Could the sleep medication have prompted Barr to tweet racist sentiments? “It seems unlikely that Ambien is the full culprit here,” said Els van der Helm, founder of the sleep consultancy Shleep, via email. “Although it can make you act more impulsive/disinhibited.”
People on Ambien have been known to sleep-walk or even sleep-eat. (“We’ve had people eat buttered cigarettes,” Mark Mahowald, of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, told News.com.au. “We’ve had people make salt sandwiches.”) There’s an entire sub-Reddit devoted to Ambien and the wacky texts and emails people sometimes write while on it. One guy even claims to have unconsciously built a cabinet in the middle of the night. Rarely, Van Der Helm says, people might experience mood changes or aggression.
Indeed, the medication guide for Ambien lists rare side effects like “getting out of bed while not being fully awake and do[ing] an activity that you do not know you are doing” and “abnormal thoughts and behavior … more outgoing or aggressive behavior than normal, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, worsening of depression, and suicidal thoughts or actions.”