The report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) looked at ER visits between 2005 and 2012. The number of ER visits related to zolpidem was 6,000 in 2005, and by 2010 that number had reached more than 19,000.
Three quarters of patients were over 45, and two thirds were women.
The FDA-approved medication is also present in Ambien CR, Edluar, and Zolpimist, according to the ScienceDaily. It is used as a short-term treatment for insomnia.
In January 2013, the FDA required manufacturers to cut recommended doses of zolpidem in half for women, following adverse effect complaints. The FDA suggested a similar reduction for men.
In 2010, half of all ER visits involving zolpidem also involved other drugs that enhanced the sedative effects, according to the SAMHSA study.
Side effects of the sleep medication include daytime drowsiness, dizziness, hallucinations, agitation, sleep-walking, and drowsiness while driving, according to the news release.
"Although short-term sleeping medications can help patients, it is exceedingly important that they be carefully used and monitored," said Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA administrator. "Physicians and patients need to be aware of the potential adverse reactions associated with any medication, and work closely together to prevent or quickly address any problems that may arise."