Side effects of lunesta


Questions & Answers: Sleep problems and Lunesta

Questions & Answers: Sleep problems and Lunesta

Published: March, 2014

Q. I have chronic problems sleeping. I have heard about a new sleep medicine called Lunesta. Does it have any advantages over other sleep drugs?

A. The short answer is that we don’t know yet. Eszopiclone (brand name Lunesta) was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in December 2004. The special interest in this drug derives from a large controlled study that found it improved sleep quality for as long as six months. Even people taking it every night did not develop tolerance. That is, they didn’t have to keep raising the dose to achieve the desired effect. So Lunesta is the first sleep medication where approval won’t be limited to short-term (several days) use.

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(CNN) — Lunesta may help you doze off at night, but it’s the morning after that has officials concerned — which is why on Thursday they halved the recommended dosage for the well-known sleep aid.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cited data showing that a person may be less alert and do things such as driving less safely the day after taking Lunesta.

In particular, the federal agency pointed to one study of 91 healthy adults between the ages of 25 and 40, some of whom were given 3 mg of Lunesta, while the others got a placebo, or inactive pill.

Men and women who took the active drug had “severe next-morning psychomotor and memory impairment” some 7½ hours later, as well as “impairment to driving skills, memory and coordination as long as 11 hours after the drug is taken,” according to an FDA news release.

As a result, the FDA decided to decrease the recommended starting dose of Eszopiclone, as sold by Sunovion under the brand name Lunesta, from 2 mg to 1 mg.

The federal agency noted that health care professionals could increase the dosage as high as 3 mg while warning of the consequences.

“To help ensure patient safety, health care professionals should prescribe, and patients should take, the lowest dose of a sleep medicine that effectively treats their insomnia,” said Dr. Ellis Unger, a drug evaluation director at the FDA.

Sunovion, the company that makes and markets Lunesta, did not immediately respond Thursday to CNN requests for comment on the recommended dosage change.

According to the product’s website, Lunesta is “the No. 1 prescribed branded sleep aid,” with more than 31 million prescriptions for the drug written. The same site states that “more than 30 studies” have shown Lunesta “to be effective in many different types of insomnia patients,” adding that “there are no restrictions on duration for taking Lunesta.”


Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in clinical practice.

The premarketing development program for LUNESTA included eszopiclone exposures in patients and/or normal subjects from two different groups of studies: approximately 400 normal subjects in clinical pharmacology/pharmacokinetic studies, and approximately 1550 patients in placebo-controlled clinical effectiveness studies, corresponding to approximately 263 patientexposure years. The conditions and duration of treatment with LUNESTA varied greatly and included (in overlapping categories) open-label and double-blind phases of studies, inpatients and outpatients, and short-term and longer-term exposure. Adverse reactions were assessed by collecting adverse events, results of physical examinations, vital signs, weights, laboratory analyses, and ECGs.

The stated frequencies of adverse reactions represent the proportion of individuals who experienced, at least once, adverse reaction of the type listed. A reaction was considered treatment-emergent if it occurred for the first time or worsened while the patient was receiving therapy following baseline evaluation.

Clinical Trials Experience

Adverse Reactions Resulting In Discontinuation Of Treatment

In placebo-controlled, parallel-group clinical trials in the elderly, 3.8% of 208 patients who received placebo, 2.3% of 215 patients who received 2 mg LUNESTA, and 1.4% of 72 patients who received 1 mg LUNESTA discontinued treatment due to an adverse reaction. In the 6-week parallel-group study in adults, no patients in the 3 mg arm discontinued because of an adverse reaction. In the long-term 6-month study in adult insomnia patients, 7.2% of 195 patients who received placebo and 12.8% of 593 patients who received 3 mg LUNESTA discontinued due to an adverse reaction. No reaction that resulted in discontinuation occurred at a rate of greater than 2%.

Adverse Reactions Observed At An Incidence Of ≥2% In Controlled Trials

Table 1 shows the incidence of adverse reactions from a Phase 3 placebo-controlled study of LUNESTA at doses of 2 or 3 mg in non-elderly adults. Treatment duration in this trial was 44 days. The table includes only reactions that occurred in 2% or more of patients treated with LUNESTA 2 mg or 3 mg in which the incidence in patients treated with LUNESTA was greater than the incidence in placebo-treated patients.

Table 1: Incidence (%) of Adverse Reactions in a 6-Week Placebo-Controlled Study in Non-Elderly Adults with LUNESTA1

Adverse Reaction Placebo
Body as a Whole
Headache 13 21 17
Viral Infection 1 3 3
Digestive System
Dry Mouth 3 5 7
Dyspepsia 4 4 5
Nausea 4 5 4
Vomiting 1 3 0
Nervous System
Anxiety 0 3 1
Confusion 0 0 3
Depression 0 4 1
Dizziness 4 5 7
Hallucinations 0 1 3
Libido Decreased 0 0 3
Nervousness 3 5 0
Somnolence 3 10 8
Respiratory System
Infection 3 5 10
Skin and Appendages
Rash 1 3 4
Special Senses
Unpleasant Taste 3 17 34
Urogenital System
Dysmenorrhea * 0 3 0
Gynecomastia ** 0 3 0
1 Reactions for which the LUNESTA incidence was equal to or less than placebo are not listed on the table, but included the following: abnormal dreams, accidental injury, back pain, diarrhea, flu syndrome, myalgia, pain, pharyngitis, and rhinitis.
* Gender-specific adverse reaction in females
** Gender-specific adverse reaction in males

Adverse reactions from Table 1 that suggest a dose-response relationship in adults include viral infection, dry mouth, dizziness, hallucinations, infection, rash, and unpleasant taste, with this relationship clearest for unpleasant taste.

Table 2 shows the incidence of adverse reactions from combined Phase 3 placebo-controlled studies of LUNESTA at doses of 1 or 2 mg in elderly adults (ages 65-86). Treatment duration in these trials was 14 days. The table includes only reactions that occurred in 2% or more of patients treated with LUNESTA 1 mg or 2 mg in which the incidence in patients treated with LUNESTA was greater than the incidence in placebo-treated patients.

Table 2: Incidence (%) of Adverse Reactions in Elderly Adults (Ages 65-86) in 2-Week Placebo-Controlled Trials with LUNESTA1

Adverse Reactions Placebo
Body as a Whole
Accidental Injury 1 0 3
Headache 14 15 13
Pain 2 4 5
Digestive System
Diarrhea 2 4 2
Dry Mouth 2 3 7
Dyspepsia 2 6 2
Nervous System
Abnormal Dreams 0 3 1
Dizziness 2 1 6
Nervousness 1 0 2
Neuralgia 0 3 0
Skin and Appendages
Pruritus 1 4 1
Special Senses
Unpleasant Taste 0 8 12
Urogenital System
Urinary Tract Infection 0 3 0
1 Reactions for which the LUNESTA incidence was equal to or less than placebo are not listed on the table, but included the following: abdominal pain, asthenia, nausea, rash, and somnolence.

Adverse reactions from Table 2 that suggest a dose-response relationship in elderly adults include pain, dry mouth, and unpleasant taste, with this relationship again clearest for unpleasant taste.

These figures cannot be used to predict the incidence of adverse reactions in the course of usual medical practice because patient characteristics and other factors may differ from those that prevailed in the clinical trials. Similarly, the cited frequencies cannot be compared with figures obtained from other clinical investigations involving different treatments, uses, and investigators. The cited figures, however, do provide the prescribing physician with some basis for estimating the relative contributions of drug and non-drug factors to the adverse reaction incidence rate in the population studied.

Other Reactions Observed During The Premarketing Evaluation Of LUNESTA

Following is a list of modified COSTART terms that reflect adverse reactions as defined in the introduction to the Adverse Reactions section and reported by approximately 1550 subjects treated with LUNESTA at doses in the range of 1 to 3.5 mg/day during Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials throughout the United States and Canada. All reported reactions are included except those already listed in Tables 1 and 2 or elsewhere in labeling, minor reactions common in the general population, and reactions unlikely to be drug-related. Although the reactions reported occurred during treatment with LUNESTA, they were not necessarily caused by it.

Reactions are further categorized by body system and listed in order of decreasing frequency according to the following definitions: frequent adverse reactions are those that occurred on one or more occasions in at least 1/100 patients; infrequent adverse reactions are those that occurred in fewer than 1/100 patients but in at least 1/1,000 patients; rare adverse reactions are those that occurred in fewer than 1/1,000 patients. Gender-specific reactions are categorized based on their incidence for the appropriate gender.

Cardiovascular System: Frequent: migraine; Infrequent: hypertension; Rare: thrombophlebitis.

Digestive System: Infrequent: anorexia, cholelithiasis, increased appetite, melena, mouth ulceration, thirst, ulcerative stomatitis; Rare: colitis, dysphagia, gastritis, hepatitis, hepatomegaly, liver damage, stomach ulcer, stomatitis, tongue edema, rectal hemorrhage.

Hemic and Lymphatic System: Infrequent: anemia, lymphadenopathy.

Metabolic and Nutritional: Frequent: peripheral edema; Infrequent: hypercholesteremia, weight gain, weight loss; Rare: dehydration, gout, hyperlipemia, hypokalemia.

Nervous System: Infrequent: agitation, apathy, ataxia, emotional lability, hostility, hypertonia, hypesthesia, incoordination, insomnia, memory impairment, neurosis, nystagmus, paresthesia, reflexes decreased, thinking abnormal (mainly difficulty concentrating), vertigo; Rare: abnormal gait, euphoria, hyperesthesia, hypokinesia, neuritis, neuropathy, stupor, tremor.

Respiratory System: Infrequent: asthma, bronchitis, dyspnea, epistaxis, hiccup, laryngitis.

Skin and Appendages: Infrequent: acne, alopecia, contact dermatitis, dry skin, eczema, skin discoloration, sweating, urticaria; Rare: erythema multiforme, furunculosis, herpes zoster, hirsutism, maculopapular rash, vesiculobullous rash.

Special Senses: Infrequent: conjunctivitis, dry eyes, ear pain, otitis externa, otitis media, tinnitus, vestibular disorder; Rare: hyperacusis, iritis, mydriasis, photophobia.

Urogenital System: Infrequent: amenorrhea, breast engorgement, breast enlargement, breast neoplasm, breast pain, cystitis, dysuria, female lactation, hematuria, kidney calculus, kidney pain, mastitis, menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, urinary frequency, urinary incontinence, uterine hemorrhage, vaginal hemorrhage, vaginitis; Rare: oliguria, pyelonephritis, urethritis.

Post-Marketing Experience

In addition to the adverse reactions observed during clinical trials, dysosmia, an olfactory dysfunction that is characterized by distortion of the sense of smell, has been reported during post-marketing surveillance with LUNESTA. Because this event is reported spontaneously from a population of unknown size, it is not possible to estimate the frequency of this event.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Lunesta (Eszopiclone)

Long-term Effects and Side Effects of Lunesta Abuse

Lunesta, the brand name for generic drug eszopiclone, is a hypnotic, non-benzodiazepine prescription medication used to treat insomnia.

Much like Ambien, Lunesta can cause serious side effects, especially when paired with alcohol or when taken in larger-than-prescribed doses. The medication can be habit-forming and addictive.

It is very important for individuals who have struggled with addiction or drug abuse in the past to discuss these issues with their doctor before beginning a Lunesta prescription. This prescription drug can be so habit-forming that, in 2014, the Food and Drug Administration changed the recommended low dose of Lunesta from 2 mg to 1 mg. This change also had to do with some of the hypnotic, sleep-inducing side effects of the medication, which can linger into the next day.

Use Parameters

There are several potential side effects of taking Lunesta, especially if a person takes this medication for more than a few months. While doctors monitor their patients for side effects and symptoms, including addictive behaviors, it is important for people who receive a Lunesta prescription to discuss any concerns they have about side effects, both long-term and short-term, with their medical professionals.

People who do not plan to get more than seven hours of sleep should not take Lunesta, and those who regularly drink alcohol or take certain dietary supplements should not take this drug. It is important to let doctors know about any other prescription medications you are taking as well, because mixing this prescription with other drugs can be detrimental to organ systems like the liver, kidneys, or brain.

Short-term Side Effects

The most common, short-term side effects of Lunesta include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Unpleasant taste on the tongue, typically bitter or metallic
  • Drowsiness or difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Cold-like symptoms, such as runny nose or cough
  • Ongoing grogginess the next day

It is possible to have an allergic reaction to this medication, so it is important to discuss allergies with a doctor. More serious side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Abnormal thoughts or behavior, such as aggression, confusion, hallucinations, severe depression, or suicidal thoughts
  • Memory loss
  • Somnambulism or other “sleepwalking” activities

Somnambulism is one of the more serious side effects. Individuals who take Lunesta may get out of bed and hold a conversation, leave the house, eat a large amount of food, or even engage in sexual activity while still asleep. This side effect can get worse when Lunesta is mixed with recreational, illegal drugs, or alcohol.

Another side effect of Lunesta, which can be worsened when mixed with drugs or alcohol, is the potential to not be fully awake or alert the next day. If a person takes Lunesta as a prescription, it is important to follow all the prescribing doctor’s recommendations, such as getting at least seven hours of sleep and taking only the smallest required dose, in order to reduce this possibility. However, if Lunesta is taken recreationally, or in combination with alcohol or recreational drugs, it is possible that the person will not wake up completely from sleep the next day. This puts the person in physical danger, particularly if driving or operating heavy machinery. Typically, the person suffering this side effect will feel alert and awake for the most part, but could still suffer sleep-related hallucinations or other effects of this hypnotic medication.

Sometimes, a person may feel hungover after taking Lunesta. This feeling can intensify if Lunesta is taken in too large a dose, with alcohol, or mixed with other recreational drugs. Headaches become worse or more common, as well as feeling dehydrated, fatigued, and depressed.

Generally, short-term side effects only occur in about 2 percent of the population, typically less. The potential for side effects increases when a person takes this medication for longer than necessary, without doctor supervision, in too high a dose, or in combination with recreational drugs or alcohol.

Long-term Side Effects

If a person takes this medication for a long time, or takes this drug in ways that are not as prescribed by a medical professional, the person could experience withdrawal when stopping use of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nervousness, anxiety, irritability, or mood swings
  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Flushing
  • Rebound insomnia

If a person takes Lunesta and wishes to stop, or the prescribing doctor thinks the person should stop, the doctor may create a plan to reduce the dosage slowly over time. This is called tapering, and it can wean the body off a potentially addictive medication while reducing the impact of withdrawal symptoms.

A long-term physical effect of taking Lunesta is tolerance to the drug. This means that the person will have to take higher doses of this drug in order to feel the same effects.

When Lunesta is taken as a prescription and supervised by a medical professional, when tolerance develops, the prescribing doctor can either switch the individual to another medication, or help the person stop taking Lunesta and try other insomnia treatments.

However, if a person abuses Lunesta for recreational purposes, or suffers from an addiction to Lunesta, there are other long-term side effects that could become serious. Memory loss can occur, in some instances even when the individual follows the prescribing doctor’s instructions. However, when taken in doses that are too large, amnesia can become a recurring problem. People who suffer Lunesta-related amnesia forget events while they are on the drug, either due to sleepwalking and related activities, or because the drug affects the brain directly and prevents the individual from properly forming memories. Amnesia could be a side effect of too large a dose, in which case people should speak to their doctors about lowering the dosage, or it could be a side effect of addiction or mixing this drug with alcohol or other drugs. Similarly, Lunesta can cause problems with cognitive function over time.

Psychological problems can develop with long-term use of Lunesta as well. Depression can get worse, suicidal thoughts may form, and anxiety or neurosis may be present. With very long-term abuse, the drug can cause hallucinations and paranoia.

Long-term use or abuse of Lunesta can also lead to a loss of coordination and fine motor control. Uncontrollable eye movements, called nystagmus, can begin, and muscles may twitch, shake, and become weak. In addition, the person may experience sensitivity to light, inflammation of the whites of the eyes (conjunctivitis), and have dry eyes. The person may also develop tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears that becomes progressively worse.

A person can experience increasingly poor reflexes along with other musculoskeletal problems such as inflamed joints, which become stiff or painful. Other parts of the body may suffer from inflammation as well, especially the lungs in individuals who suffer asthma or allergies. Inflammation in the lungs can decrease breathing capacity and make these conditions worse.

Because medications are filtered through the liver and kidneys when they are digested, long-term abuse or addiction to Lunesta can lead to liver and kidney damage. The likelihood of this is increased if the person suffers from liver disease or kidney disease already.

More on Long-Term Effects

  • Permanent Effects of Drug Abuse
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  • Ativan
  • Cocaine
  • Ketamine
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  • Kratom

Are Lunesta’s Side Effects Reversible?

While short-term side effects are reversible, it is unclear to what extent long-term side effects can be reversed. If a person suffers bouts of amnesia due to Lunesta use or abuse, then the person will not be able to get those memories back. However, cognitive issues and mood swings can clear up after withdrawing from Lunesta.

More severe side effects like liver, kidney, and lung damage may or may not clear up, depending on how long the individual suffered from addiction to Lunesta.

Is There Treatment for Lunesta Addiction or Abuse?

If a person suffers from an addiction to Lunesta, medical detox can help the person to safely withdraw from this medication and comprehensive therapy can address the reasons that led to ongoing abuse. In addition to therapy to deal with issues related to substance abuse and addiction, treatment for Lunesta abuse should also address issues with insomnia and sleep health. Every addiction treatment program should assess incoming clients for co-occurring mental health issues to ensure the best chances of a complete recovery for each individual.

Insomnia med Lunesta, first approved in 2004, is now available as generic eszopiclone! Eszopiclone received FDA approval as of April 15, 2014 and was launched this month, meaning you will be able to find it in your pharmacy soon (if it isn’t already there).

What is Lunesta (eszopiclone)?
Eszopiclone is a GABA agonist is indicated for the treatment of insomnia.

What strengths is this medication available in, and how is it usually taken?
Lunesta and eszopiclone are available in 1 mg, 2 mg, and 3 mg tablets.

The typical adult (non-elderly) dose is 2 mg to 3 mg before bedtime. However, your dose of eszopiclone should be individualized and adjusted if you have liver problems.

Is this medication considered a controlled substance or narcotic?
Yes. Lunesta (eszopiclone) is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which can potentially lead to physical and mental dependence.

What are the most common side effects?
The most common side effects of this medication include: headache, drowsiness, unpleasant taste, respiratory or viral infection, dizziness, dry mouth, rash, anxiety, or hallucinations.

There are multiple generic manufacturers with approval to make eszopiclone, so generic eszopiclone should offer significant savings over brand name Lunesta in time.

  • Lunesta Side Effects

    Generic Name: eszopiclone

    Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 22, 2018.

    • Overview
    • Side Effects
    • Dosage
    • Professional
    • Interactions
    • More

    Note: This document contains side effect information about eszopiclone. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Lunesta.

    In Summary

    Common side effects of Lunesta include: infection, drowsiness, and unpleasant taste. Other side effects include: nausea, dizziness, and xerostomia. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

    For the Consumer

    Applies to eszopiclone: oral tablet

    Along with its needed effects, eszopiclone (the active ingredient contained in Lunesta) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

    Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking eszopiclone:

    More common

    • Cough or hoarseness
    • fever or chills
    • lower back or side pain
    • painful or difficult urination
    • sleepiness or unusual drowsiness

    Less common

    • Bladder pain
    • bloody or cloudy urine
    • cold flu-like symptoms
    • confusion
    • difficult, burning, or painful urination
    • discouragement
    • fear or nervousness
    • feeling sad or empty
    • frequent urge to urinate
    • irritability
    • lack of appetite
    • loss of interest or pleasure
    • nerve pain
    • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
    • tiredness
    • trouble concentrating
    • trouble sleeping

    Some side effects of eszopiclone may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

    More common

    • Acid or sour stomach
    • bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
    • belching
    • change in taste
    • dizziness
    • dry mouth
    • headache
    • heartburn
    • indigestion
    • nausea
    • pain
    • stomach discomfort, upset, or pain

    Less common

    • Abnormal dreams
    • accidental injury
    • decreased interest in sexual intercourse
    • diarrhea
    • inability to have or keep an erection
    • pain, cramps, or heavy bleeding (females)
    • rash
    • swelling of the breasts or breast soreness (in both males and females)
    • vomiting

    Incidence not known

    • Loss of memory
    • problems with memory

    For Healthcare Professionals

    Applies to eszopiclone: oral tablet


    The most commonly reported side effects included unpleasant taste, headache, somnolence, and infection.

    Nervous system

    A dose-response relationship appears to exist for dizziness and unpleasant taste.

    Headache was reported in 21% of non-elderly patients given 2 mg orally for 6 weeks, and in 17% of non-elderly adults given 3 mg orally for 6 weeks.

    In patients 65 to 86 years of age, headache occurred in up to 15% of patients given 1 mg, and unpleasant taste occurred in up to 12% of patients given 2 mg orally for 2 weeks.

    Dizziness and neuralgia commonly occurred in patients aged 65 years of age or older. Somnolence has also been reported in this patient population.

    Very common (10% or more): Unpleasant taste (up to 34%), headache (up to 21%)

    Common (1% to 10%): Dizziness, migraine, neuralgia, somnolence

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Abnormal gait, hyperesthesia, hypokinesia, neuritis, neuropathy, stupor, tremor

    Postmarketing reports: Dysosmia


    A dose-response relationship appears to exist for confusion, decreased libido, and hallucinations.

    Abnormal dreams and nervousness commonly occurred in patients aged 65 years of age or older.

    Common (1% to 10%): Abnormal dreams, anxiety, confusion, decreased libido, depression, hallucinations, nervousness

    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abnormal thinking, agitation, apathy, emotional lability, hostility, insomnia, neurosis,

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Euphoria


    A dose-response relationship appears to exist for dry mouth.

    Diarrhea, dry mouth, and dyspepsia commonly occurred in patients aged 65 years of age or older. Abdominal pain and nausea have also been reported in this patient population.

    Common (1% to 10%): Diarrhea, dry mouth, dyspepsia, nausea, vomiting

    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Halitosis, melena, mouth ulceration, ulcerative stomatitis

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Colitis, dysphagia, gastritis, rectal hemorrhage, stomach ulcer, stomatitis, tongue edema

    Frequency not reported: Abdominal pain


    Urinary tract infections commonly occurred in patients aged 65 years of age or older.

    Common (1% to 10%): Dysmenorrhea, urinary tract infection

    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Amenorrhea, breast engorgement, breast enlargement, breast pain, cystitis, dysuria, female lactation, hematuria, mastitis, menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, urinary frequency, urinary incontinence, uterine hemorrhage, vaginal hemorrhage, vaginitis

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Urethritis


    Common (1% to 10%): Pruritus, rash

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Erythema multiforme, furunculosis, hirsutism, maculopapular rash, vesiculobullous rash

    A dose-response relationship appears to exist for rash.

    Pruritus commonly occurred in patients aged 65 years of age or older. Abdominal pain has also been reported in this patient population.


    A dose-response relationship appears to exist for accidental injury and pain.

    Accidental injury and pain commonly occurred in patients aged 65 years of age or older. Asthenia and pain have also been reported in this patient population.

    Common (1% to 10%): Accidental injury, pain

    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Ear pain, face edema, fever, hernia, malaise, otitis externa, otitis media, tinnitus

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Hyperacusis

    Frequency not reported: Asthenia


    Common (1% to 10%): Chest pain, peripheral edema

    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Heat stroke, hypertension

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Thrombophlebitis


    A dose-response relationship appears to exist for infection.

    Common (1% to 10%): Infection, viral infection

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Herpes zoster

    Frequency not reported: Flu syndrome


    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Allergic reaction


    Common (1% to 10%): Gynecomastia


    Rare (less than 0.1%): Arthrosis, myopathy

    Frequency not reported: Back pain, myalgia


    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Anorexia, hypercholesterolemia, increased appetite, thirst, weight gain, weight loss

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Dehydration, gout, hyperlipemia, hypokalemia


    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Asthma, bronchitis, dyspnea, epistaxis, hiccup, laryngitis

    Frequency not reported: Pharyngitis, rhinitis


    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Conjunctivitis, dry eyes

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Iritis, mydriasis, photophobia, ptosis


    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Kidney calculus, kidney pain

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Oliguria, pyelonephritis


    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Anemia, lymphadenopathy


    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Cholelithiasis

    Rare (less than 0.1%): Hepatitis, hepatomegaly, liver damage


    Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Breast neoplasm

    1. “Product Information. Lunesta (eszopiclone).” Sepracor Inc, Marlborough, MA.

    Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

    Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.

    • Is “Ambien-Tweeting” a Thing?

    Medical Disclaimer

    How to Sleep Well with Lunesta and Avoid Side Effects

    Common side effects of Lunesta include drowsiness, dizziness and nausea and stomach discomfort, as well as confusion and behavioral changes.
    Not sleeping for the duration of Lunesta’s effect can result in serious side effects, including behavioral changes, such as risk-taking, and aggressiveness, memory loss, hallucination and loss of motor control.

    Table of Contents

    • What Are Major Side Effects of Lunesta?
    • What Are Minor Lunesta Side Effects?
    • What Are Behavioral Adverse Effects of Lunesta?
    • What Are Side Effects of Mixing Lunesta With Alcohol?
    • What Are Lunesta Rare Side Effects?
    • Are There Any Lunesta Mental Adverse Effects?
    • Who Shouldn’t Use Lunesta?
    • What Are Withdrawal Symptoms of Lunesta?
    • Where To Seek Treatment For Lunesta Abuse?

    Lunesta (eszopiclone) is a sedative-hypnotic used to help people who suffer from insomnia. The drug interacts with the GABA receptors in the brain, which assist in the regulation of a person’s sleep patterns.
    Like any other sleep drug, however, when the medicine is not administered properly, unpleasant side effects can ensue.

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    Major Side Effects of Lunesta

    There are some common side effects reported by Lunesta patients. Many Lunesta users notice a metallic taste in their mouth. Sometimes this is accompanied by other changes in taste. Advice for dealing with this unpleasant taste includes:

    • Taking the pill whole
    • Drinking something acidic (orange juice, for example)
    • Using chewing gum or mouthwash.

    Another common side effect is xerostomia, a medical term used to describe the dryness in the mouth caused by a lack of saliva. Drinking plenty of water is a way to deal with this condition. It’s usually recommended to drink a full glass of water per Lunesta pill.

    People also often experience sleepiness even after a good night’s sleep with Lunesta. To prevent this, patients should schedule 7-8 hours dedicated to sleeping. It’s also important not to exceed a dose of 2-3 mg (starting from 1 mg). To avoid drowsiness, do not drink alcohol while taking Lunesta and do not mix Lunesta with other medicines, such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants or cold medicine.

    Major side effects of Lunesta include:

    • Drowsiness
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness
    • “Hangover” feeling
    • Depression
    • Hallucinations

    Less common side effects of Lunesta include:

    • Fever and cold-flu like symptoms
    • Headaches
    • Hoarseness
    • Lower back and side pain
    • Nerve pain
    • Heartburn
    • Difficulties with urination and bladder pain
    • Lack of appetite

    Minor Side Effects of Lunesta

    Some patients report:

    • Stomach pain or discomfort
    • Diarrhea
    • Rash
    • Swelling of the breasts (in both men and women)
    • Heavy bleeding and cramps (women)
    • Decreased sexual interest
    • Inability to keep an erection (men)

    Emotional and Behavioral Adverse Effects of Lunesta

    Lunesta users have reported some unusual emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes.
    Significant side effects that affect emotion and cognition are:

    • Loss of interest or pleasure
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Discouragement
    • Negative thoughts
    • Confusion
    • Agitation and irritability
    • Fear
    • Sadness
    • Apathy
    • Abnormal and suicidal thoughts

    If notice any abnormal changes, contact a doctor.

    Side Effects of Mixing Lunesta With Alcohol or Other Drugs

    Due to the adverse effects, it is not recommended to mix Lunesta and alcohol. Alcohol magnifies and enhances the side effects of Lunesta and vice versa, as both are central nervous system depressants. Due to this, the combination could affect movement, coordination, and dexterity.
    Alcohol can also increase side effects within the nervous system, such as inducing dizziness and impairing concentration abilities. Furthermore, the combination can bring on severe bouts of depression and recklessness, such as suicidal thoughts or instigating violence.
    Mixing Lunesta and alcohol can also lead to a state of not being fully awake the following day. This can lead to a variety of health hazards, endangering both the person under the influence and others, particularly in the case of driving or operating any kind of machinery or vehicle.
    Mixing alcohol with Lunesta also dramatically increases the chance of overdose due to breathing difficulties and suppressed heart rate.
    Other drugs, especially if they are narcotics, make the combination even more deadly and have the potential to induce a coma or even death.

    Preventing Lunesta side effects

    Get a full night’s sleep (7-8 hours) after taking Lunesta, and do not take it with other medication or alcohol. Drink a full glass of water with the pill and do not take more than the prescribed dosage.
    There are no adequate studies of the effects of Lunesta on pregnant and nursing women. Administration of the drug, however, should always be prescribed by a doctor, and only when the potential benefits justify the potential risk to the fetus.

    Rare Lunesta Side Effects

    Lunesta also has rarer side effects. One of those side effects is hypersensitivity, such as swelling of the tongue, throat, and larynx. These are all indicative traits of going into anaphylactic shock. If one experiences any of these side effects then they should immediately seek medical assistance and find a substitute sleep medication.
    Another rare side effect of Lunesta induced anaphylactic shock is alopecia (baldness). This can develop due to a severe allergic reaction, however, it is far less common than other reactions.
    Lunesta can also induce ocular side effects, such as conjunctivitis or photophobia, which can both stem from the severe dehydration caused by the drug. This can generally be avoided by staying hydrated when taking the medication.
    One of the more serious rare side effects is somnambulism. Sleepwalking occurs far more commonly when Lunesta is mixed with other drugs such as alcohol. It usually entails someone having an entire conversation whilst asleep but can be far more extreme with people being known to leave their houses, engage in sexual activity or even binge on food all while asleep.

    Lunesta Side Effects On Mental Health


    In some cases, anxiety can be the cause of sleep deprivation and the initial reason for a Lunesta prescription. However, when going through withdrawal from the drug, anxiety is a major negative symptom. Therefore if anxiety is the main reason for the sleep deprivation, it is probably wise to find an alternative solution, rather than Lunesta use.


    Another side effect is depression or suicidal thoughts. These kinds of side effects highlight why health professionals place such an emphasis on counseling after detox, as depression may lead back to Lunesta or even other drug abuse. Furthermore, it highlights how important support is in any case of regular drug intake, even for medicinal purposes.

    Memory Loss

    Other side effects, such as memory loss can also have an effect on mental health. Similarly to amnesia, memory loss can be extremely stressful to the people suffering from it and those around them, due to its disorientation properties. If someone is suffering from memory loss after taking Lunesta then ensuring they are calm and composed is vital for their mental health. Furthermore, helping in monitoring dosages is vital, as the user may forget if the medicine has been taken and accidentally overdose.


    Other kinds of neurosis and paranoia may also be present in those who abuse this drug in high dosages or long term. It is unclear if these side effects can be completely reversed or not, therefore medical advice should be immediately sought out at the first signs of these symptoms.

    Weakened Immune System

    Finally, as with most drugs, Lunesta weakens the immune system which can, in turn, expose one to an increased number of viruses and bacterial infections. This can increase the chance of low moods, making it all the more important to use it in moderation to minimize the chances of both physical and mental health issues.

    Lunesta Risk Groups

    Lunesta should not be the first drug to turn to if an individual cannot sleep, as there are plenty of herbal remedies and other options for this issue. However, if someone does consider it then they should assess the patient’s health first, as Lunesta isn’t suitable for everyone. If any of the following statements are true for a person, then they should avoid Lunesta use.

    • One does not or cannot get more than 7 hours of sleep.
    • One suffers from mental health issues such as severe depression, severe anxiety or schizophrenia.
    • One regularly drinks alcohol.
    • A person is on a variety of other medication (ask a doctor for specific medications one can mix together).
    • A person regularly takes dietary supplements.
    • A person has kidney, lung or heart-related issues.
    • An individual has brain or other organ related issues.

    It is important to inform a doctor of everything one may be taking alongside Lunesta, to avoid provoking further health problems.

    Withdrawal Symptoms of Lunesta

    Lunesta can cause symptoms of withdrawal, especially when it has been taken for a long time or in high doses. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include:

    • Anxiety
    • Cramps
    • Sweating

    Lunesta is all known for causing abnormal dreaming after prolonged use or even rebound insomnia. Sleep studies detected that after discontinuing use both sleep latency and efficiency worsened, as well as the quality of sleep. This meant that participants were regularly waking up during the night, often during REM sleep.
    Be aware that Lunesta can lead to dependency as well as insomnia if the drug is not administered correctly.

    To avoid withdrawal symptoms, ask the doctor on how to reduce the dosage gradually.

    Getting Medical Help For Lunesta Abuse

    In summary, the side effects of Lunesta vary from gastrointestinal and metabolic to psychiatric and immunologic. Data collected from various clinical trials show that the side effects of Lunesta radiate into many parts of the body:

    • Body as a whole (headaches, hernia)
    • Cardiovascular system (hypertension)
    • Digestive system (dry mouth, vomiting)
    • Hemic and Lymphatic system (anemia)
    • Musculoskeletal system (twitching, leg cramps)
    • Nervous system (anxiety, dizziness, depression, confusion)
    • Respiratory system (infection, hiccups)
    • Skin and appendages (rash, acne)
    • Special senses (metallic taste, dry eyes)
    • Urogenital system (with some differences in females and males)

    Some of the more severe side effects, such as liver, kidney or lung damage, may not wear off when Lunesta leaves the system. In this case, patients should seek medical help.
    Do not take Lunesta if one is allergic to any of its ingredients, and make sure to devote 7-8 hours to sleep after taking it.
    The above is not a complete list of all the possible side effects and withdrawal symptoms. It should be noted that the effectiveness of the drug, as well as the side effects, will vary from person to person.

    View Sources

    Last updated: 04/1/2019
    Author: Medical Review

    Reading Time: 3 minutes

    A glowing green moth swoops through the night and into an open window, circling the beds of restless sleepers while a soothing voice-over promises quick and easy relief from insomnia with Lunesta. This non-narcotic sleep aid delivers on that promise – but the eight hours of uninterrupted slumber it brings come with a cost.

    Here’s a look at seven of the strange and potentially serious side effects of Lunesta.

    What Makes Lunesta Different From Other Sleep Aids?

    Lunesta (ezsopiclone) is a hypnotic, a kind of drug that depresses the central nervous system and slows down brain activity to encourage sleep. The actual mechanism by which Lunesta achieves this is largely unclear, although it seems to affect levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical connected to depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.

    Unlike other classes of sleep aids, Lunesta can be taken for relatively long periods, although insomnia typically returns once the medication is stopped. Lunesta isn’t a narcotic, but quitting it suddenly can produce withdrawal symptoms similar to those of other addictive drugs.

    Side Effects Range From Mild to Severe

    Memory loss is a potential side effect of Lunesta.

    Though its advertisers downplay the darker side of Lunesta, this medication can cause a wide range of side effects, even when it’s taken as prescribed by a doctor.

    Mild side effects can include nausea, lightheadedness, vomiting and a metallic taste in the mouth. Some users also experience stomach cramping and short-term memory problems. Some of these effects subside once the body adjusts to the medication. But other, more serious, effects can be disorienting and dangerous.

    Sleep Activity

    The most widely publicized side effect of Lunesta is “sleep activity” similar to sleepwalking. But Lunesta users do much more than walk. While under its influence they may drive, eat, have sex, and a variety of other things – all without conscious awareness.

    Lunesta users may wake in strange places, crash cars, and gain weight from binge eating they don’t recall. They might contract STDs from risky sex they’d never have when awake, or wake up with unexplained bruises or contusions.

    Irritability and Aggression

    Because it acts on receptors in the brain that are related to mood, Lunesta can cause generalized irritability, anger and aggressive behavior, even at prescribed doses. These effects can be amplified when Lunesta is used with other mood regulating drugs or alcohol.

    Impaired Coordination

    Despite advertising claims that you’ll wake up bright eyed and alert after taking Lunesta, many users report problems with coordination and motor control, even days after using the drug. This can be a surprising cause of falls in elderly people who take Lunesta, and can affect efforts to drive or use machinery, computers and other tools.

    Suicidal Thoughts

    Lunesta’s connections to brain chemicals that affect mood mean that it can also intensify existing mood disorders such as depression and anxiety – or create them. Some users report having sudden thoughts of suicide, even though they might not normally feel that way. And for those who already struggle with depression and suicidal tendencies, Lunesta can create additional risk.


    Even when taken as prescribed, Lunesta can cause visual or aural hallucinations, especially if you’ve been awakened before the recommended eight hours of sleep. Hallucinations can persist into the next day or two of taking the medication, as part of the “brain fog” that can follow a dose.

    Short-term memory loss can be a part of the post-Lunesta fuzziness many people experience the day after taking it. But memory and cognition problems can persist even after you’re no longer using the medication.


    Lunesta can be strongly addictive, both psychologically and physically. Because insomnia often returns after quitting Lunesta, users may take higher doses and try to get hold of new prescriptions in order to get the same effects. Using Lunesta in combination with other drugs, prescribed or not, can raise the risk of severe complications or even death.

    Lunesta offers relief from moderate to severe insomnia – but its side effects can compromise your health and quality of life.

    Lunesta, or eszopiclone, is a prescription sleep aid medication that is prescribed to patients who struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. It is designed to be used only for a short period of time, and it is classified as a Schedule IV drug because it has the potential to be abused and users can become dependent. Lunesta can be effective in helping someone struggling with insomnia to overcome the problem for a brief time and get some much needed rest. However, it is a drug that can cause a range of significant and disruptive side effects. If you experience side effects while taking Lunesta, talk to your doctor about whether or not the medication is the best choice for your needs. If you are struggling with a dependence upon the drug and are unable to stop taking it, contact The Canyon for information about treatment services.

    There are a number of common side effects that are frequently reported by users of Lunesta. These include:

    • Dry mouth
    • Unpleasant taste in the mouth
    • Dizziness
    • Drowsiness and fatigue
    • Headache
    • Cold symptoms
    • Continued drowsiness the day after taking the drug

    In some cases, users report a range of serious side effects after taking Lunesta that may include:

    • Anxiety
    • Memory loss
    • Aggressive behavior
    • Confusion
    • Hallucinations
    • Agitation
    • Depression
    • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
    • Severe allergic reactions (e.g., swollen tongue, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, etc.)
    • Abnormal thoughts or behaviors

    Limiting Severe Side Effects

    Because the side effects of taking Lunesta can be so serious, it is recommended that you call your doctor right away if you exhibit any of these behaviors. In order to avoid these side effects and any accidents while under the influence, you are advised to:

    • Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Lunesta.
    • Only take the exact Lunesta dose prescribed by your physician.
    • Take the Lunesta dose right before going to bed.
    • Avoid taking other sleeping aids, including over-the-counter medications.
    • Do not take Lunesta unless you are able to devote the next eight hours or more to sleep.
    • Do not drive or operate machinery until you are fully awake after taking Lunesta.

    When Is Treatment Necessary?

    In most cases, when patients struggle with side effects related to their use of Lunesta, they can simply call their doctor and stop using the drug or try a different medication. In some cases, however, the real trouble is that a dependence has developed, and the patient is struggling with managing his or her use of the drug. He may continue to use it despite erratic and dangerous sleep behaviors, accidents, or disruption to his ability to function at work or at home. In these cases, treatment can help.

    If you, or your loved one, are in need of help to stop using Lunesta and to learn how to live a full, healthy life without the use of addictive substances we can help. Contact us at The Canyon today to learn more about treatment options.

    Medline Plus. “Eszopiclone,”May 15, 2016. Accessed February 19, 2017.

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