Treacherous Side Effects of Lunesta To Watch Out For

It's damn hard to find a reliable sleep aid that can be used in the long-term without fear of ill-health effects.

The really effective sleep aids have frightening side effects like withdrawal and dependence, and even neurotoxicity. I'm talking about drugs like GHB.

The sleep aids that are relatively benign are only modestly effective. They're often not helpful for people with serious, intractable insomnia.

Lunesta (eszopiclone) occupies a kind of middle ground. It's not the worst offender. There are prescription sleep aids on the market with harsher side effects.

I'm not qualified to provide to provide medical advice. But if I was, I would tell people to start with sleep aids with the lowest downside risk. Supplements like lavender, and lifestyle interventions like partaking in regular, vigorous exercise can really help resolve sleep issues.

But there are some folks who won't sleep no matter how much exercise they get. That's when you look to prescription sleep aids. The health consequences of chronic low sleep quality and sleep restriction are dire.

Lunesta Side Effects - Just How Bad Are They?

Before we jump in to Lunesta's adverse effect profile:

What is Eszopiclone (Lunesta)?

Eszopiclone is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic agent belonging to the cyclopyrrolone class of chemical agents.

It is a white to light yellow crystalline solid formulated as film coated tablets for oral administration.

Eszopiclone is indicated for the treatment of insomnia. It decreases sleep latency (the time it takes you to fall asleep) and improves sleep maintenance when administered before bedtime.

In brief, lunesta is a z-drug, similar to Ambien (zolpidem), that alleviates insomnia by activating GABA receptors.

Worrisome Lunesta Side Effects

By and large the most concerning side effects of Lunesta are neurological.

One double-blind, placebo-controlled study reported an association between eszopiclone use and profound amnesia and psychomotor impairment.

Study participants were subjected to a battery of tests designed to evaluate:

  • psychomotor coordination, correlated with the ability to maintain a motor vehicle in the driving lane
  • working memory
  • self-perception of sedation and coordination following consumption of eszopiclone the previous night

The authors concluded that eszopiclone resulted in next morning- psychomotor and memory impairment that was most severe 7.5h post administration and was still clinically meaningful nearly 12 hours later.

Withdrawal Symptoms

According to the FDA, there's no question that Eszopiclone is linked to withdrawal and dependence with long-term use.

This is not surprising; z-drugs like Lunesta (eszopiclone) bind the GABA receptor. GABAergic drugs are well-known to be habit-forming, the most famous example being Xanax.

In one 6 month double-blind study, participants treated with eszopiclone experienced clinically relevant levels of anxiety following discontinuation.

Other less frequent symptoms associated with discontinuation were:

  • abnormal dreams
  • hyperesthesia
  • neurosis

Study participants also reported rebound-insomnia after discontinuing Lunesta (eszopiclone).

On the first night after stopping Lunesta, both sleep latency and sleep efficiency were impaired. (Sleep latency is the time it takes you to fall asleep from the moment your head hits the pillow. Sleep efficiency is the percentage of time you're actually sleeping verses the time you spend in bed).

Moreover, the numbers of awakenings during the night were increased.

Eszopiclone's withdrawal symptoms are textbook and predictable. Eszopiclone use for extended periods leads to pharmacodynamic tolerance, which is exacerbated by its short elimination half-life. (It tends to be the case that drugs with short half-lives have more abuse potential).

Does Alcohol Interact With Eszopiclone?

The FDA reports that alchohol has a profound effect on individuals taking eszopiclone. Specifically, an additive effect on psychomotor performance was seen with co-administration of eszopiclone and ethanol 0.70 g/kg for up to 4 hours after ethanol administration. On that note, ethanol consumption should be avoided when taking Lunesta.

Should You Take Lunesta (Eszopiclone) For Insomnia?

Eszopiclone is an effective non-benzodiazepine hypnotic. There's no doubt that the drug improves quality of life in people suffering from insomnia.

It's true that Lunesta (eszopiclone) is linked to some frightening side effects. But patients should stick to their treatment regimen because they're physician has decided that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Every drug has side effects. Hence, prescribing medicine is always a cost/benefit analysis done by the physician.

Nevertheless, individuals taking Lunesta should be aware of the possible side effects. You should also report side effects to your physician. Your physician may discontinue Lunesta or adjust your dose depending on what you report. Some side effects aren't tolerable and others are life-threatening.

Pharmacology of Eszopiclone

The precise mechanism of action of eszopiclone is not known but it is thought to be similar to other clinically available non-benzodiazepine hypnotic. Specifically, it is assumed to interact with GABA-receptor complexes showing affinity for binding domains located close to or allosterically coupled to benzodiazepine receptors, ultimately enhancing the activity of these receptors.

What are the Dosages of Eszopiclone?

Lunesta tablets are available in dosages of 1mg, 2mg, or 3mg of eszopiclone and are formulated using the following inactive ingredients: calcium phosphate, colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, hypromellose, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide, and triacetin.

What are the Adverse-Effects of Eszopiclone?

As with every clinically available medication eszopiclone comes with its unwanted side effects. The side effects following have been generated following in detail analysis of the clinical trials conducted in order for the drug to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as reported by patients involved in the study:

Lunesta's Adverse Events

Lunesta's side effect profile is not so different from other drugs in the same class (e.g., Ambien).

Nervous System


Dizziness, Migraines, Drowsiness


Ataxia, Hypesthesia, Hypertonia, Decreased reflexes and Incoordination, Memory Impairment, Neurosis, Involuntary Eye Movement and Paresthesias


Abnormal movement of the limbs, Hyperesthesia, Hypokinesia, Neuritis, Neuropathy, Stupor and Tremor

Post-marketing reports: Alteration of the perception of smell



Anxiety, Confusion, Depression, Hallucinations, Abnormal Dreams and Nervousness


Difficulty in concentrating, Agitation, Apathy, Excessive emotional reactions and frequent mood changes, Hostility, Insomnia



Hallucinations have been reported to occur more frequently with higher doses of eszopiclone.



Accumulation of fluids in the peripheral vascular system


High Blood Pressure


Inflammation of the veins due to a thrombus (Thrombophlebitis)





Acne, Hair loss (Alopecia), Cellulitis, Contact Dermatitis, Dry Skin, Eczema, Skin Discoloration, Excess Sweating, Hives


Erethyma multiforme, Boils, Excessive bodily hair growth, Maculopapular Rash, Vesicolobullous Rash, Angioedema

The incidents of a simple rash occurs in a dose-dependent manner.


Very Common

Unpleasant taste in the mouth and Diarrhea


Dry mouth, Indigestion, Nausea, Vomiting


Gallstones, Bad Breath, Dark-Colored Stools, Mouth Ulcerations, Increased Thirst, and Ulcerative Stomatitis


Colitis, Difficulty in swallowing, gastritis, rectal hemorrhage, stomach ulcers, inflammation of the mouth, swelling of the tongue

Urinary System


Menstrual Cramps, Increases in the size of male breast tissue, Decreases in sex drive


Absence of menstrual periods, Breast Engorgement, Breast Enlargement, Breast Neoplasm, Breast Pain, Cystitis, Painful Urination, female lactation, Passing of blood in the urine, Kidney Stones, Kidney Pain, Mastitis, Bloody menstrual periods, Urinary Frequency, Uterine Hemorrhage, Urinary Incontinence, Vaginal Hemorrhage and Vaginitis


Low output of urine, Kidney Infections, Urethritis



Anemia, Inflammation of the lymph nodes



Hepatitis, Enlargement of the liver, liver damage

Immune System


Viral Infections


Herpes zoster related infection



Loss of appetite, increased cholesterol levels in the blood, increased appetite, weight changes


Dehydration, gout, increased lipids in the blood, decreased blood potassium levels

Musculoskeletal System


Arthritis, Bursitis, Joint Disorder (mainly swelling, stiffness, and pain), Leg Cramps, Muscle Weakness, Neck Rigidity and Muscle Twitching


Arthrosis, Myopathy, Back pain, Muscle pain



Conjunctivitis, Dry Eyes


Inflammation of the Iris, Dilation of the pupils, sensitivity to light, dropping eye lid



Respiratory infections


Asthma, Bronchitis, Difficulty breathing, Nosebleeds, Hiccups, Laryngitis,
Very rare: Pharyngitis, Rhinitis


Rare cases of allergic reactions have been reported following ingestion of Lunesta tablets. Specifically, swelling of the tongue, glottis, larynx along with dyspnea and throat closing have been reported all of which are indicative of anaphylactic shock.

Other Adverse Effects


Chest Pain


Earache, Face swelling, Fever, Heat stroke, Hernias, Fatigue, Otitis Externa, Otitis Media, Ringing in the ears, Vertigo, Vestibular Disorder



Very Rare

Accidental Injuries, Pain

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Xavier Kent

I'm interested in nutrition, nootropics, and javascript. I'm a firm believer in getting really good at one thing.


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