease;
  • myasthenia gravis (a long-term autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles);
  • a lung disease like – bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or emphysema (a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs which mainly causes shortness of breath);
  • a history of alcohol or drug addiction;
  • a history of mental illness, depression, anxiety disorder, or suicidal thoughts.

Drug Interactions

This medication may negatively interact with other drugs. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you take:

  • medications for anxiety;
  • antidepressants like sertraline (Zoloft) and imipramine (Tofranil);
  • drugs for mental illness;
  • Dexmethylphenidate;
  • chlorpromazine (Thorazine);
  • rifampin (an antibiotic that is used to treat tuberculosis, Legionnaire’s disease, and leprosy);
  • antifungal medicines including ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox);
  • sedatives;
  • miralax;
  • elective alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonists (Lumify);
  • allergy medicines;
  • Dulera;
  • cold medicines;
  • Vyvanse;
  • tranquilizers;
  • sleeping pills;
  • medicines for seizures;
  • pain medicines.

Temazepam vs Ambien – Which Is Better For Sleep Problems (Insomnia)?

Temazepam (brand name Restoril) is a benzodiazepine that affects chemicals in the brain which may be unbalanced in sufferers with insomnia.

Ambien (active ingredient – zolpidem) is a sedative that affects chemicals in the brain which may be unbalanced in sufferers with insomnia.

It is unlikely you will become dependent on zolpidem since it is much less likely to be habit-forming than benzodiazepines, like temazepam.

A 2001 study on the effectiveness of these medications concluded that:

  • Impairment of DSST (digit symbol substitution test is a neuropsychological test sensitive to brain dementia, damage, depression, and age) was seen with zolpidem but not temazepam;
  • zolpidem provided greater subjective hypnotic efficacy than temazepam, with reduced polysomnographic awakenings;
  • both medications improved sleep efficiency;
  • zolpidem reduced awakenings and wake after sleep onset.

Image credit – Shutterstock

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