Compare Ambien vs. Ativan

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Ambien
(Zolpidem)

Ativan
(Lorazepam)

Helps you sleep. Ambien (Zolpidem) is good for falling asleep and staying asleep, but it can be habit-forming and might be more likely than other sleep medicines to cause disturbing side effects.Helps you relax. Ativan (Lorazepam) is okay for occasional or short-term use (up to 4 weeks) for anxiety and sleep. Less likely to have drug interactions, but more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms compared to similar drugs.
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Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5.089219330855019Ambien
Reviews for Ambien (Zolpidem)
66%
of people (All ages) say Ambien (Zolpidem) is worth it
50%
say it works well
16%
say it's a big hassle
1345 reviews
Have you used Ambien (Zolpidem)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Ativan (Lorazepam)
70%
+4% vs. Ambien (Zolpidem)
50%
Same vs. Ambien (Zolpidem)
15%
+1% vs. Ambien (Zolpidem)
618 reviews
Have you used Ativan (Lorazepam)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
AmbienAtivan
  • Dizziness 4%
  • Drowsiness 3%
  • Allergy 3%
  • Sinus inflammation 2%
  • Dry mouth 2%
  • Sore throat 2%
  • Diarrhea 2%
  • Lack of energy 2%
  • Lightheadedness 1%
  • Low mood disorder 1%
More Ambien side effects »

The Ativan FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Ativan side effects »
How it works
AmbienAtivan
Ambien (Zolpidem) is in a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics. Researchers don't know exactly how it works, but it interacts with your brain to make you relaxed and sleepy.Ativan (Lorazepam) is a fast-acting benzodiazepine. It affects neurotransmitters in the brain and calms the nervous system. This reduces anxiety and can cause sleepiness.
Type of medication
AmbienAtivan
SedativePrescription only
Anti-anxiety
Benzodiazepine
Prescription only
Available as
AmbienAtivan
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
AmbienAtivan
Risk factors for serious side effects
AmbienAtivan
  • Continuous use for 2 weeks or more
  • Alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Less than 7 hours of sleep
  • Undiagnosed psychiatric conditions
  • Taking with alcohol or drugs
    • Respiratory conditions
    • Liver problems
    • Muscle disease
    • Elderly
    • Higher dose
    • Liver problems
    • Taking Ambien (Zolpidem) with other nervous system depressants
    • Long-term use
    • Women of childbearing age
    • Breast-feeding
    Detailed Ambien (Zolpidem) risks & warnings »
    • Taking more than the prescribed dose
    • Taking longer than 4 weeks
    • History of drug abuse
    • Long-term use
      • Alcohol
      • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
        Detailed Ativan (Lorazepam) risks & warnings »
        Pregnancy

        Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

        Research studies with real people found harmful effects on unborn babies, but the benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

        Interactions
        AmbienAtivan
        No interactions related info.
        • Less likely to have drug interactions compared to other benzodiazepines, so it might be a better option if you're taking multiple medications.
        Alcohol
        AmbienAtivan
        • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
        • Can be habit-forming, so it's not typically used for long-term treatment, or for people who've had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
        • Not safe to use with alcohol.
        Kidneys and liver
        AmbienAtivan
        • Might not be safe if you have problems with your liver, kidneys, or lungs, or if you have a history of depression.
        No kidneys and liver related info.
        Sleep
        AmbienAtivan
        • Effective at helping people fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
        • Only take it if you have time to sleep for at least 7 hours.
        • Can cause headache, drowsiness, and dizziness.
        • Ambien (Zolpidem) make you feel drowsy and sleepy, leading to falls and severe injuries. This is especially a risk if your older. Falls from sleep medicines like Ambien (Zolpidem) have caused severe injuries such as hip fractures and head injury. You may need a lower dose if you're taking other medicine that affects your nervous system or have issues with falls in the past. Check with your doctor first.
        • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
        • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
        Upsides and benefits
        AmbienAtivan
        • Effective at helping people fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
        • Extended release form is particularly good for staying asleep, and you can use it for longer than the immediate release form.
        • Effective at relieving short-term anxiety and sleeplessness.
        • Can be used together with antidepressants to manage anxiety disorders. Especially helpful for anxiety symptoms while you wait for an antidepressant to kick in (it can take several weeks).
        • Less likely to have drug interactions compared to other benzodiazepines, so it might be a better option if you're taking multiple medications.
        Downsides and risks
        AmbienAtivan
        • Not typically used for long-term treatment because it can be habit-forming.
        • Some people find that it's less effective over time.
        • More likely to cause sleep-walking, sleep-driving, and sleep-eating.
        • Might not be safe if you have problems with your liver, kidneys, or lungs, or if you have a history of depression.
        • It's easy to become reliant on sleep medicines. In the long run, it's better to learn good sleeping habits and behavior so that you can sleep better naturally.
        • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
        • Can be habit-forming, so it's not typically used for long-term treatment, or for people who've had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
        • Compared to other benzodiazepines, more likely to cause withdrawal if you take it for a long time and then stop suddenly.
        • Most people find that it gets less effective over time.
        Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
        AmbienAtivan
        • Take 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.
        • Only take it if you have time to sleep for at least 7 hours.
        • Very addictive. Meant for short-term treatment. Dependence can form after daily use for 2 weeks.
        • Can cause headache, drowsiness, and dizziness.
        • Can cause sleep-walking, sleep-driving, and sleep-eating.
        • Works best if taken without food.
        • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
        • Withdrawal symptoms usually resolve in 1 to 2 nights.
        • Report any confusion or changes in thoughts or behavior.
        • Good for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.
        • Starts working in 45 minutes when swallowed.
        • Starts working in 10 to 20 minutes when dissolved under your tongue.
        • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
        • Addictive. Long-term use can cause dependence or abuse.
        • Not safe to use with alcohol.
        Learn more
        More about AmbienSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
        Have you used Ambien (Zolpidem)?
        Worth itNot sureNot worth it
        More about AtivanSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
        Have you used Ativan (Lorazepam)?
        Worth itNot sureNot worth it