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If a person abuses Lunesta for recreational purposes here are other long-term Lunesta side effects that could become severe. Discover the side effects, warnings, and signs of Lunesta addiction and overdose.

By We Level Up NJ Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: April 26, 2023

Lunesta Side Effects Sleeping Pills Effects

While Lunesta can help with insomnia, it has mixed potential side effects. With prolonged use for more than a few months or with regular alcohol consumption or even dietary supplements, these risks increase dramatically. Side effects from Lunesta include grave contra-indications. Taking several medications simultaneously could have life-threatening repercussions for the body’s organs.

Doctors must be informed about any other prescription drugs being taken to ensure proper safety measures. Only users who plan to get no less than seven hours of sleep should consider using Lunesta sleeping pills.

What Is Lunesta?

Lunesta is the brand name for the drug eszopiclone. It is a sedative and part of the non-benzodiazepine drug class. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) [1], Lunesta is used to treat insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep). Lunesta is in a class of medications called hypnotics. It works by slowing activity in the brain to allow sleep.

However, because of its high potential for abuse, addiction, and dangerous interactions with other substances and medications, doctors only prescribe Lunesta as a short-term treatment method for insomnia. Lunesta comes as a tablet to take by mouth [2]. It is usually taken once a day at bedtime or after unsuccessfully falling asleep.

When this drug is abused in high doses for an extended period, the user will likely experience withdrawal symptoms if they discontinue its use, especially if they do so suddenly. In addition, individuals frequently abuse Lunesta with opioid drugs and alcohol, increasing the risk of overdose and dependence. 

Lunesta affects Gamma-Aminobutyric Acidreceptors (GABA). This medication can calm neural activity and slow the central nervous system, helping people fall asleep and stay asleep. It is also referred to as a “z-drug.” According to Women’s Health [2], Women may be more prone to abusing sleeping pills than men, as two-thirds of the emergency department visits for the non-medical use of sleeping pills were for women in 2010.

Although its makers claim that Lunesta offers nothing more than a refreshing night’s sleep, it can have serious Lunesta side effects – and an overdose of this medication can be life-threatening.
Although its makers claim that Lunesta offers nothing more than a refreshing night’s sleep, it can have severe Lunesta side effects – and an overdose of this medication can be life-threatening.

Lunesta Side Effects Warnings

While Lunesta (eszopiclone) is generally considered safe, some rare but potentially serious side effects could occur, including:

  1. Severe allergic reactions include difficulty breathing, hives, facial, lips, tongue, or throat swelling.
  2. Suicidal thoughts or actions
  3. Memory loss or amnesia
  4. Confusion
  5. Depression
  6. Aggressive behavior
  7. Behavioral changes

If you experience any of these dangerous side effects, it is vital to seek immediate medical attention.

Short-term Lunesta Side Effects

Lunesta (eszopiclone) is a medication employed for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Despite its effectiveness, it can also produce adverse side effects. Typical side effects of Lunesta include:

  1. Dizziness
  2. Drowsiness
  3. Dry mouth
  4. Headache
  5. Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  6. Reduced coordination
  7. Difficulty with attention or memory

Most people who take Lunesta do not experience severe side effects. However, if you notice any persistent or severe side effects after taking this medication, you should immediately contact your doctor.

You should inform your doctor of any medications you may be taking, as they can interact with Lunesta and produce unwanted side effects.

Lunesta may cause a severe allergic reaction. Stop taking this drug and get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction or side effects for Lunesta, such as hives; vomiting, nausea; difficulty breathing; or swelling of your face, tongue, lips, or throat.

Some individuals using Lunesta have engaged in activity while not fully awake and later had no memory of it. This may include driving, walking, or making phone calls. If this happens, stop taking this medication and call your doctor immediately.

Lunesta may be habit-forming. Misuse can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.

Lunesta will make you fall asleep. Never take this medicine during your regular waking hours unless you have at least 7 to 8 hours to dedicate to sleeping.

Insomnia symptoms may also return after you stop taking Lunesta and may even worsen. Tell your doctor if you still have worsened insomnia after the first few nights without Lunesta.

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these Eszopiclone side effects may occur, they may need medical attention if they do occur.

Common Side Effects for Lunesta

An image of what Lunesta typically looks like.
An image of what Lunesta typically looks like.

The most common side effects for Lunesta (eszopiclone) include:

  1. Dry mouth
  2. Drowsiness or dizziness
  3. Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  4. Headache
  5. Nausea
  6. Heartburn
  7. Stomach discomfort
  8. Changes in appetite.

If you experience any persistent or severe side effects from Lunesta, notify your healthcare provider.

Learn More:

Severe Side Effects from Lunesta

Some rare but potentially severe side effects of Lunesta include:

  • Hallucinations,
  • Suicidal thoughts, and
  • Allergic reactions.

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

It’s also worth noting that Lunesta may interact with other medications or substances, such as alcohol or opioids. You must inform your doctor of any other drugs or substances you may consume to avoid negative interactions.

Taking Lunesta as your healthcare provider prescribes is crucial. Avoid taking higher doses or using it more frequently than directed. Doing so can increase the risk of severe side effects and potential addiction or dependence on the medication.

In summary, while Lunesta can be an effective short-term treatment for insomnia, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects and to take the medication as directed by your healthcare provider. If you experience any concerning symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

Most Common Side Effects of Lunesta

Consult with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects from Lunesta occur:

  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Hoarseness
  • Dizziness
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Bitter taste in the mouth

Less common side effects Eszopiclone include:

  • Bladder pain
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Discouragement
  • Fear or nervousness
  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • A general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Joint pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of interest or pleasure
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Nerve pain
  • Runny nose
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • Shivering
  • Sore throat
  • Sweating
  • Trouble concentrating

Lunesta Fact Sheet

Also Known As: Eszopiclone

Brands: Lunesta

Availability: Prescription needed

Pregnancy: Consult a doctor

Alcohol: Avoid. Very serious interactions can occur

Drug class: Nonbenzodiazepine

Is Lunesta A Sedative?

Sedative-hypnotic Lunesta is frequently prescribed to treat sleep disturbances. Its potential for addiction is minimized because it is a prescription medication and is frequently accepted as a secure sleep aid.

Lunesta And Pregnancy

Although sedative-hypnotic medications like Ambien (zolpidem), Lunesta (eszopiclone), and Sonata (zalepion) are frequently prescribed to women with sleep problems, there is currently insufficient information about their safety during pregnancy.

What Drug Class Is Lunesta In?

Eszopiclone is a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic medication used to treat insomnia and is sold by Sepracor under the trade name Lunesta. It is the zopiclone active stereoisomer and a member of the cyclopyrrolone medication class.

Lunesta Availability

The first and only hypnotic approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the long-term treatment of insomnia is Sepracor’s Lunesta (eszopiclone) 1mg, 2mg, and 3mg tablets, which are now accessible by prescription in the majority of US pharmacies.

Lunesta And Alcohol

Due to how they affect the brain’s GABA receptors, sleeping medicines like Lunesta already have a high potential of leading to dependence. The risk of psychological dependence is higher among people who have a history of mental diseases, substance misuse, or alcoholism.

Although Lunesta is not a benzodiazepine or an opioid, using it with alcohol can have the same disastrous effects as taking other depressants. There are several cumulative consequences when CNS depressants are used with one another, including the potential for deadly overdose.

Those who are prescribed Lunesta are very explicitly told not to take it if they have taken alcohol in warning labels and prescription guidelines. This is due to the fact that Lunesta overdoses and fatalities have only ever happened in conjunction with alcohol and other depressants.

Combining CNS depressants can result in users becoming extremely sleepy and having problems breathing because of how CNS depressants work. While Lunesta by itself may help a person feel calm, using it alongside other depressants increases the risk of serious adverse effects.

Lunesta Addiction Statistics

Lunesta addiction is real and dangerous. Many cases have been reported of people abusing Lunesta and experiencing dangerous side effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States estimate that 10 million Americans use prescription sleep medications like Lunesta.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2018, approximately 1.9 million people aged 12 or older reported misusing sedatives, including Lunesta, in the past year. Misusing sedatives can lead to addiction, dependence, and other health problems.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that in 2017, there were over 4,400 admissions to substance abuse treatment programs for primary abuse of non-benzodiazepine sedatives, which includes Lunesta.

It’s also worth noting that long-term use of Lunesta or other sedatives can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when the medication is discontinued. This is why it’s important not to exceed the recommended dosage or frequency of use and to seek medical guidance before quitting the medication.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Lunesta addiction or misuse, it’s essential to seek help from a healthcare provider or a substance abuse treatment professional. They can provide guidance and support in safely discontinuing the medication and developing a recovery plan.

10 Million

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States estimate that 10 million Americans use prescription sleep medications like Lunesta.

Source: CDC

21 Million

According to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study, about 21 million Americans admitted to abusing prescription sleeping pills like Lunesta at least once.

Source: FDA


According to a 2016 study, people who regularly take hypnotics and sleep aids like Lunesta have a 15% higher risk of dying at night from respiratory suppression.

Source: NIH

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What Is Lunesta Used For?

Lunesta is slightly effective in treating insomnia, where difficulty falling asleep is the primary complaint. Lunesta belongs to the class of medications called sedative-hypnotics. It is used for the short-term and symptomatic relief of sleep disturbances. It can help individuals with difficulty falling asleep, frequent wake-ups during the night, or early morning awakenings. 

This medication should not be taken more than seven to ten days in a row. It should be used only by people for whom disturbed sleep results in problems functioning during the day. Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms. It can harm people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

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Lunesta Side Effects & Warnings

There are several potential side effects of Eszpiclone, especially if someone takes these prescription drugs for more than a few months. While physicians monitor their patients for symptoms and Lunesta side effects, including addictive behaviors, it is crucial for individuals who receive a Lunesta prescription from discussing any concerns they have about Lunesta side effects, both short-term and long-term, with their medical professionals.

Individuals who do not plan to get more than seven hours of sleep should not take this medication, and those who regularly drink alcohol or take certain dietary supplements should not consume this drug. It is essential to inform doctors about any other prescription medications you are taking because combining this prescription with other drugs can be dangerous to organ systems like the kidneys, liver, or brain [3].

Short-term Lunesta Side Effects

Somnambulism is one of the more severe side effects. People who take this drug may get out of bed and hold a conversation, eat a large amount of food, leave the house, or even engage in sexual activity while still asleep. This side effect can worsen when Lunesta is mixed with alcohol, and recreational or illegal drugs.

Another side effect of this prescription drug, which can be worsened when combined with alcohol or drugs, is the possibility of not being fully awake or alert the next day. Suppose someone takes Lunesta as a prescription [4]. In that case, it is crucial to follow all the prescribing doctor’s advice, such as getting at least seven hours of sleep and taking only the smallest required dose, to reduce this possibility.

However, if Lunesta is taken recreationally or in combination with recreational drugs or alcohol, it is possible that the individual will not wake up completely from sleep the next day. This puts the person in physical danger, mainly if operating heavy machinery or driving. Usually, the individual suffering this Lunesta side effects will feel awake and alert for the most part but could still suffer sleep-related hallucinations or other effects of this hypnotic medication.

Occasionally, an individual may feel hungover after taking Lunesta. This feeling can heighten if Lunesta is taken in too large a quantity, with alcohol, or combined with other recreational drugs. Headaches become worse or more common and feeling fatigued, dehydrated, and depressed.

The potential for Lunesta side effects increases when an individual takes this medication for longer than necessary, without doctor supervision, in too high a dose, or combination with recreational drugs or alcohol [5].

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Long Term Side Effects Of Lunesta

A long-term Lunesta side effect of taking this medication is tolerance to the drug. This means the individual will have to consume higher doses to feel the same impact. When Lunesta is finished as a prescription and monitored by a medical professional, when tolerance develops, the prescribing physician can either switch the person to another medication or help the person stop taking Lunesta and try other insomnia treatments.

However, if a person misuses or abuses the insomnia medication for recreational purposes or struggles with an addiction to Lunesta, other long-term Lunesta side effects could become severe. Memory loss can happen in some situations, even when the person follows the prescribing doctor’s instructions.  However, amnesia can become a frequent problem when taken in too large quantities.

Individuals who struggle with Lunesta-related amnesia forget events while on the drug, either due to sleepwalking and related activities or because the Lunesta directly affects the brain and prevents the person from adequately forming memories. Amnesia could be a side effect of too large a dose, so individuals should consult their doctors about lowering the dosage. It could be a side effect of addiction or combining this drug with alcohol or other drugs. Also, Lunesta can cause problems with cognitive function over time. 

Psychological problems may develop with long-term consumption of Lunesta as well. Pre-existing depression can get worse, suicidal thoughts may develop, and neurosis and anxiety may be present. With very long-term abuse, the drug can cause paranoia and hallucinations. 

Long-term use or abuse of this drug can also lead to a loss of coordination and fine motor control. Uncontrollable eye movements, called nystagmus, can start, and muscles may shake, twitch, and weaken. In addition, the person may experience inflammation of the whites of the eyes (conjunctivitis), sensitivity to light, and dry eyes. The individual may also develop tinnitus or ear ringing that worsens.

Don’t drink alcohol before or while taking these medicines. Together they may be more likely to cause serious alcohol and Lunesta side effects.
Don’t drink alcohol before or while taking these medicines. Together they may be more likely to cause severe alcohol and Lunesta long-term side effects.

An individual can experience increasingly poor reflexes and other musculoskeletal problems, such as inflamed joints, which become painful or stiff. Other parts of the body may also suffer from inflammation, especially the lungs in people who suffer from allergies or asthma. Inflammation in the lungs can reduce breathing capacity and make these conditions worse.

Since medications are filtered through the kidneys and liver when they are digested, Lunesta’s long-term side effects abuse or addiction to this medication can lead to kidney and liver damage. The likelihood of this increases if the individual already suffers from kidney or liver disease.

Are the Side Effects of Lunesta Reversible?

While short-term side effects of Lunesta may be reversible, it is not clear to what extent Lunesta side effects long term can be reversed. If an individual suffers episodes of amnesia due to Lunesta misuse or abuse, then the person will not be able to regain those memories. However, mood swings and cognitive issues can clear up after withdrawing from Lunesta. More severe side effects like kidney, liver, and lung damage may or may not clear up, depending on how long the person suffered from addiction to Lunesta.

High Doses Trigger Lunesta Side Effects

The central nervous system (CNS) regulates the body’s autonomous processes, such as digestion and breathing. Since Lunesta functions by depressing the central nervous system and slowing down activity in the brain, taking too much of this medication can lower those autonomous functions to alarmingly low levels – or stop them completely.

Lunesta overdose symptoms can vary from relatively mild to life-threatening. Mild Lunesta overdose symptoms from consuming just a little too much can include extreme grogginess and more severe versions of typical Lunesta side effects such as forgetfulness, poor coordination, and problems concentrating.

Higher doses of this drug can also trigger the more potentially dangerous and dramatic Lunesta side effects. Individuals taking high doses of Lunesta are more likely to experience risky “sleep activity” when users drive, walk, eat, have sex, and do many other things while under the influence of the medication.

Lunesta Interactions

Drug interactions could alter how your medications function or raise the possibility of serious negative side effects. All possible drug interactions are not covered in this document. Keep a list of everything you use, including herbal products, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications, and give it to your doctor and pharmacist. Without your doctor’s approval, never start, stop, or change the dosage of any medications.

Sodium oxybate is a substance that could interact with this medication.

Inform your physician or pharmacist if you are taking any additional medications that make you drowsy, such as alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), sedatives (such as lorazepam, zolpidem, or alprazolam), muscle relaxants (such as carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine), or antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine).

All of your medications, including allergy and cold/cough remedies, should have their labels read carefully because they may contain drowsiness-inducing ingredients. Inquire with your pharmacist about the safe use of those products.

Lunesta and zopiclone are very similar. While taking Lunesta, avoid taking medications that contain zopiclone.

Lunesta Overdose

However, users can become unresponsive and unconscious in large doses or quantities. Breathing can even stop, depriving the brain of the necessary oxygen. Too much of the drug can also lower the heart rate, drop blood pressure, and cause blood to fail to circulate properly. Lunesta can cause coma, brain damage, or death when consumed in high doses or combined with other medications.

Most individuals who overdose on this drug recover from the experience, but getting help is crucial. That help depends on whether the person has used Lunesta alone or with other drugs or substances. Lunesta overdose alone can be treated with an antagonist called Flumazenil combined with general supportive care to improve respiration and heart rate.

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Causes of Lunesta Overdose

An overdose of Lunesta might be an isolated accident or a symptom of a more significant issue, especially if other substances are involved too. Lunesta isn’t a narcotic, but because it can be highly addictive, stopping it abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms similar to typically addictive drugs like heroin and alcohol.

Lunesta overdose can also mean depression or an equivalent mood disorder that’s connected with thoughts of suicide – and those kinds of thoughts can be triggered by Lunesta itself, too. It’s crucial to find and address the underlying issues leading to the overdose and treat the immediate symptoms.

Top Lunesta Side Effects FAQs

  1. Is it normal to experience Lunesta side effects and weight gain?

    Wondering, “is it normal to experience Lunesta weight gain side effects”, the answer is other sleep medications like eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zolpidem (Ambien) have not been connected to weight gain.

  2. Is it normal to experience Lunesta side effects weight loss?

    A very uncommon side effect of Lunesta is weight loss. Some users of this medication report unintentional weight loss, which may be related to its unpleasant or bitter aftertaste and dry mouth, which can cause appetite loss.

  3. What are side effects of Lunesta?

    if you are wondering, “what are the side effects of Lunesta?”, “What are the side effects of Lunesta sleeping pill” or “what is Lunesta side effects?” the answer is that the common side effects of Lunesta are chills, cough, fever, hoarseness, dizziness, lower back or side pain, painful or difficult urination, sleepiness, unusual drowsiness, headache, and bitter taste in the mouth.

  4. What are the side effects of Lunesta and alcohol?

    There are several additive effects when CNS depressants are combined, including the potential for fatal overdose. Those prescribed Lunesta are explicitly told not to take it if they have consumed alcohol in warning labels and medication guides.

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Lunesta side effects
Every addiction treatment program should assess incoming clients for co-occurring mental health issues to ensure the best chances of a complete recovery for each individual.

During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your abuse and addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with Lunesta side effects brought about by misuse, abuse, or addiction, get them the safest help they need and deserve. Our We Level Up NJ clinical team offers a safe and medically-assisted Lunesta detox. Contact We Level Up NJ today to get the help you deserve!

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[1] NIH – Lunesta Side Effects reviewed.

[2] NCBI – and Lunesta Side Effects.

[3] NCBI – plus Lunesta Side Effects and overdose.

[4] SAMHSA – Lunesta Side Effects and treatments.

[5] FDA – Lunesta Side Effects risks.

RxList. (2015). “Lunesta”. Retrieved on October 30, 2015 from: Lunesta Side Effects and interactions.

Care2. (2014). “3 Reasons to Break the Sleeping Pill Habit + How to Sleep Better Naturally”. Retrieved on October 30, 2015 from:, “Could Lunesta Cause Alopecia?” (2012) Comment Forums, “Informing Sepracor About Lunesta Problems,” retrieved 11 July 2012
Daniel F. Kripke, M.D.,