Around 10 percent of users experience headaches, dizziness, and drowsiness, and between 1 and 4 percent report weird psychiatric effects, including hallucination and disorientation. An even smaller amount, less than 1 percent, report abnormal or aggressive behavior. Then there are the sleep walkers and talkers. According to an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, unconscious Ambien users have been known to engage in “sleep driving, sleep cooking, sleep eating, sleep conversations, and, rarely, sleep sex” with no memory of the activity the following day. Such behaviors are also creating a number of legal side effects, with people claiming “the pill made me do it” or “I was asleep” as a defense (it’s not clear which Barr is trying to invoke).
Some people can’t remember the things they do while on Ambien, but many others do recall their time under its effects. An “Ambien trip” has become the popular term for the trippy, buzzy sensation the drug induces if the user stays awake—accidentally or otherwise. Depending on who you ask, tripping on Ambien can induce a “pleasant little buzz;” a feeling of drunkenness; reduced anxiety and inhibitions; hallucinations, “crazy ass visuals,” and seeing movement in the corner of your vision; auditory distortion, “especially of repetitive (trains, fans) sounds;” a body high that is “a mix between Xanax and DXM;” and, to use a medical term, a “mindfuck.”