Restoril vs Ambien: What is the Difference?

restoril vs ambien

Everyone has experienced one night of not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. These nights can be extremely distressing, especially if you have something important to do the next day. However, some individuals have a hard time falling asleep more often than not.

People who consistently have a hard time falling or staying asleep might be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is a mental health condition characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep most nights out of the week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “In 2020, 14.5% of adults had trouble falling asleep most days or every day in the past 30 days.”[1]

If you have a hard time sleeping, your doctor might prescribe sleeping pills such as Restoril or Ambien.

What is Restoril?

Restoril is the brand name for a benzodiazepine medication called temazepam.[2] This substance is only intended to be used on a short-term basis to treat insomnia. By slowing down activity in your brain, Restoril can help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Because Restoril is intended to help you remain asleep throughout the night, you must only take it when you can stay in bed for 7 to 8 hours, so you must take it early enough to get 8 hours of sleep.

Restoril is only intended for short-term use because it is possible to become addicted to the medication. If you are prescribed Restoril, you should only take it as prescribed by your doctor.

Side Effects of Restoril

Like any medication, there are some side effects associated with Restoril that you should be aware of. If these side effects do not subside, you should consult with your doctor.

The common side effects of temazepam include:[2]

  • Feeling groggy the next day after taking Restoril
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you are allergic to Restoril, you could experience an allergic reaction:[2]

  • Rash or hives
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

If you or a loved one experience an allergic reaction to temazepam, contact emergency medical services immediately.

What is Ambien?

Ambien is the brand name for a sedative-hypnotic drug called zolpidem.[3] While benzodiazepines are considered sedative-hypnotics, so are “Z-drugs” like Ambien. Ambien works similarly to Restoril by slowing down activity in your brain to induce sleep.

When you are taking Ambien, you must allow yourself 7 to 8 hours of sleep before waking up in the morning. Otherwise, you might experience a type of hangover that causes you to feel very drowsy throughout the day.

Like Restoril, Ambien is only intended for short-term use. Ambien can be habit-forming when taken for a long period and you should never take a higher dose than prescribed by your doctor.

Side Effects of Ambien

The common side effects of Ambien include:[3]

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness the next day
  • Lightheadedness
  • Unsteady walking
  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Nausea
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Gas and heartburn
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unusual dreams
  • Strange behaviors in your sleep like sleepwalking, eating, or even driving
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Joint, back, or neck pain
  • Increased menstrual bleeding

If you are allergic or intolerant to Ambien, you could experience:[3]

  • Rash, hives, and itching
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Feeling like your throat is closing
  • Difficulty breathing and swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Yellowing eyes or skin
  • Changes in stool color
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain or pounding heart
  • Blurred vision

If you or a loved one experiences the severe side effects mentioned above, contact emergency medical services. You could be having a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires professional care.

Key Differences Between Restoril and Ambien

There are plenty of differences between Restoril and Ambien to be aware of. For starters, Restoril is a benzodiazepine while Ambien is considered a “Z-drug”.

The other differences between Restoril and Ambien include:

  • Ambien can be prescribed for up to 2 weeks while Restoril is only used for 10 days or less
  • Ambien puts you at a higher risk of experiencing strange behaviors in your sleep such as walking, talking, eating, and even driving
  • Restoril is more suited for patients with liver or kidney problems. Ambien can cause severe side effects in these individuals.
  • If you are pregnant, you cannot take Restoril because it is a benzodiazepine and can negatively affect your baby
  • While Restoril is only available as a pill, Ambien comes in pills, sublingual tablets, and nasal spray form
  • Restoril has a longer half-life of 16 hours, while Ambien is only 2.6 hours
  • More drugs interact negatively with Ambien than Restoril
  • People over the age of 65 should not take Restoril as they might experience severe side effects

Lastly, Ambien is thought to carry a higher risk of abuse and dependence than Restoril.

Find Help Now

If you or a loved one develop an addiction to one or both of these substances, professional drug addiction treatment can help. With a combination of evidence-based behavioral therapy, alternative treatments for insomnia, group counseling, and relapse prevention planning, you can develop a strong foundation for recovery.

To learn more about our prescription drug rehab programs, contact Moving Mountains Recovery Center today.


  1. Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Sleep Difficulties in Adults 2020, Retrieved May 2023 From
  2. Medline Plus: Temazepam, Retrieved May 2023 From
  3. Medline Plus: Zolpidem, Retrieved May 2023 From
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