The new book “No Easy Day” by former U.S. Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette has attracted a great deal of attention for his first hand account of the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Bissonnette chronicles the drama of the daring operation and the al Qaeda leader’s final moments at his compound in Pakistan. But it also details quieter revelations, including one in which Bissonnette talks about the use by SEALS of the powerful sleep drug Ambien.
Available by prescription, Ambien is known to cause some potentially troubling side effects including sleep walking, hallucinations and amnesia, according to Dr. Thomas LoRusso, the medical director of the Northern Virginia Sleep Diagnostic Center.
According to Bissonnette’s account, between the time the SEALs left the United States for the bin Laden raid in Pakistan and their return flight less than a week later, he took at least six Ambien pills, always two at a time.
“I popped two Ambien. No one was getting any rest without sleeping pills,” Bissonnette wrote in the book, using the pseudonym Mark Owen.
On the day he flew to Pakistan for the high-stakes mission, Bissonnette wrote that he woke up and walked to the mess hall, having to go through a gate with a combination lock.
“My head was still cloudy from the Ambien. Pressing the numbers, I tried the doorknob. No luck,” he wrote.
“It took me three times to get out, but I was finally on my way.”
Important information about Ambien
Ambien may cause a severe allergic reaction. Stop taking Ambien and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Some people using this medicine have engaged in activity such as driving, eating, or making phone calls and later having no memory of the activity. If this happens to you, stop taking Ambien and talk with your doctor about another treatment for your sleep disorder.
Ambien may impair your thinking or reactions. You may still feel sleepy the morning after taking the medication. Wait at least 4 hours or until you are fully awake before you drive, operate machinery, pilot an airplane, or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert. Do not take this medicine if you have consumed alcohol during the day or just before bed.
Ambien may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.
It is dangerous to try and purchase Ambien on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. Medications distributed from Internet sales may contain dangerous ingredients, or may not be distributed by a licensed pharmacy. Samples of zolpidem purchased on the Internet have been found to contain haloperidol (Haldol), a potent antipsychotic drug with dangerous side effects. For more information, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or visit www.fda.gov/buyonlineguide.