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Insomnia

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Lunesta vs. Sonata: What’s the Difference and Which One Should I Take?

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: Dec 9, 2022

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

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Navigating sleep disorders can be physically and emotionally draining, especially when you don’t know where to turn for relief. With so many options available to treat insomnia, it’s difficult to know which medication is right for you. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of Lunesta and Sonata, medications used to alleviate problems with sleeping. 

At Klarity, we provide access to insomnia treatment that’s affordable, secure, and fast. Schedule an appointment, and we’ll match you with an insomnia-trained provider who will determine which, if any, medication is right for your symptoms. 

This article discusses suicide, suicidal ideation, and self-harm. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or is in crisis, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 800-273-8255.

LunestaSonata
Drug ClassSedative-hypnoticSedative-hypnotic
Brand / Generic StatusBrand name for eszopiclone

Brand name for zaleplon
Form(s) of the Drug• Immediate-release tablets• Immediate-release capsule
Standard DosageImmediate-release tablets:
• 1mg
• 2mg
• 3mg
Immediate-release capsule:
• 5mg
• 10mg
Conditions TreatedFDA-approved:
• Insomnia

Off-label:
• Anxiety
• PTSD
• Depression
• Schizophrenia
FDA-approved:
• Insomnia

Off-label:
• Alzheimer’s disease
CostBrand name:
• $7.53 to $86.61 for a 30-day supply

Generic (eszopiclone):
• $5.01 to $91.16 for a 30-day supply
Brand name:
• $330.60 for a 30-day supply

Generic (zaleplon):
• $12.12 to $34.33 for a 30-day supply
Side-EffectsCommon side effects:
• Day-time drowsiness
• Dizziness
• Memory or concentration issues
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Nervous feeling
• Headache
• Nausea
• Stomach pain
• Constipation
• Loss of appetite
• Dry mouth
• Unusual taste in your mouth
• Mild skin rash
Common side effects:
• Dizziness
• Drowsiness
• Short-term memory loss
• Difficulty concentrating
• Lack of coordination
• Feeling hungover
• Numbness or tingling
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Nervousness
• Vision problems
• Headache
• Nausea
• Stomach pain
• Loss of appetite
• Constipation
• Dry mouth
• Increased menstrual pain
• Back pain
• Joint or muscle pain
• Mild skin rash
Warnings For UseDrug interactions:
• Tramadol
• Ambien
• Clonazepam
• Cymbalta
• Gabapentin
• Klonopin
• Lamictal
• Lexapro
• Lyrica
• Melatonin
• Trazodone
• Xanax
• Zoloft
Drug interactions:
• Tramadol
• Ativan
• Cymbalta
• Gabapentin
• Klonopin
• Lexapro
• Lisinopril
• Lunesta
• Melatonin
• Seroquel
• Trazodone
• Wellbutrin
• Xanax
• Zoloft

What is Lunesta?

Lunesta is a sedative or hypnotic used to treat sleep issues. This medication binds to the brain’s GABA receptors to help you relax and fall asleep. GABA receptors are neurotransmitters that block specific signals to your central nervous system, producing a calming effect and improving sleep. 

Lunesta Forms and Doses

Lunesta is a tablet in 1, 2, and 3 mg doses. Your dose depends on your current symptoms, health history, and the recommendation of your care provider. You can expect to start at 1 mg daily to be taken right before bed. You should take Lunesta without food, and when you have seven to eight hours before you must be awake.

Conditions Lunesta Treats

Also known as eszopiclone in its generic form, Lunesta is prescribed to treat insomnia or trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Lunesta can also be used off-label for anxiety, PTSD, depression, and schizophrenia. 

Off-label use is when a drug is prescribed for something other than its FDA-approved use. FDA approval requires intensive testing and extensive resources, which aren’t available for each use of every medication. Off-label prescriptions are safe, ethical, and often effective forms of treatment.

Lunesta Costs

The price of Lunesta varies based on your dose, your insurance coverage, and the pharmacy you use. For 30 tablets at a 1 mg dosage, you can pay anywhere from $7.53 to $86.61. You can also speak with your care provider about taking the generic Lunesta (eszopiclone), which is often more affordable.

Lunesta Side Effects

As you adjust to your dosage, you may experience some common side effects that will likely dissipate over time. Those side effects include the following.

  • Day-time drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Memory or concentration issues
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nervous feeling
  • Headache
  • Nausea 
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Unusual taste in your mouth
  • Mild skin rash

Lunesta Drug Warnings

Medication misuse warning: Lunesta is a controlled substance that’s classified as a Schedule IV sedative-hypnotic that carries a risk of dependency if used improperly or for an extended period. Dependency may occur when the body becomes accustomed to the drug’s effects, leading to a reduced response and a potential need for higher doses. Abruptly stopping Lunesta after regular use can also result in withdrawal symptoms.

To minimize the risk of dependency, it is crucial to follow the prescribed dosage and duration provided by your healthcare professional. Lunesta is typically intended for short-term use, usually lasting one to two weeks, and is not recommended for prolonged usage. 

If you have concerns about dependency or need to discontinue Lunesta, consult with your prescribing provider to receive guidance on gradually tapering off the medication and exploring alternative treatments for insomnia.

Lunesta can cause severe allergic reactions, so if you experience hives, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat, seek emergency medical care. 

Some people who take Lunesta engage in complex sleep behaviors while not fully awake. These activities can include walking, driving, or making phone calls. If you notice any changes in behavior, thoughts of self-harm, suicidal ideation, aggression, agitation, or hallucinations, contact your care provider immediately. 

Lunesta Interactions

There are 355 drugs that interact with Lunesta, with 53 major interactions, 300 moderate interactions, and two minor interactions. Of the medications most frequently checked, Lunesta has a major interaction with Tramadol and moderate interactions with the following, in addition to alcohol:

  • Ambien
  • Clonazepam
  • Cymbalta
  • Gabapentin
  • Klonopin
  • Lamictal
  • Lexapro
  • Lyrica
  • Melatonin
  • Trazodone
  • Xanax
  • Zoloft

Always discuss the medications you’re taking with your healthcare provider to ensure that Lunesta is safe for you to take. 

What is Sonata?

Sonata, also known as Zaleplon in its generic form, is a sleep aid medication used to treat insomnia. Like Lunesta, Sonata is a hypnotic that slows your brain activity, so it’s easier for you to fall asleep. 

Sonata Forms and Doses

You’ll take anywhere from 5 to 20 mg of Sonata per day, depending on the recommendation of your healthcare provider. Sonata comes as a capsule and should only be taken at night before bed when you have seven to eight hours before you need to wake up. You should also avoid eating a high-fat meal before taking this medication so that it’s the most effective.

Conditions Sonata Treats

Sonata is a hypnotic that’s a short-term treatment for difficulty falling asleep. While it doesn’t help you stay asleep longer, it does decrease the number of times you wake up throughout the night. Sonata can also be used in an off-label capacity to help Alzheimer’s patients sleep better. 

Sonata Costs

Prices may vary depending on your insurance, dose, and pharmacy. For 30 zaleplon capsules at 10 mg, you can expect to pay anywhere from $12.12 to $34.33. Brand-name Sonata can cost more than $300 for 30-days’ worth of capsules.

Sonata Side Effects

While less likely if you take Sonata directly before bed, you may experience the following common side effects. 

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of coordination
  • Feeling hungover
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nervousness
  • Vision problems
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased menstrual pain
  • Back pain
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Mild skin rash

Sonata Drug Warnings

Medication misuse warning: Like Lunesta, Sonata is also a controlled substance. Specifically, it’s a Schedule IV sedative-hypnotic that carries a risk of dependency if taken in higher doses or for longer than prescribed. Abruptly discontinuing the use of Sonata can also result in withdrawal symptoms. 

The best way to reduce risk of dependency is to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on taking it. Sonata is typically recommended for short-term use, usually lasting one to two weeks, and is not intended for long-term usage. 

If you’re concerned about developing a dependency or want to stop using Sonata, ask your healthcare provider to help you taper off of it while you explore other medications together. 

Like Lunesta, Sonata can cause some people to engage in activities like driving, eating, or making phone calls without remembering doing so afterward. If this occurs, stop taking Sonata and discuss your options with your care provider. 

Serious side effects of Sonata can include mood changes, thoughts of self-harm, suicidal ideation, hallucinations, and unusual behavior. Contact your provider immediately if you notice any shifts in your behavior or mental state. 

Sonata Interactions

Sonata interacts with 362 drugs, with 27 major interactions, 323 moderate interactions, and 12 minor interactions. When cross-referenced with other medications most frequently used, Sonata has a major interaction with Tramadol and moderate interactions with the following, in addition to alcohol: .

  • Ativan
  • Cymbalta
  • Gabapentin
  • Klonopin
  • Lexapro
  • Lisinopril
  • Lunesta
  • Melatonin
  • Seroquel
  • Trazodone
  • Wellbutrin
  • Xanax
  • Zoloft

Discuss any other medications you’re taking with your healthcare provider to ensure you don’t have any adverse reactions to Sonata. 

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

Which Insomnia Medication Should I Take?

Whether you take Sonata or Lunesta depends on your care provider’s instructions and current symptoms. While they are both hypnotics, each has its own unique side effects and recommended doses. 

Lunesta is Better for Chronic Insomnia

If you experience long-term insomnia symptoms, Lunesta may be the better medication for you. It typically works quickly, is less addictive, and has fewer side effects than other sleep aids. You can start to have sleep issues again if you stop taking Lunesta. 

Sonata is Better For Treating Short-Term Sleeplessness

Sonata may be the better choice if you only need help to fall asleep. This hypnotic doesn’t last as long in your body and won’t affect the entire sleep cycle. Sonata may not be a good option for you if you have chronic insomnia or a history of depression, substance misuse, or other mental illnesses. 

Start Insomnia Treatment in 48 Hours With Healthcare Providers on Klarity

At Klarity, we know that struggling with sleep issues can be excruciating and trying to find the right medication even more so. You deserve accessible insomnia treatment with an empathetic healthcare provider who will determine which, if any, prescription medication is right for you.

Find a provider in your state within 48 hours. No long wait times or inconvenient commutes.

Lunesta and Sonata Frequently Asked Questions

Are Lunesta and Sonata the same class of drug?

Yes, Lunesta and Sonata are both hypnotics used for treating insomnia. 

What’s better for Insomnia? Lunesta or Sonata?

Your care provider will recommend the best medication and dose for your symptoms. For long-term insomnia, Lunesta is likely the better choice. Sonata helps with falling asleep short-term but won’t be an effective method for chronic sleep problems.

How should Lunesta be taken? How should Sonata be taken?

Lunesta and Sonata should be taken before bed with a glass of water when you have at least seven to eight hours before you need to be awake. It’s best not to eat a high-fat meal before taking either medication as it can reduce their effectiveness. 

Can Lunesta cause depression? Can Sonata?

Both Lunesta and Sonata can worsen symptoms of depression. If you experience changes in mood or mental state, contact your care provider immediately. 

Can I drive on Lunesta or Sonata?

You should not drive or operate heavy machinery when taking Lunesta or Sonata. Both medications are hypnotics meant to help you fall asleep and can alter your coordination and ability to drive safely. 

Can I drink alcohol when taking Lunesta or Sonata?

You should not drink alcohol with Lunesta or Sonata. Mixing alcohol with either of these sleep medications can result in dependency and dangerous or fatal side effects like an overdose. 

Does it matter what time of day I take Lunesta or Sonata?

Yes, Lunesta or Sonata should only be taken before bed when you have seven to eight hours before you need to be awake. 

Sources:

“Lunesta” Rehabspot

https://www.rehabspot.com/drugs/sleeping-pills/lunesta/

“Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)” Cleveland Clinic

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22857-gamma-aminobutyric-acid-gaba

“Eszopiclone” MedScape

https://reference.medscape.com/drug/lunesta-eszopiclone-342927

Oliver George. “Lunesta Addiction: The Dangers of Abuse, Withdrawal, and Treatment Options“ Addiction Resource

https://addictionresource.com/drugs/lunesta/

“Lunesta” GoodRx

https://www.goodrx.com/lunesta

Melissa Conrad Stöppler. “Lunesta Side Effects Center” RxList

https://www.rxlist.com/lunesta-side-effects-drug-center.htm

“Lunesta Interactions” Drugs.com

https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/eszopiclone,lunesta.html

“Zaleplon” MedlinePlus

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601251.html

“Sonata for Alzheimer’s” MyAlzTeam

https://www.myalzteam.com/treatments/sonata

“Zaleplon” GoodRx

https://www.goodrx.com/zaleplon

John P. Cunha. “Sonata Side Effects Center” RxList

https://www.rxlist.com/sonata-side-effects-drug-center.htm

“Compare Lunesta vs. Sonata” GoodRx

https://www.goodrx.com/compare/lunesta-vs-sonata

Editorial Staff. “Lunesta (Eszopiclone) Side Effects, Addiction & Dangers” American Addiction Centers

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/lunesta-treatment/side-effects

Liz Waterson. “Mixing Lunesta with Alcohol: Understanding the Risks and the Need for Addiction Treatment” Alta Mira Recovery

https://www.altamirarecovery.com/blog/mixing-lunesta-alcohol-understanding-risks-need-addiction-treatment

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