Table of contents


15 min read

Lunesta vs Ambien: How to Know Which to Take

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: Mar 10, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

Table of contents

Finding the right treatment for insomnia can be an exhausting process. Two commonly prescribed options are Lunesta and Ambien, both of which have been proven to fight insomnia symptoms and sleep disorders. But how does Lunesta vs Ambien compare and how do you know which to take?

In this post, we dig into these two prescription sleep aids to help you find the right answer for you.

If you’re trying to determine whether Lunesta vs Ambien or another sleep medication is right for you, Klarity can help. Klarity connects you with a licensed medical provider who can discuss your symptoms, review your medical history, and create a personalized insomnia treatment plan.

To learn more about which prescription sleep aids could be right for you, schedule an appointment on Klarity today. 

What Is Lunesta?

Lunesta, known scientifically as eszopiclone, is a prescription medication belonging to the sedative-hypnotic class of drugs. This medication primarily helps people who struggle with insomnia by helping them fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer, providing a more restful and uninterrupted sleep.

Conditions Lunesta Treats

Lunesta is most commonly used to treat insomnia, a condition characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. By working on the brain’s chemical imbalance, Lunesta enables you to achieve a full, restful night’s sleep and wake up refreshed.

Lunesta Forms and Dosages

Lunesta comes in tablet form and is usually available in three doses: 1 mg, 2 mg, and 3 mg. The appropriate dosage depends on your specific condition, age, and overall health status and should always be determined by a healthcare professional.

What Should I Do If I Miss A Dosage?

If you miss a dose of Lunesta, take it as soon as possible if you still have enough time to get a full night’s sleep. If you don’t have enough time, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosage schedule. Avoid taking two doses at one time.

Lunesta should be used on an as-needed basis. So if you miss a dose, you likely did not need it in the moment to fall asleep.

Can You Overdose On Lunesta?

Yes, it’s possible to overdose on Lunesta, which can lead to severe health complications. Symptoms of overdose may include excessive sleepiness, severe confusion, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.

Lunesta Costs

The cost of Lunesta can vary based on the dosage and your location. It’s recommended to check with your local pharmacy or insurance provider for specific pricing details. Generic versions of Lunesta may also be available at a lower cost.

Side Effects of Lunesta

While Lunesta is generally well-tolerated, side effects can occur. These may include drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, or an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Most people do not experience severe side effects, but if they occur, immediate medical attention is required.

Complex sleep behaviors, like sleepwalking or sleep-eating, are a potentially dangerous side effect associated with Lunesta, as it’s recommended to discontinue the medication immediately if you experience these behaviors.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Lunesta

Abrupt discontinuation of Lunesta can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, unusual dreams, nausea, vomiting, and sweating. It’s important to discontinue the medication under the guidance of a healthcare provider to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Warnings for Lunesta

Lunesta should not be used by people with severe liver disease or by those who are allergic to eszopiclone. It should also not be taken with alcohol, as it can increase the risk of side effects. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare provider before taking Lunesta.

Lunesta is classified as a Schedule IV drug by the DEA, meaning that it has the potential for misuse. Drugs like oxycodone, for example, are classified as Schedule II drugs and have a higher potential for abuse and addiction. Because Lunesta is under Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act, it has a lower potential for misuse but it’s still possible to become dependent if the duration or dosage isn’t followed.

Lunesta Drug Interactions

Lunesta can interact with other medications, leading to increased side effects or reduced effectiveness. These include certain antidepressants, antifungal medications, and anxiety medications. You should always inform your healthcare provider about any other medications you’re taking before starting Lunesta.

What Is Ambien?

Ambien, also known as Zolpidem tartrate, is a prescription medication used to treat sleep problems like insomnia. As part of the sedative-hypnotics class of drugs, Ambien works by slowing down brain activity to help users fall asleep more rapidly and stay asleep throughout the night.

Conditions Ambien Treats

Ambien is primarily prescribed to treat insomnia, particularly for individuals who have difficulty falling asleep. By inducing a calming effect on the brain, it helps users transition into sleep quicker and reduces instances of nighttime wakefulness.

Ambien Forms and Dosages

Ambien comes in tablet form, with standard doses available in 5 mg and 10 mg strengths. There is also a longer-acting form, Ambien CR, available in 6.25 mg and 12.5 mg. The appropriate dose is usually determined by a healthcare provider, factoring in your specific sleep issues, age, and overall health.

What Should I Do If I Miss a Dose?

If you miss a dose of Ambien, only take it if you have ample time to sleep for 7 to 8 hours. If you do not have enough time left for a full night’s sleep, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular schedule the next night. Never double up on doses to compensate for a missed one.

Ambien should be used on an as-needed basis. So if you miss a dose, you likely did not need it in the moment to fall asleep.

Can You Overdose on Ambien?

Yes, overdosing on Ambien can occur and may lead to severe health problems. Symptoms can include extreme drowsiness, slow or shallow breathing, fainting, or coma. In the case of a suspected overdose, seek immediate medical attention.

Ambien Costs

The cost of Ambien can vary widely based on location, dosage, and whether you’re purchasing the brand name or generic version. Brand name Ambien may cost anywhere from $150 to $400 for a month’s supply without insurance, while the generic version (zolpidem) is often much more affordable and goes for about $10 to $50 for a month’s supply.

It’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for the most accurate pricing information.

Side Effects with Ambien

Side effects of Ambien may include drowsiness, dizziness, and diarrhea. In rare cases, users may experience complex sleep behaviors such as sleepwalking or sleep-eating. If you experience any severe or persistent side effects, contact your healthcare provider and discontinue the medication immediately.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Ambien

Suddenly stopping Ambien may lead to withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. It’s recommended to gradually taper off the drug under the supervision of a healthcare provider to prevent or manage withdrawal symptoms effectively.

Warnings for Ambien

Ambien should not be used by individuals with a history of substance abuse or those with severe liver disease. It’s also not recommended to take Ambien in combination with alcohol, as this could increase the risk of serious side effects.

Ambien is classified by the DEA as a Schedule IV federally controlled substance, which means it has a lower potential for abuse compared to a Schedule III drug like codeine, for example, but can still lead to dependence if misused. Ambien should only be taken under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Special Warning for Ambien CR

The extended-release form, Ambien CR, carries a special warning as it has a higher likelihood of leading to next-day impairment for activities that require alertness, such as driving. Always ensure you have at least 7 to 8 hours to devote to sleep before taking this medication.

Ambien Drug Interactions

Ambien can interact with various other medications, potentially altering its effectiveness or increasing side effects. These include certain antifungal medications, antidepressants, and antianxiety drugs. Always inform your healthcare provider of all the medications you’re currently taking to avoid harmful interactions.

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Lunesta vs Ambien

Starting a conversation with your doctor about sleep issues and potential medication options like Lunesta or Ambien is an important step towards better sleep health. Here are some pointers on how to initiate this discussion:

  • Be Honest: Openly share your sleep troubles with your healthcare provider. Mention how long you’ve been experiencing difficulties with sleep, how it’s affecting your daily life, and any methods you’ve tried to treat sleep problems.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask about the different treatment options, including the benefits and potential risks of sleep medications. Inquire specifically about Lunesta and Ambien if you’re considering these options.
  • Discuss Your Health History: Share your full medical history, including any allergies, conditions you have or had, and all medications or supplements you’re currently taking. This information will help your healthcare provider determine the right treatment plan for you.

Medical providers on Klarity will happily listen to all of your symptoms and try to answer your questions as best as possible. They will take all this information into account when determining a treatment plan, which could include prescribing medication for insomnia like Lunesta or Ambien.

Do You Need a Prescription for Lunesta or Ambien

Yes, both Lunesta and Ambien are prescription medications. This means they need to be prescribed by a healthcare provider. The use of these sleep medications should always be under medical supervision to ensure safety and efficacy.

Can You Get a Prescription for Ambien or Lunesta Online?

Yes, in many cases, you can obtain a prescription for Lunesta or Ambien through telehealth services. Online healthcare platforms like Klarity can connect you with licensed medical providers who can evaluate your condition through a virtual consultation. 

If they determine that Ambien vs Lunesta is a suitable treatment for your insomnia, they can electronically send a prescription to your preferred pharmacy. Klarity offers access in more than 30 states and has over 100 licensed and certified providers ready to help you from the comfort of your own home. With Klarity, there’s no insurance or subscription needed, just pay for your appointments and get the mental health help that you need.

If you want to learn more about Lunesta vs Ambien and whether one might be right for you, schedule an appointment on Klarity today. We’ll connect you with a licensed medical provider on their network in less than 48 hours.

FAQs about Lunesta vs Ambien

Are Lunesta and Ambien the same type of medication?

Yes, both Lunesta and Ambien are part of the sedative-hypnotics class of drugs. They are both designed to help individuals struggling with chronic insomnia by helping them fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep throughout the night. 

However, they contain different active ingredients—eszopiclone for Lunesta and zolpidem for Ambien. These differences can lead to variations in how the drugs work and their potential side effects.

Which sleep medication is better, Lunesta or Ambien?

The “better” medication between Lunesta and Ambien is subjective and depends on an individual’s specific health condition, age, lifestyle, and reactions to the drugs. Some people might find Ambien more effective, while others may have better results with Lunesta. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most suitable option for your unique needs.

What happens if you take Lunesta vs Ambien and stay awake?

If you take Lunesta or Ambien and intentionally stay awake, you might experience side effects such as memory issues, hallucinations, or abnormal behavior. These medications are designed to promote sleep, so staying awake can lead to unpredictable and potentially dangerous effects.

Does Lunesta or Ambien help with anxiety?

While both Lunesta and Ambien are not specifically designed to treat anxiety, they can provide temporary relief from certain anxiety symptoms. The calming effect they have on the brain may help reduce feelings of restlessness or worry that are often associated with anxiety. 

However, they should not be used as a primary treatment for anxiety disorders. If you struggle with anxiety, consult a healthcare provider for appropriate treatment options.

Licensed providers on Klarity provide personalized treatment. Find a provider that matches your needs and preferences.

Is it safe to take Lunesta or Ambien while you’re pregnant?

The safety of using Lunesta or Ambien during pregnancy is a complex issue. There may be potential risks to the fetus, especially when these medications are taken in the third trimester or for prolonged periods. 

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to discuss your sleep aid options with your healthcare provider. They can help you weigh the potential benefits and risks to determine the safest and most effective course of action.

Subscribe to our blog for the latest health insights and updates

Join our community of health-conscious individuals and gain access to valuable tips, expert advice, and the newest trends in healthcare.

Related posts

All professional services are provided by independent private practices via the Klarity technology platform. Klarity Health, Inc. does not provide any medical services.
(855) 975-3008

PO Box 5098 Redwood City, CA 94063

100 Broadway Street, Redwood City CA, 94063

If you’re having an emergency or in emotional distress, here are some resources for immediate help: Emergency: Call 911. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 988. Crisis Text Line: Text Home to 741-741
© 2024 Klarity Health, Inc. All rights reserved.