Zolpidem is labelled for short-term (usually about two to six weeks) treatment of insomnia at the lowest possible dose. It may be used for both improving sleep onset and staying asleep.
Guidelines from NICE, the European Sleep Research Society, and the American College of Physicians recommend medication for insomnia (including possibly zolpidem) only as a second line treatment after nonpharmacological treatment options (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia). This is based in part on a 2012 review which found that zolpidem’s effectiveness is nearly as much due to psychological effects as to the medication itself.
A lower-dose version (3.5 mg for men and 1.75 mg for women) is given as a tablet under the tongue and used for middle-of-the night awakenings. It can be taken if there are at least 4 hours between the time of administration and when the person must be awake.