DENVER -- The popular sleeping pill Ambien is being linked to a trial involving a member of the famous Kennedy family.
Kerry Kennedy is the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and ex-wife of New York governor Andrew Cuomo. She is accused of driving while intoxicated.
Police say Kennedy hit a tractor trailer then ran off the road, driving on a bare rim at one point.
Police found Kennedy slumped over the wheel passed out. She later failed three sobriety tests.
Kennedy says she mixed up her medications and accidentally took Ambien that morning. Blood tests confirm the drug was in her system, police said.
It’s important to note that millions of people take Ambien without any problems whatsoever. Still, some report that the sleeping pill can have bizarre side effects.
Medical experts also say women can be more susceptible to becoming dependent on sleeping pills in general.
Women can have more hectic lifestyles that involve taking care of children, keeping the home organized and holding down career responsibilities. Stress can lead to insomnia and many turn to sleeping pills as a remedy.
“Society does not reward sleep at all," said Dr. Neale Lange of St. Anthony’s Sleep Disorder Center. "When was the last time you arrived at work and said ‘I'm sorry I'm late I slept in’ and your boss said ‘well done’?”
Ambien can be amazingly effective and have no side effects, but Lakewood resident Vianney Solis started to develop problems with the drug after several months.
“My husband woke up and said ‘Vianney you got up in the middle of the night and were talking,'" Solis said. "In the night I would wake up and would see myself in the middle of the kitchen and be like, 'Wow. How did I get here?'”
Lange said any sleep aid (not just Ambien) can have negative effects on certain patients.
“You still may wake up underneath the effects of these medications but have no recollection or understanding or insight,” Lange said.
Solis decided to stop taking Ambien (or any prescription sleep aid) and is now taking the natural sleep supplement melatonin.
Sleeping pills are designed to let your brain take a break from sifting through an enormous amount of information each day, but doctors say using any sleep aid for more than seven to 14 days can open the door to addiction.
“Once the brain has adapted to the presence of (the sleep aid) removing it leads to something called rebound insomnia, that's good for drug companies, not good for patients,” Lange said.
The solution doesn't begin in the medicine cabinet, but in the bedroom. To prevent developing a worse case of insomnia, get rid of the usual culprits that ward off sleep which include watching television or even reading in bed and using a laptop or tablet.
Lange said you should try to sleep naturally each night, even though you have sleeping pills nearby.
“Say ‘I'm going to fall asleep by myself if I can't fall asleep within some time period (I’ll) take the Ambien," Lange said.
Closely monitor your use of sleeping pills. If you find that even when you're exhausted, you just can't zone out, it's a sign that you should talk to your doctor.
Solis is back on the right track and says it’s important for moms to take time for themselves before ending up in a miserable cycle that’s not healthy for anyone.
"In order to have healthy kids you have to have a healthy mom and that means not only eating right but that starts with sleep," Solis said.
For more information about getting a good night’s sleep you can visit http://www.stanthonyhosp.org/sleep-doctor and http://www.stanthonyhosp.org/sleep-disorder . For information about sleeping pill safety you can visit http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/sleeping-pill-safety-10-dos-and-donts