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Lunesta Vs. Ambien: Comparison Between Commonly Prescribed Insomnia Medications

Insomnia Medication: Comparison between Lunesta vs. Ambien
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
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.

Different aspects can cause trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You could be stressed out, having intensive activity in the afternoons, taking too much caffeine or alcohol, having broken sleep cycles, and the list goes on. The symptoms of sleeplessness may refer to different conditions, such as depression, but in the majority of cases it is a sign of  insomnia,

and the best way to treat it and avoid having its impact on your body and brain is by getting professional help. The mental health expert will help you with the best interventions and insomnia medication, and in this article, we’ll compare the two most commonly prescribed options, Lunesta vs Ambien, in particular, and some others.

What Is the Drug of Choice for Insomnia?

Lunesta and Ambien are two of the most commonly prescribed medications that can help to manage insomnia symptoms in a short duration. In the case one cannot take Lunesta similar drugs may be prescribed, such as Ambien. Medical Ambien vs Lunesta reviews report that both medications are considered a crucial part of the insomnia treatment plan as they produce a calming effect. They are often prescribed combined with therapy or other therapeutic interventions such as lifestyle changes and meditation.

Also, both meds are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.gov).

Currently, in some cases, antidepressants and muscle relaxants can be prescribed to reduce the symptoms of sleep disorders. These medications can effectively treat insomnia if the information sourced from the results of the medical assessment shows that depression or muscle tension cause your condition.

Mechanism of Action

Both Lunesta and Ambien belong to the medicine class “sedative-hypnotics”. As the name suggests, the mechanism of action of both these medications is built on the fact that they act, influencing the central nervous system and calming the mind. Although they belong to the same class and work similarly, Lunesta (Eszopiclone) and Zolpidem have different ingredients and formulations, which make them different in many aspects, so starting taking them without consulting with a doctor is not allowed.

What Are the Main Differences Between These Medications ?

Both medications are used for the short-term symptoms management of insomnia but vary in form and dosage. The available strengths are as follows:

Lunesta Ambien
  • 1mg, 2 mg, and 3 mg immediate-release tablets
  • Not available in extended-release tablets
  • 5 mg and 10 mg immediate-release oral tablets
  • 6.25 mg and 12.5 mg extended-release tablets (Ambien CR)

Also, Lunesta has a longer half-life which is six hours as compared to Ambien which is 2.5 hours. This means that people taking it will sleep longer. Also, as per common warnings, note that you cannot take an excessive dose of these pills such as 3mg Lunesta vs 10mg Ambien during one day because it can provide medical issues such as difficulty concentrating, worsen driving skills, lead to impaired memory, and more. Active ingredient reaches the critical level leading to such signs in several hours.

Unsure where to start for insomnia treatment? Join MEDvidi to get an online mental health assessment of symptoms, medical advice and treatment.

Which Medicine Is More Effective

Research and clinical studies reference that both Lunesta and Ambient are equally effective and potent for the treatment of insomnia. But keeping the fact that the first one has a longer half-life, the effects of the medicine will remain for longer. This makes Lunesta a better option for some people.

What can Replace Ambien?

Main differences between Lunesta and Ambien

If Eszopiclone with a brand name Lunesta doesn’t work for you, you still can increase the chances to reach relief with the help of other medications. It is to be noted that only a certified mental health expert can determine which medicine can be used safely by an individual. Any of them should only be taken under the strict guidance and supervision of mental health professionals. As for the question above, only a licensed professional can decide whether Lunesta can replace Ambien in your particular case after conducting a detailed examination of your state.

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Cost Of Lunesta vs Ambien : Comparison

The average price of Lunesta is around $504.83 for 30 tablets. The generic version of the medicine (Eszopiclone) prices between $27.15 and $36.63 for 30 tablets. When it comes to Ambien, the average price is around $21.64 per one 5 mg oral tablet, and the generic version of the 5 mg medication (Zolpidem) is $10.77 per tablet. These prices vary depending on your pharmacy of choice and apply only to patients buying medicines in cash, not by using insurance plans.

Aspect Lunesta Ambien

Typical insurance coverage

Yes, the generic version

Yes, the generic version

Medicare part D coverage

Usually covered

Usually covered


1 mg, 2 mg, and 3 mg tablets

5 mg, 6.25 mg, 10 mg and 12.5 mg tablets

Medicare copay

$1-$5 for one tablet

Up to $2 for one tablet

SingleCare charges



Ambien vs Lunesta: Side Effects

Both reviewed medications have side effects associated with them. The common side effects usually go away in some weeks while serious ones need prompt attention and must be addressed by a certified mental health professional as a medical emergency. Also, consult with a doctor if you take other medications to know how these drugs interact.

Common side effects of both medications include drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, nausea, cold, diarrhea, and abnormal dreams. Rarely, sleepwalking can be noticed. People taking Ambien might also experience grogginess and constipation. The rare side effects are almost the same for both the drugs and are as follows:

  • Hallucinations and believing in things that do not exist.
  • Major depressive disorder.
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior.
  • Confusion.
  • Memory loss.
  • Drastic changes in the behavior, such as feeling detached, getting aggressive more often, etc.

Ask your provider to know if you have to stop taking your medication if you experience such symptoms. Side effects can also occur because of medication withdrawal.

Are These Medications Controlled Substances?

Yes. Lunesta (contraindicated for children) and Ambien are federally controlled substances as they are not equally safe for everyone: they are characterized by dependency and probability of getting abused.


Are Lunesta and Ambien the same drugs?

Both Lunesta under the name Eszopiclone and Ambien belong to the same medication class but they differ in their formulation. When choosing between Lunesta vs Ambien high emphasis is on one’s symptoms and overall health condition that should be considered because of possible side effects. 

Which medication is better?

Both drugs are prescribed for the treatment of insomnia and experts believe the efficacy is the same. However, the effects of Lunesta on symptom management are longer than that of Ambien. Note that only a certified mental health professional can determine the suitable drug for an individual.

Can Lunesta and Ambien be prescribed in pregnancy?

A doctor may only prescribe these drugs if they determine the need for prescribing considering the condition and intensity of insomnia in a patient.

Bottom Line

Lunesta and Ambien are considered to be potent insomnia medications as their efficacy is similar. However, the drugs differ in their formulation and have specific adverse effects based on their active ingredient.

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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.