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Eszopiclone (Lunesta): Dosage, Side Effects, Contraindications (Pregnancy)

How does Lunesta work?
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs. Read more

Eszopiclone (Lunesta) is one of the commonly prescribed drugs for treating sleep issues, especially insomnia, as it comes with a calming effect. It is known to improve sleep quality and help fall asleep faster. In this blog, you will learn more about all the main aspects of this medication, including dose, general and rare side effects, and precautions.

Read this article, and you will also know important facts about insomnia, the ways to establish your healthy sleep, whether Lunesta (Eszopiclone) is acceptable for pregnant women and during breastfeeding, and why untreated trouble sleeping can increase the possibility of other health issues development.

Professional medical advice is the best solution for your mental health issues. 

Do You Need Insomnia Medication?

Not frequent night sleep problems you may experience occasionally because of stress or other factors are a normal thing. But if you notice some of the following symptoms for weeks, it might be a reason to see a doctor and get a sleep aid in the form of sleep medication, therapy, or taking certain vitamins and supplements:

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Tendency to suddenly wake up too early and be unable to fall asleep again
  • Feeling sleepy and tired right after waking up
  • Trouble concentrating and a raised number of errors

Based on the results of the healthcare statistics initiated and gathered by the American Sleep Association, 10% of Americans have long-term insomnia. Additional information from the study called National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicated that about 4% of adults in the US (which results in roughly 9 million people) are taking insomnia medications such as Lunesta drug.

Do you still worried how to treat severe insomnia? Take a wise step: connect with a doctor: medical advice will help to reduce symptoms and guide you towards full remission.

How Does Lunesta Work?

Having reviewed the signs of insomnia and the way to get a proper symptoms management plan, let’s learn more about does Lunesta work. Lunesta is not an opioid and belongs to the class of drugs known as a sedative-hypnotics category that bring restful reactions. The exact Eszopiclone mechanism of action is still unknown. Experts believe that Lunesta is one of the agonists as it interacts with GABA receptors — the natural brain chemicals called ‘gamma-aminobutyric acid’. GABA is responsible for the sleep cycle as it inhibits the excitatory processes in the brain.

What Does Lunesta Do to the Brain?

It is quite an unusual situation that according to the latest data and updated content of scientific references on such topics, there is no totally complete understanding of the processes led by this medication. There is no confusion either: it is believed that Lunesta binds to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain and brings calm to the mind (just like relaxants work on achieving decreased muscle tension), which in turn helps a person to sleep.

Lunesta is not a drug of choice for consumers who can get a typical night’s sleep of not less than 7 to 8 hours or close to that period. It is only prescribed by mental health experts who have gone through proper certification and authorization, and patients are advised to take it right before bedtime and not sooner than going to bed. It is also considered that Lunesta is not recommended for infants and children; instead, it is a drug for adults, elderly patients, veterans and only under the strict supervision of professionals certified in the area of mental health.

Is Lunesta a Controlled Substance?

Yes. Many serious adverse effects and abnormal conditions are associated with Lunesta, making it a federally controlled substance, so that not everyone can access it. People taking Lunesta may unconsciously get out of bed and do things they wouldn’t remember later after waking up. This includes acting like fully awake people, such as doing the following things from the list:

  • Sleep driving (driving a vehicle unconsciously)
  • Sleepwalking
  • Talking on the phone
  • Getting intimate
  • Eating food
  • Cooking

Apart from the issues mentioned above, Lunesta goes under strict regulations as it can cause addiction and drug dependence. It is not safe for everyone as it is highly potential to develop substance abuse that can be fatal, and patients who experience such a condition need to get addiction help or, in severe cases, receive assistance in an addiction treatment center or a similar site. Patients in such a special facility get help in quitting the medications, having detox, suicide prevention, dealing with the withdrawal symptoms and maintenance of the normal state, like aggression. In a recovery center, people can also treat the impairment (if any) of abuse or overdose.

What If Lunesta Doesn’t Work?

If you wonder how long does it take for Lunesta to work, the answer to such questions is in the fact that it is a quick-acting medication. It can reach the peak concentration level in a duration of 45 minutes to a bit longer than an hour, on average, and a half-life is up to 48 hours. Such a rapid increase ensures falling asleep quickly and having a deep sleep for 7-8 hours. According to placebo-controlled clinical trials, Lunesta proved to be effective.

The good news is that if you don’t see the desired effect that quickly, it should not mean you must switch from Lunestra to other meds. First, consult with a doctor to know if you should change the dosage. Since 1mg Lunesta or Eszopiclone 1mg is an initial dose in the majority of cases, you can be guided to taking 2 Lunesta or a Lunesta 3 mg tablet before going to bed. Still, the specialist will check your health response to offer extra mental or physical care if Lunesta 2 mg side effects occur and their onset leads to worsening your state.

In the case the dose change doesn’t help, your medication can be replaced with a common Lunesta alternative — Ambien that conducts similar processes and has a comparable effect. The other three common options taken by people with insomnia include Sonata, Zolpidem, and Zaleplon.

Start a new page: enjoy sleeping well and living with a high energy level by treating your insomnia at MEDvidi.

Lunesta Side Effects

Now, we know how to make Lunesta work better, but what is Lunesta side effects that may occur regardless of its effectiveness for you?

Eszopiclone (brand name Lunesta) is an S-isomer of zopiclone and has some serious aftereffects. It belongs to the group of central nervous system (CNS) depressants. The most common and serious ones are listed below, but these are not all the possible options.

Common Serious
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Rashes
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Runny nose
  • Unpleasant taste in your mouth

*The common side effects of Eszopiclone are supposed to go away after some weeks or days and usually don’t require emergency medical help.

  • Doing activities unconsciously which may include talking, cooking, driving, sleepwalking, etc.
  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Sorrow
  • Sore throat
  • Drowsiness
  • Constant feelings of guilt
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Altered interest in having sexual intercourse
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Memory issues
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Anxiety

*The severe effects related to Lunesta should be promptly reported. A person must stop using the drug and directly contact a health professional.


Due to the side effects of Lunesta, a doctor considers many factors while prescribing it for insomnia, such as age, medical history, liver function tests, etc. In addition, the doctors consider your drug drug history because the answer to the question “Is Lunesta addicting?” is positive. The following table summarizes the standard Lunesta dosage for the treatment of insomnia for different age groups.

Don’t know where to start? Confidential consultation in line with privacy policy is just a click away: the doctor will tell about the uses and side effects Eszopiclone has.

Lunesta Dosage for Insomnia

Adults of age 18 and older (up to 64) recommended dose Seniors recommended Lunesta mg doses (65 years & older)
  • Typical dosage: 1 mg/day.
  • When to take Lunesta: before bed
  • The doctor may increase the dosage to 2 mg if the lower dosage is not performing in the needed way
  • Maximum dose: 3 mg/per day
  • Typical Lunesta dose: 1 mg/day before going to bed
  • Maximum dose: 2 mg/day

As was discussed above, Lunesta risks and complications are highly possible, so ensure you only consume it as directed by your prescription provider. Also, remember that stopping the treatment abruptly may cause withdrawal symptoms. Always report the aftereffects and adverse reactions promptly to your doctor.

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Lunesta side effects

What Can Cause Insomnia?

The most common cause of insomnia is stress because of financial, relationship, and other issues. Several physical conditions such as heart diseases, breathing issues, arthritis that comes with transient pain, and cancer can be risk factors too. People who drink alcohol late at night can also face the signs of insomnia. Those who suffer from being overweight or have heavy meals late in the evening with high fat levels in the food, which makes their stomach and other organs work harder. Try activities that counter stress and stick to a healthy diet to boost the chances to prevent insomnia.

What Happens If One Doesn’t Treat Insomnia

Without proper treatment, insomnia can transform into chronic insomnia or cause the development of other physical and mental conditions and affect metabolism. It may lead to the development of continued depression or anxiety, which, in turn, will require additional medications, such as Xanax.

If left untreated, insomnia may significantly influence your day-to-day life. Lack of sleep may lead to behavior changes, relationship and careers issues, lower energy level, swelling, reduced elasticity of the skin, limited alertness, etc. Sleep problems can also cause occurring disorders with physical or mental symptoms that will often require a consultation with a physician and the need to receive inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Although the symptoms of insomnia are widely known, self-diagnostics are not accepted. Any treatment activities require going through a process of a complete evidence-based assessment and getting a diagnosis from a licensed doctor. Regardless of any marketing advice from any advertising company in media, website, or newsletters, you cannot choose medications yourself—it is imperative that you speak with an expert who will ensure the safety of your treatment, and will consult you on the schedule of taking the Eszopiclone dose (prior to going to bed), and share information about benefits and drawbacks of the chosen medication and can search for similar products. 

The specialist will offer you starting an appropriate treatment program that may contain different types of interventions: pharmacological aid in the form of prescription drugs, therapy, or a combined treatment strategy of pills and counseling. You might also be recommended to attend support groups (including the ones for LGBTQ patients)—discussing the challenges in the team of people with the same health issues and a keen interest to support you will enhance your life, aid you to become less reserved, and add valuable social actions to your days. Also, you’ll be able to consult with a therapist for treatment adjustment when needed according to the review of your progress.


Does Lunesta Have a Generic?

Yes, Eszopiclone is a known other version as it is a Lunesta nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic agent.

Does Lunesta cause depression?

Taking any dose of Lunesta for a long time can contribute to the development of depression. Neurosis, anxiety, or paranoia can be experienced in some cases too.

Is it allowed to get prescribed Lunesta in pregnancy?

Lunesta is usually avoided by prescription providers when consulting expectant women. It can be prescribed in a few cases when the potential benefit outweighs the danger. Women who gave birth recently also should go through a detailed consultation with a doctor before taking these meds.

How long does it take for Lunesta to work?

Lunesta starts performing the effects within the first hour of consumption and allows a person to have a good quality sleep of approximately 7 to 8 hours..

What is Lunesta’s half-life?

The Lunesta half-life is about 6 hours, and approximately it requires 24 to 48 hours for all the drugs to be excreted out of the body. Still, its withdrawal symptoms can last from several weeks up to months.

Who should not take Lunesta?

Lunesta is contraindicated for people with the following health conditions:

  • An allergic reaction to any of the drug constituents
  • History of mental health issues, such as depression
  • History of suicidal behavior
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding

The Final Word

Lunesta (Eszopiclone) is a drug commonly prescribed to treat insomnia and related sleep disorders. The optimal dose and direction of use can only be determined by a certified mental health expert because there are potential side effects associated with it. Your doctor might prescribe an alternative medication considering your health issues and personal history.

At MEDvidi, we provide personalized solutions for your sleep issues. Join now.

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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.