Why Driving and Sleep Drugs Don't Mix

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Patients should also exercise caution to obtain at least the recommended amount of sleep – 7 to 8 hours – after taking sleeping pills. Any less sleep, and patients may exhibit the types of impairment that are common to sleepy drivers: poor or slow coordination, nystagmus (rapid back and forth eye movement), lack of balance, poor performance on sobriety tests, slow or slurred speech, muscle flaccidity, impaired vision, drowsy, tired, confused, disoriented appearance, and short term memory loss.

ABC News' Stark had been a great example of what happens after taking a sleep medication and driving. After three drives, she reviewed her experience, recounting her memory of two of her drives while on the medication.

"But you actually had three drives while you were on the Ambien," simulator research director Chrysler told her.

"I had three drives?" she asks. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," Chrysler confirms. "You were so asleep when we stopped that we had to wake you up in the driver's seat to get you out of the car."

"Well, I don't remember that many drives," says Stark. "I don't remember that many drives so clearly. One of them at least is a blur."

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