One of the worst things about traveling for me is jet lag.  I have a very strong body clock and I have a hard time adjusting to time differences.  When I used to do a lot of international travel with work, I knew I needed to do something to make the jet lag easier.  I spoke with a doctor and he recommended I try Ambien CR, a prescription sleep medicine, to help me sleep.  Taking Ambien for jet lag definitely helped, but it did also cause some issues.

Important: I am not a medical expert and this post is not based on medical research or meant to be medical advice.  I am not suggesting that you take Ambien for jet lag or don’t take it.  You should consult your doctor to make sure the decision is right for you.  I just wanted to share my experience and opinions.

Ambien is one of many prescription drugs that help sleeping disorders.  It helps you fall asleep.  Ambien CR (Controlled Release) has the same active ingredient (Zolpidem) as Ambien but slowly feeds your body the medicine throughout the night to help you stay asleep.  Other prescription sleep medicines to help you sleep include Lunesta, Silenor, Rozerem, Restoril, Halcion, Sonata, and Belsomra.  You should check with your doctor to see which one is best for you.  In my case, my doctor recommended Ambien CR.

Taking Ambien for Jet Lag

When I travel I normally don’t have issues falling asleep, however, I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep.  I would get jet lag after returning home as well.  First, I tried Benadryl to deal with my jet lag.  When that didn’t help, I tried both Ambien and Ambien CR – not at the same time though!

The Ambien label instructs you to not drink alcohol and also to make sure you can devote at least eight hours to sleep before you take it.  I tried my best to make sure I followed those guidelines.  It is a prescription drug, so not something you should take lightly.

The Ambien would begin working fast.  Literally, a few minutes after I would swallow the pill my eyelids would feel so heavy it would be difficult for me to keep them open.  Then, I would sleep so deeply for a solid 7-8 hours.  I would wake up feeling refreshed because I had slept so well.

I have spent a lot of time flying in and out of NY......-"Ambien For Jet Lag: Are the Side Effects Worth It?"- Two Traveling Texans

I have spent lots of time flying in & out of NYC.

Ambien Side Effects

It was not all good though.  Taking sleeping pills for jet lag can have side effects.  Ambien did affect my mind and of course, I didn’t realize it at the time.  The best example of how the medication affected me was when I was in Australia.  The taxi picked us up at the hotel and we put our bags (with computers in them) in the back and headed to the office.  Well, when we arrived at the office, I totally forgot that my computer was in the trunk and went to the office without it.  

I quickly I realized I had forgotten it, but the taxi had already left.  I called our hotel, the Westin Sydney, and they were so helpful.  They went through the security tape, got the taxi information, and contacted the taxi company.  I was so grateful and lucky to get my computer back.  If this had happened somewhere else, it probably would have been lost forever!

There was another time when I only put eyeliner on one eye.  That was awkward.  I am not sure how I didn’t notice it until after I left the hotel.  Again, that is not like me.  Ambien effects my thinking ability!

Note: In my experience, Ambien CR side effects were usually worse than Ambien, but Ambien CR helped me sleep better so I usually chose to take Ambien CR.

Even with a comfy hotel bed, it can be hard to get sleep when you are jet lagged. - "Ambien For Jet Lag: Are the Side Effects Worth It?" - Two Traveling Texans

Even with a comfy hotel bed, it can be hard to get sleep when you are jet lagged.

When I would travel to Asia the time difference could be 12-14 hours! - "Ambien For Jet Lag: Are the Side Effects Worth It?" - Two Traveling Texans

When I would travel to Asia, it would be a 14 hour flight and the time difference could be 12-14 hours!

I have also read that some people taking Ambien have had issues with sleep eating disorder, where they eat during the night and don’t even remember it.  I have heard Ambien horror stories about gaining weight from sleep eating, where no one could figure out where the weight gain came from.  Luckily, as far as I know, I have not any sleep eating issues.

Don’t Take Ambien On a Long Flight

One other danger I should point out is that prescription sleep medicine should not be taken on the plane.  You may think this is the best way to get quality sleep on a flight, but the problem is you should be getting up at least every four hours to stretch.  If you were to sleep a solid eight hours on a plane, you could risk Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).  It is a very serious condition that can be life-threatening. In simple terms, DVT is a blood clot (usually in your leg) that could travel to your lungs.  

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:  EU Flight Compensation Rules Simplified

Do I Still Take Ambien?

Finally, I should point out that I don’t think the Ambien fixed my issue with jetlag.  Yes, I would sleep well when I took the Ambien, but I didn’t want to take it every night.  I didn’t like dealing with Ambien withdrawal.  My first night without Ambien would be rough, typically waking up around 4 am and not being able to go back to sleep.  I felt like taking Ambien for jet lag just postponed the issue.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:  Oversold Flights: Learn from My Story

Sleep is important and I understand that sometimes a prescription drug is the best way to help when you have severe jet lag or another sleeping issue (and there is nothing wrong with that).  While I still travel a lot internationally, I haven’t taken any Ambien for years.    I decided it was better to try other more natural tactics to fall asleep.  I wish I could say I have no more jet lag but I think I have just become better at coping with jet lag.  If only someone would invent a magical jet lag drug!

Have you taken any prescription or over the counter medicines to help you get over the jet lag?  What have your Ambien experiences been like? Do you have another way you have dealt with jet lag?


Pin For Later

Expert Tips When Taking Ambien for Jetlag

  • Consult a doctor before taking Ambien or any prescription medicine for jet lag.
  • Be aware of the possible side effects of Ambien.
  • Do not take Ambien on long flights because you need to make sure you get up periodically to stretch your legs.
  • Be sure to follow the directions on the medicine.  Avoid alcohol and devote 8 hours to sleep.

The Weekly Postcard Linkup

We are happy to co-host the Weekly Postcard Linkup.  Everyone is invited to join us and share their travel blog posts here beginning at 12 p.m. (PST) / 8 p.m. (GMT) Friday, April 7th.  For those of you that have not done a linkup before, please check out our frequently asked questions about the Weekly Postcard.  Feel free to reach out to us if you have other questions.

Happy Travels!

Need a Reminder for the Weekly Postcard?

I know you have a lot on your plate, so let us help you with one important detail.  Sign up to get an email each Friday when the linkup opens, so that you can be one of the first to join.

Two Traveling Texans

Copy This Code To Add the Badge

Note: By clicking the button to join The Weekly Postcard, you accept that your email address will be provided to Anda from Travel Notes and Beyond, our linkup co-host, who may use it to make sure participants follow the rules of the linkup!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we will receive a small commission for some purchases made using links in our blog with no additional cost to you.  Please be assured we would not promote any product unless we believe that our readers will also benefit.  The commission does not influence the editorial content of this site.

Two Traveling Texans is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.