Lunesta vs Ambien. Comparison of Insomnia Medications

November 14, 2022
Lunesta vs Ambien. Comparison of Insomnia Medications
Lunesta vs Ambien. Comparison of Insomnia Medications

Insomnia is a prevalent sleep disorder that affects approximately a third of Americans. Some people have a problem falling asleep; others struggle to remain asleep, while some can only manage a few hours of sleep. Insomnia harms a person’s quality of life and requires treatment. Clinicians may prescribe sleep aids like Lunesta and Ambien for sleep problems.

Ambien and Lunesta are in the class of non-benzodiazepine and sedative-hypnotics sleep medications. The two prescription drugs interact with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the neurotransmitters that regulate brain excitability. Both of them usually calm the brain and enable a person to fall asleep. Though the two medications have a similar purpose, they have different formulations and effects.

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Uses of Lunesta vs. Ambien

The two prescription medications are recommended for short-term sleep disorders and temporary insomnia treatment. Lunesta and Ambien are not as potent as barbiturates or benzodiazepines, but they still have high efficacy in treating sleep problems. The medications are used for a short period since they are potentially addictive. A long term use may also cause drug tolerance and make the sleep aids ineffective.

Lunesta and Ambien are both FDA-approved to treat sleep disorders. Though they are used for short-term use, they can sometimes treat chronic insomnia or long-term sleep problems. Both sleep medications enable patients to fall asleep faster and remain asleep longer. Patients that use either Lunesta or Ambien report similar sleep improvement experiences.

Ambien Generics and Dosage

Ambien generic version is Zolpidem Tartrate. The drug is available in tablets of 5 mg and 10 mg strength. The medication is available as a regular oral tablet and also has an extended-release version. The extended-release Ambien CR pill is available in 6.25 mg and 12.5 mg strengths. Ambien dosage recommended for daily administration is an initial 5 or 10 mg. Dosage may be reviewed to suit a patient’s unique condition.

Ambien CR lasts longer than regular Ambien as it releases the active ingredient slowly. Ambien takes effect an hour and a half after administration and has a half-life of 2.5 hours.

Lunesta Generics and Dosage

Lunesta is a brand name for medication with Eszopiclone components. Eszopiclone is Lunesta’s generic version. The medication is available in a pill of 1mg, 2mg, and 3mg.

Lunesta dosage is 1 mg initially and can be increased to a maximum of 3 mg daily dose taken at bedtime. The dose can be reviewed to suit people with liver problems or the elderly. Lunesta takes effect approximately an hour after administration and has a half-life of about six hours.

Lunesta vs Ambien for sleep

Side Effects

Ambien Lunesta
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Drugged feeling
  • Grogginess
  • Headache
  • Common cold symptoms 
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth 
  • Headache
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Weird dreams

Ask your doctor about the medication and its dosage that will work best for you.

Lunesta and Ambien Warnings

Both sleep aids can cause severe or fatal side effects. In unique cases, the medications can cause complex sleep behaviors. Some of these effects include:

  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep driving
  • Mental changes
  • Memory loss
  • Allergic reactions
  • Significant drowsiness that can impair a patient’s ability to remain alert, concentrate or focus
  • Worsened depression
  • Suicide ideations

Contacting a clinician when one experiences any of the above severe side effects is crucial. Lunesta and Ambien dosage or discontinuation should only be with a doctor’s guidance.

Ambien vs Lunesta, which is better?

Both medications have comparable efficacy for treating sleep disorders and insomnia. Ambien has a shorter half-life of 2.5 hours, while Lunesta has six hours. Lunesta takes effect faster. However, Ambien may help a person sleep more quickly depending on the prescribed dosage. The best sleep aid of the two is determined by the unique nature of the patient’s condition. A clinician may prescribe alternative sleep medication like over-the-counter Melatonin or Zaleplon (Sonata) instead of Lunesta or Ambien if these medicines do not manage insomnia.

Ambien and Lunesta dosage

Lunesta and Ambien: Withdrawal Effects

Stopping Ambien or Lunesta suddenly may cause fatal withdrawal symptoms as they affect and adjust the brain’s excitability. When the medication is withdrawn, a patient may experience overstimulation of the nervous system. The user may also experience other withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Muscle spasms
  • Mood swings

Severe withdrawal effects include seizures, panic, confusion, and heart complications. A person should consult a clinician in case of severe symptoms.


Lunesta and Ambien are FDA-approved prescription sleep medications. The two are effective for sleep disorders treatment and are recommended for short-term use to prevent addiction. Though the pills have similar work mechanisms, they have different formulations. A patient can use Lunesta or Ambien to treat sleep disorders, as both have comparable efficacy. In case of severe side effects or withdrawal symptoms, it is advisable to consult a clinician for dosage or medication review.


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