Lunesta vs Ambien And Other Alternatives To Eszopiclone

Last Updated: May 2, 2024

Ahmed Zayed, MD Authored by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
0 sources cited

Lunesta is a brand name of Eszopiclone which is used to treat people who have difficulty sleeping. Its active ingredient, Eszopiclone, acts by reducing brain activity and calming the body to facilitate sleep. The drug is in the sedative-hypnotics class; a group of medications that treat insomnia.

In the US, studies in 2010 revealed that about 6%-10% of the citizens depended on sleeping pills to help them doze off. Insomnia is common in elderly people and people who have medical and mental health problems. Though the drug is effective at treating sleep disorders it comes with Lunesta side effects which include depression, “hangover” feeling, anxiety, and headache. These side effects can be detrimental which is why there is the need to search for alternatives to Eszopiclone. Ambien is an effective medication that treats short-term sleeping disorders.

Drug Alternatives To Lunesta

Several medications can be used to treat insomnia. These medicines have been classified into 5 drug classes depending on their mechanism of action. The most popular ones are benzodiazepines and sedative-hypnotics.

These drugs work in the brain to produce a sedative effect enabling the body to calmly fall into sleep:

  • Benzodiazepines (Lorazepam, Xanax, and Restoril)
    The MOA of these drug classes is by improving the action of the gamma-aminobutyric acid neurotransmitter (GABA) which is responsible for sending calming messages to the body.
  • Sedative Hypnotics (Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta)
    These drugs work by suppressing brain activity, thus initiating the onset of sleep and sustaining the duration of sleep.
  • Dual Orexin Receptor Antagonists (Belsomra)
    To initiate sleep, dual orexin receptor antagonists lower the action of the orexin receptor produced in the lateral hypothalamus. The orexin receptor promotes wakefulness.
  • Melatonin Receptor Agonists (Rozerem)
    These drugs mimic the naturally occurring hormone that is produced during the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Antidepressants (Mirtazapine)
    Antidepressants work by balancing neurotransmitters to enhance sleep. They either affect histamines or serotonin to initiate sedation.

All these medicines can be used to treat insomnia, however, patients should consult a medical doctor before administering. This is because of the differences in the chemical structures of the medications. Some medications like Benzodiazepines have higher abuse potential. Other drugs under the sedative-hypnotics class can affect the following day’s activity after they have been taken. Therefore, caution should be exercised in administering them.

Drug Alternatives To Lunesta.

Lunesta vs Ambien

Eszopiclone and Ambien belong to the same drug class; sedative-hypnotics. The drugs affect the central nervous system by producing calming effects. Thus, they are used in the treatment of sleeping disorders. Other similarities and differences are listed in the table below.

GENERIC NAME Eszopiclone Zolpidem
DRUG CLASS Sedative-hypnotics Sedative-hypnotics
APPROVED AGE OF USE Approved for use in patients aged 18 years and older Approved for use in patients aged 18 years and older
TREATMENT LENGTH Short-term, between 1-2weeks Short-term, usually up to 4 weeks



  • 1mg
  • 2mg
  • 3mg
Tablets, immediate release

  • 5mg
  • 10mg

Tablets, extended-release

  • 6.25mg (Ambien CR)
  • 12.5mg (Ambien CR)
RISK OF WITHDRAWAL OR OVERDOSE The use of Lunesta shouldn’t be stopped abruptly due to its risk of withdrawal including rebound insomnia, drop in energy levels, anxiety, depression, headaches, vomiting, difficulty concentrating, and dizziness. The risk of withdrawal is the same as Lunesta.

Contrasting Ambien vs Lunesta, both drugs have common side effects such as dizziness, headaches, and nausea. However, the two medications also have rare but dangerous aftereffects which can be fatal. Such side effects include memory loss, depression, confusion, and hallucinations. In Ambien vs Lunesta, the two medicines have a high dependency and risk of withdrawal, therefore, it is advisable to seek medical advice before administering both drugs.

Differences between Eszopiclone and Ambien

Though both medicines treat the same sickness and belong to the same drug class, there are some differences. Eszopiclone is available in 1mg, 2mg, and 3mg while Ambien comes in 5mg and 10mg with its extended-release coming in 6.25mg and 12.5mg. Moreover, Lunesta acts longer than the immediate-release version of Ambien. So, if a patient requires longer sleep, then Eszopiclone is the answer. Finally, comparing Ambien vs Lunesta, Eszopiclone can be habit-forming, which is why the FDA reduced its low dosage from 2mg to 1mg.

Switching from Eszopiclone to Lunesta

Patients may want to switch from Ambien to Eszopiclone due to Zolpidem’s addictive nature. However, addiction depends more on the user than the drug. Also, since Ambien doesn’t take long in the body, its effects may not be lasting. So, it is not uncommon to see patients who suffer chronic insomnia switch from Zolpidem to Eszopiclone. Nevertheless, the switch must be supervised by a medical doctor to ensure it doesn’t pose a health risk to the patient.

Is Eszopiclone Stronger than Ambien?

Though Eszopiclone lasts longer and ensures better sleep and delayed wakefulness than Ambien, there’s no concrete research to prove it’s more potent than Ambien. However, a 2018 survey by the FDA discovered that patients were prescribed Zolpidem more than Eszopiclone although the reason is unknown.

Is Eszopiclone better than Ambien?

Eszopiclone is longer acting, therefore, it helps patients to sleep a bit longer than Ambien. The half-life of Eszopiclone is 6 hours while that of Ambien is 2.5 hours. Eszopiclone can remain in the system for about 24 hours to 48 hours depending on the patient’s metabolism. Thus, Eszopiclone promises a good night’s rest. However, Zolpidem’s controlled-release version is longer acting too but with a half-life of about 4 hours.

Sonata vs Lunesta

Zaleplon, marketed under the brand name Sonata, is also a Lunesta alternative effective in the treatment of insomnia. Its dosage comes in 5mg and 10mg. Just like Eszoplicone, Sonata is a Schedule IV medicine. This means that it has a low potential to be abused or cause dependency. Sonata and Eszoplicone belong to the same drug class – sedative-hypnotics. Thus, both drugs work on the central nervous system to reduce brain activity and induce sleep. Sonata’s half-life is an hour, therefore, comparing Sonata vs Lunesta, Zaleplon was found to improve both sleep and fitness after intake. The two drugs share similar side effects like drowsiness, lack of coordination, anxiety, and a feeling of hangover.

Trazodone vs Lunesta

Trazodone is another Lunesta alternative oral medication that treats anxiety and insomnia. Its brand names include Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose, Oleptro, and Desyrel D. The drug classification of Trazodone is serotonin modulators, also referred to as antidepressants, which is different from the drug class of Eszopiclone. Serotonin is a chemical found in the central nervous system that functions as a neurotransmitter sending messages to neurons throughout the body. While Eszopiclone works by boosting GABA, Trazodone works by blocking the reuptake of Serotonin, to produce a sedative effect. Comparing Trazodone vs Lunesta, Trazodone is also used to treat depression while Eszopiclone only cures insomnia. Trazodone’s side effects include blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Trazodone is not a controlled drug, unlike Eszopiclone, though a prescription is required.

Restoril vs Lunesta.

Xanax vs Lunesta

Xanax is a drug that is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It can also cure sleep disorders. Its generic name is Alprazolam and it is a member of the benzodiazepine drug class. Xanax, just like Eszopiclone, works on the central nervous system by improving the work of certain chemicals (GABA) in the body to help patients relax and fall asleep easily. Xanax comes in two forms – tablets and liquid. Xanax immediate-release tablets are in 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg and 2mg dosages. However, the dosages for the extended-release version are 0.5mg, 1mg, 2mg, and 3mg. Contrasting Xanax vs Lunesta, both medications have similar side effects with slight variations. The common aftereffects of taking Xanax include dizziness, tiredness, drowsiness, and inability to focus. Alprazolam has been demonstrated to severely impair psychomotor skills. So, users are warned to stay away from driving or operating heavy machinery after administration.

Restoril vs Lunesta

Temazepam, often marketed under the brand name Restoril, is also a medication that helps patients sleep quickly, longer and reduces the frequency of patient’s wakefulness. Restoril is also a benzodiazepine – it acts on the brain to produce a calming effect on the body and maintain a longer sleep time. Temazepam is an oral medication that is available in 7.5mg, 15mg, 22.5mg, and 30mg. The drug has been classified as a Schedule IV drug which means it is less likely to be abused or cause dependence. However, it remains a prescription-only drug. Comparing Restoril vs Lunesta, both drugs have the same mechanism of action and similar side effects. These include dizziness, headache, blurred vision, and depression.

Reasons To Consult A Doctor Before Changing Medications

Several reasons can be cited by patients moving from one medication to the other. These reasons can range from patients’ metabolism to drug tolerance and drug-to-drug interactions. However, regardless of the reason for switching medications, be sure to seek medical advice and do the switch under the supervision of a physician. This is to avoid the dangers self-medication imposes.

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Page Sources

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Published on: August 17th, 2021

Updated on: May 2nd, 2024


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