Sleep Aid Lunesta
How it Works and Risks Associated with Use
Lunesta, drug name Eszoplicone, is a brand-name hypnotic sleep aid manufactured by Sepracor, a Massachusetts based pharmaceutical company. Lunesta, along with equally popular Ambien, belongs to the group of non-benzodiazepine insomnia drugs. It is one of the most prescribed sleep aids for the short-term treatment of insomnia.
Doctors use Lunesta when they need a fast-acting hypnotic. The drug is licensed for short-term use in adults only and not intended as a long-haul therapy. Insomnia usually manifests itself in one of 3 ways:
- you have problems going to sleep at night (sleep onset),
- you have problems staying asleep once you go to sleep (middle of the night), or
- you wake up early in the morning unable to go back to sleep (late or terminal insomnia).
Lunesta can be used to treat any of these.
How Does Lunesta Work?
Sleep is a complex architecture of neurological messages that are nearly burned into our DNA. Your biological clock is a very real natural timepiece that modulates your body’s chemistry—psychological and physical—with the rhythms of each 24-hour period. This is known as the Circadian Rhythm. When your biological clock becomes disrupted due to insomnia you may simply need a boost to your inner sleep timer to get your sleep-wake cycle back on its natural track.
Lunesta, or eszoplicone, is an agonist for the brain’s GABA receptor (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), which means it binds to GABA, making more of this chemical available to your brain. The increase in GABA makes you sleepy, and is also the trigger mechanism in some anti-anxiety medications. The non-benzodiazepine hypnotics like Lunesta and Ambien are extremely fast-acting. You take one just before bedtime. The medication ensures your sleep latency, or the time it takes you to go to sleep, is shortened and that you stay asleep for a full 7 to 8 hours – enough time to wake up and be revitalized.
Risks and Side Effects
Lunesta is a controlled substance and a powerful sleep agent. The drug is licensed for short-term use among adults over the age of 18. One of the risks is that it can become habit-forming if used long-term and long-term is in excess of 2 weeks. At this point withdrawal symptoms are not uncommon and your physician should wean you off the medication beyond a 2-week regimen. Most side effects of Lunesta are light, but here are a few of the most common:
- cold symptoms
- chest pain
- loss of libido
As a controlled substance Lunesta is often abused and easily overdosed, making it a danger in the hands of an unsupervised patient.
If you experience any unusual side effects or discomfort while taking Lunesta you should report it immediately to your physician.