Lunesta is a brand-name oral tablet prescribed for insomnia. Lunesta contains the active ingredient eszopiclone and belongs to the sedative-hypnotic drug class.

Lunesta is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat insomnia in adults. It helps with difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both.

Drug details

You’ll find key information about Lunesta below.

  • Drug class: sedative-hypnotic
  • Drug form: oral tablet
  • Generic available? yes
  • Prescription required? yes
  • Controlled substance? yes, Schedule IV (see “Lunesta withdrawal and dependence” for details)
  • Year of FDA approval: 2004

Lunesta has a boxed warning about unusual sleep behaviors. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA. For details, see the “Lunesta precautions” section below.

Lunesta is a brand-name drug that contains the active ingredient eszopiclone. This active ingredient is also available as a generic medication. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active ingredient in a brand-name medication.

The generic is considered as safe and effective as the original drug. Generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs. To learn more about generic Lunesta, see the “Lunesta cost and coupons” section below.

If you’re interested in the generic form of Lunesta, talk with your doctor. They can tell you if it comes in forms and strengths suitable for your condition.

Lunesta can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Lunesta. These lists do not include all possible side effects.

For more information about the possible side effects of Lunesta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to manage any side effects that may concern or bother you.

Note: The FDA tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Lunesta, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Below is a partial list of mild side effects of Lunesta. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist or view the drug’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects of Lunesta can include:

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. However, if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Lunesta aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening, or you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • drowsiness the following day, which may include symptoms that could impair your driving ability, such as:
    • feeling groggy
    • reduced alertness
    • slow reactions
    • memory problems
  • unusual thinking or behavior, which may include symptoms such as:
  • anxiety, which may include symptoms such as:
    • feeling more irritable, restless or worried than is typical
    • difficulty concentrating
    • increased heart rate
    • difficulty breathing
  • unusual sleep behaviors (see “Note” just below)

Note: Lunesta has a boxed warning for unusual sleep behaviors. This is the most serious warning from the FDA. To learn more, see the “Lunesta precautions” section below.

ALLERGIC REACTION

For some people, Lunesta oral tablet can cause an allergic reaction.

In general, symptoms of allergic reaction can be mild or serious. You can learn more about possible symptoms in this article.

Ways to manage

For mild allergic reaction symptoms, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may recommend treatments to help manage your symptoms. They’ll also let you know whether you should keep taking the medication.

For severe allergic reaction symptoms, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms require immediate medical care because they can become life threatening. If you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Lunesta oral tablet, your doctor may recommend taking a different medication instead.

The Lunesta dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:

  • your age
  • other medical conditions you may have
  • other medications you may take

The following information describes the dosage that’s commonly prescribed or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Drug forms and strengths

Lunesta comes as an oral tablet. It’s available in three strengths: 1 milligram (mg), 2 mg, and 3 mg.

Dosage for insomnia

Lunesta is prescribed to treat insomnia (difficulty sleeping) in adults.

The recommended starting dosage to help sleep is 1 mg per day. If this doesn’t work well enough for you, your doctor may increase your dosage to 2 mg or 3 mg per day.

Talk with your doctor if your insomnia hasn’t improved after taking Lunesta for a week.

Lunesta’s recommended maximum dosage is 3 mg per day. However, your doctor may recommend a maximum dosage of 2 mg per day in some situations. These include if you’re ages 65 years or older, have certain medical conditions, or take certain other medications.

You should not take a higher dose than your doctor prescribes.

About taking Lunesta

Below you’ll find information about key dosage issues.

  • When to take: You should take your Lunesta dose right before going to bed. But only take it if you expect to be able to stay in bed for the next 7 to 8 hours.
  • If you miss a dose: If you forget to take your dose at bedtime, you may have to skip it. You should only take Lunesta if you have at least 7 to 8 hours before you have to wake up.
  • Taking Lunesta with food: You can take Lunesta without food or with a light snack. However, you should avoid taking Lunesta with or soon after a meal. Doing so can delay the time it takes for the drug to start working.
  • Crushing, splitting, or chewing Lunesta: Lunesta tablets are meant to be swallowed whole. The manufacturer doesn’t state whether the tablets can be crushed, split, or chewed. If you have trouble swallowing Lunesta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Length of treatment: Lunesta may be a short-term or long-term treatment. In clinical trials, people took Lunesta for up to 6 months.
  • How long it takes Lunesta to work: Lunesta starts working soon after you take it. It should usually help you fall asleep within 1 hour of taking your dose.

If you have any questions about how to take Lunesta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Overdose

Taking more than the recommended dosage of Lunesta can lead to serious side effects. Do not take more Lunesta than your doctor recommends.

Overdose symptoms

Lunesta overdose symptoms can include extreme sleepiness and unresponsiveness. In severe cases, an overdose may lead to coma.

What to do in case of overdose

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call America’s Poison Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. However, if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Lunesta.

How do Lunesta vs. Ambien compare?

Lunesta (eszopiclone) and Ambien (zolpidem) belong to the same class of drugs (sedative-hypnotics). They work in the same way to treat insomnia in adults. Both medications come as an oral tablet that you take right before going to bed.

Lunesta helps you fall asleep and has a long action that helps you stay asleep. Ambien also helps you fall asleep but has a shorter action than Lunesta. So Ambien may not help you stay asleep as well as Lunesta. However, Ambien also comes as an extended-release oral tablet called Ambien CR. This is a longer-acting form of the drug that can help you stay asleep for as long as Lunesta does.

Ambien and Lunesta can cause similar side effects, including drowsiness the following day. Both have a boxed warning about unusual sleep behaviors. This is the most serious warning from the FDA. For more information, see the “Lunesta precautions” section below.

If you have other questions, you can read more about Lunesta versus Ambien or talk with your doctor.

How do Lunesta vs. trazodone compare?

Lunesta is a sedative-hypnotic medication prescribed for insomnia. Trazodone is an antidepressant medication prescribed for depression. The FDA has not approved trazodone to treat insomnia. But trazodone causes sleepiness, so doctors sometimes prescribe it off-label for insomnia. (Off-label use is when doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.)

Lunesta and trazodone both come as an oral tablet. These drugs can cause some similar and some different side effects. Your doctor can tell you more about how the side effects of these drugs compare.

Lunesta has a low risk of misuse and physical dependence, so the FDA has classified this drug as a controlled substance. (With dependence, the body adapts to a drug and requires it to function as usual. For details, see “Lunesta withdrawal and dependence” below.) There are special rules for prescribing and dispensing medications that are controlled substances. Trazodone isn’t classified as a controlled substance but dependence can occur if it’s taken long term.

If you have other questions about Lunesta versus trazodone, talk with your doctor.

Can Lunesta cause long-term side effects?

Possibly. In rare cases, taking Lunesta long term may lead to physical dependence. To learn more about this, see “Lunesta withdrawal and dependence” below.

However, people taking Lunesta in the drug’s clinical trials did not report long lasting side effects. In general, most side effects of the drug are temporary and typically go away when you stop taking it. For details, see the “Lunesta side effects” section above.

If you have questions or concerns about the risk of long-term side effects with Lunesta, talk with your doctor.

How does Lunesta work?

Lunesta works by attaching to particular sites in your brain called GABA receptors. This action produces a calming effect in your brain that helps you relax and encourages sleep. It helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you’d like to learn more about how Lunesta works to help sleep.

Lunesta may rarely cause physical dependence. With dependence, the body adapts to a drug and requires it to function as usual. As a result, suddenly stopping Lunesta can cause withdrawal symptoms.

People who’ve taken Lunesta for a long time or at high doses have an increased risk of dependence.

Symptoms of Lunesta withdrawal may include:

If you’d like to stop taking Lunesta, you should talk with your doctor first. This is especially important if you’ve been taking the medication for a long time. Your doctor may recommend a dose taper. This is a slow reduction of your dosage over time. A dose taper can help prevent withdrawal symptoms. Always follow your doctor’s instructions for how to stop taking Lunesta.

Is Lunesta addictive?

Yes, it can be addictive sometimes. But Lunesta has a low risk of misuse, dependence, and addiction. Misuse refers to using a drug in a way or for a purpose not prescribed by a doctor. Misuse of a drug may lead to addiction. This is when a person is unable to stop using a drug even though it’s causing harm.

Due to the low risk of Lunesta misuse and dependence, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies it as a Schedule IV controlled substance. A controlled substance is a drug the federal government regulates because it can lead to misuse, dependence, and withdrawal. It also means there are special rules for prescribing and dispensing the drug.

The risk of Lunesta addiction may be higher in people who have had substance use disorder (SUD). If you’ve ever had SUD, talk with your doctor about whether Lunesta is right for you.

If you have questions or concerns about these risks with Lunesta, talk with your doctor.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Lunesta to treat certain conditions. Lunesta may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label drug use is when an FDA-approved drug is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

Lunesta for sleep

Lunesta is FDA-approved to treat insomnia in adults. With insomnia, you may have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. These problems may be short or long term (chronic).

You take Lunesta at bedtime to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. You can take it to help with both short- and long-term sleep difficulties.

To learn more about insomnia, you can visit our sleep hub.

Lunesta and children

Lunesta is not approved for use in children under 18 years old. It is unknown if the drug is safe or effective for people in this age group.

Other drugs are available that can treat your condition. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Lunesta, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

The following drugs are similar to Lunesta:

Note that Lunesta is a sedative-hypnotic medication.

As with all medications, the cost of Lunesta can vary. The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Drug coupons: You can visit Optum Perks for price estimates of Lunesta. These estimates are based on the use of Optum Perks coupons. Note: Optum Perks coupons cannot be used with any insurance copays or benefits.

Financial and insurance assistance: If you need financial support to pay for Lunesta, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.

A copay savings program is available for Lunesta. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for support, visit the program website.

To learn more about saving money on prescriptions, check out this article.

Lunesta is available in a generic form called eszopiclone. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active ingredient in a brand-name medication. The generic is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. And generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs. To find out how the cost of eszopiclone compares to the cost of Lunesta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

To learn more about saving money on prescriptions, check out this article.

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Lunesta can interact with several other medications. It can also interact with certain supplements and foods.

Before taking Lunesta, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

Interactions with medications, foods, and supplements

Below is a list of medications, supplements, and foods that can interact with Lunesta. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with Lunesta. If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Medications that can interact with Lunesta• certain antifungals, such as ketoconazole and itraconazole (Sporanox, Tolsura)
• certain antibiotics, such as clarithromycin and rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
• certain HIV drugs, such as ritonavir (Norvir) and nelfinavir (Viracept)
• certain seizure medications, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol, others) and phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek)
• certain antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and nefazodone
benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium)
opioids, such as morphine (MS Contin, others) and oxycodone (Oxycontin, others)
• other sleep medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar) or suvorexant (Belsomra)
Vitamins or supplements that can interact with Lunestamelatonin
St. John’s wort
Foods that can interact with Lunestagrapefruit

Alcohol interaction

It’s not safe to consume alcohol with Lunesta. The combination can raise your risk of serious side effects, including unusual thoughts and behavior and severe sleepiness. You should not take Lunesta if you have consumed alcohol that evening. (You take Lunesta right before going to bed.)

If you have questions about the safety of drinking alcohol while taking Lunesta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

If you can become pregnant, consider the following information about pregnancy, fertility, birth control, and breastfeeding.

Lunesta and pregnancy

It is unknown whether you should take Lunesta during pregnancy. If you’re planning a pregnancy or can become pregnant, talk with your doctor before taking this medication.

Lunesta and birth control

It is unknown whether Lunesta is safe to take during pregnancy. If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re taking Lunesta.

Lunesta and breastfeeding

It is unknown whether you should take Lunesta while breastfeeding. If you’re currently breastfeeding or planning to do so, talk with your doctor before taking this medication.

This drug comes with several precautions.

FDA warning: Unusual sleep behaviors

This drug has a boxed warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Lunesta can cause unusual sleep behaviors, which are actions you carry out while asleep or not fully awake. These actions could lead to serious injury or even death. Examples include sleepwalking, sleep-driving, preparing and eating food, making phone calls, and having sex. You may not remember doing these things when you wake up.

If you experience an unusual sleep behavior when taking Lunesta, you should not take the medication again. Talk with your doctor about alternative treatments that may be a better option for you. (You can find a few examples in the “Lunesta alternatives” section above.)

If you have questions or concerns about this warning, talk with your doctor.

Other precautions

Before taking Lunesta, discuss your health history with your doctor. Lunesta may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. Be sure to talk with your doctor if any of the following apply to you:

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Lunesta, see the “Lunesta side effects” section above.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.