I did something recently that concerns me on many levels. I am under a large amount of stress because I'm in an unhappy marriage (which we're trying to work out) and because my company laid me off. I am under treatment for depression. A week ago, my doctor doubled the dosage of my antidepressant and, because I'm not sleeping well, he prescribed Ambien. On Saturday morning, I confused the vials and took two Ambien. I told my wife what happened and that I would probably sleep all day and went to bed. At around 10 p.m., my wife commented on how productive I had been: mowing the lawn, cleaning up, grocery shopping. I remembered none of this and said so. She said her only concern was that I left for "errands" and returned two hours later with nothing in hand. I talked to my doctor Monday, and he told me Ambien can cause amnesia and that some people have reported walking, driving, and cooking in their sleep. I know now what filled the missing two hours. This afternoon, I got a call from a woman who called me "lover" and asked when I wanted to come back. She called me her f--k buddy. This is a woman I had talked to only twice before in social situations. I do not even know where she lives; maybe I phoned her for directions. I do find her attractive, but I am stunned that I did something like this. My wife is vindictive, and if I say anything to her, it will end our marriage. I do not want to continue a relationship with the other woman. What should I do?
—Scared SleeplessAnd Prudie's answer:
It's hard to believe that the pharmaceutical industry has already solved two of our most vexing problems: How to get men to do weekend chores, and how to induce attractive strangers to have sex with you while being able to swear that you haven't cheated. If this gets around, soon we'll be living in a world where people are gobbling Ambien out of Pez containers. Driving, eating, even trying to cast congressional votes while under the influence of Ambien are all well-documented. Scroll around the Internet and you will also find individual accounts of Ambien-fueled sex—which the nondrugged participants claim is more creative and uninhibited than when their partner is awake. However good you may have been in bed, you need to keep the other woman from contacting you and asking for further services. Call her and try to explain. Tell her that, as hard as it is to believe, you have recently been prescribed several medications, you accidentally mixed them up, and as a result you have no memory of the events of the weekend. Say you're very sorry if you behaved irresponsibly but that you can't be in touch with her. Don't ask for details—you want to preserve your amnesiac deniability. And since you don't know what you did, you're hardly in a position to confess anything to your wife. From now on, when you have trouble drifting off, forget the Ambien and brew yourself a nice cup of chamomile tea.