How Long Is Ambien Detectable In The Urine?

Our pharmacist answers the latest question regarding how long Ambien (Zolpidem) is detectable in the urine.


How long does Ambien stay in ones system after ingesting one 10mg tablet?

Asked by Courtney On Sep 29, 2017

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Sep 29, 2017

Compared to many drugs, Ambien (Zolpidem) does not last very long in the body. In healthy people, the half life of Ambien is about 2.6 hours, meaning that is takes 2.6 hours for 50% of the drug to be metabolized. Typically there needs to be around 5 to 6 half lives for a drug to no longer be detectable. This means that on paper at least, Ambien should really only be detectable for about less than a day. 

In addition to normal half life, many drugs have is called protein binding and this is where things get a little more complicated and unpredictable. Protein binding very often influences how long a drug lasts in the body and it varies from person to person. When we ingest drugs and they get absorbed, some of the drug gets bound to proteins and some of the drug goes unbound. Thus, a drug in blood exists in two forms: bound and unbound.. It is the UNBOUND portion of the drug that ends up being detectable and again it is the unbound portion that exerts it's effects. Ambien is pretty well protein bound so half-life alone doesn't  give us a precise estimate of how long the drug is detectable.

Here is the tricky part. Drug that is bound to proteins tend to become unbound after a period of time and exert their effects in the body and are detectable in urine.. Depending on the drug and the person, the bound drug can slowly become unbound and be released, metabolized and then excreted.. The bound portion can act as a pseudo-reservoir or depot from which the drug is slowly released.

Due to protein binding and individual variability, it is tough to give an exact period of time in which a drug will show up in the urine. Half life gives us a good idea, but it is not perfect. Having said all of this, there is decent data out there that states in MOST people, Ambien is detectable for about 1-3 days.

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Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Office: 716-389-3076

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