Roseanne Barr Blamed Her Racist Tweets on Ambien: What to Know About the Sedative

Roseanne Barr blamed her since-deleted attack on former Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, who is black, on Ambien. Here's what to know about the sedative

Roseanne Barr has attributed the racist Twitter spree that prompted ABC to axe her sitcom’s revival to her use of sleep medication Ambien.

“Don’t feel sorry for me, guys!!-I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people,and wonderful writers (all liberal) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet,” Barr tweeted.

“Guys I did something unforgiveable so do not defend me. It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting-it was memorial day too-i went 2 far & do not want it defended-it was egregious Indefensible [sic]. I made a mistake I wish I hadn’t but…don’t defend it please,” she added.

On Monday, the actress shared a since-deleted attack on former Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, who is black, comparing her to an ape. ABC pulled the plug on Roseanne — the network’s highest rated show — hours later.

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But could Ambien really be a factor?

The insomnia drug also made headlines in March during Sean Penn‘s memorable appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when the actor admitted he was on Ambien and smoked several cigarettes on-air.

Penn may have still been feeling effects of the prescription sleep-aid, Dr. Chris Winter, president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, told PEOPLE, adding that side effects of the sedative can include “bizarre behaviors or doing things in your sleep that you don’t remember,” said Dr. Winter. While he doesn’t prescribe it often because the unwanted effects “can happen quite a bit,” he said it can be “reasonable” for people who need to regulate their sleep due to travel or night-shift work.

RELATED VIDEO: Sean Penn Smoking & on Ambien: Fans React to Actor’s Memorable Late-Night Appearance

But patients should also be cautious of how much they take.

“Dosing of ambien is typically 5 to 10 milligrams at night…women should be closer to 5 milligrams to start,” said Dr. Winter. “The total dose of Ambien shouldn’t go above 10 milligrams. So it’s a pretty restrictive dose range there.”

For the “long active dose” known as Ambien CR, which Dr. Winter said contains 6.25 to 12.5 milligrams, “you really need to be able to devote 8 hours minimum of sleep.”

Dr. Winter also cautioned against consuming alcohol or driving while on the medication. “If you look at package inserts of a lot of these drugs like Ambien and Lunesta, there’s also warnings about driving the next day,” he says.

Most importantly, “you should know what other drugs and substances you’re putting in your body” before taking Ambien, said Dr. Winter, adding that people with a history of mental illness, anxiety or depression should be extra cautious. He also says it’s important to ask yourself, “What am I taking this for? And do I have enough time to commit to sleeping?”

Dr. Winter also said that if you are suffering from insomnia, it may be a mental or psychological issue that deserves attention.

“I want to really help individuals find sleep naturally,” he said. “I have a lot of people who come to see me because they are scared that they can’t sleep. Sleep is a very interesting thing. Sleep is an absolute, nobody out there is not sleeping. It never exists. So, we want to do more cognitive behavior therapies and get people confident in their sleep again.”

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