Lunesta is tablet containing Zolpidem, a prescription medicine used for inducing and maintaining sleep for the patients suffering from troubled sleeping (insomnia).
It is available in three strengths i.e. 1 mg, 2 mg and 3 mg.
Who Is Lunesta For?
Patients having difficulty in sleep onset can use Lunesta for induction of sleep. Patients experiencing disturbances in the sleep during night may not have complete relief with Lunesta.
They may need the medicine working for a longer period of time before it becomes more effective at helping them fall asleep quickly and consistently.
Lunesta works immediately after ingestion; hence it should be consumed just before bed time. The strength to be used is decided by the doctor depending on the severity of the problem. Generally for adult patients, recommended Lunesta dosage is 2 mg.
Elderly patients should initiate the therapy with half the dose of adults. Females generally require lower dose compared to men because metabolism of Zolpidem is slower in females. Patients with increased liver failure are at increased risk of Lunesta side effects. They should initiate the therapy with 1 mg. Lunesta is recommended to be used only for short time (4-5 weeks). Safety of long term use is not established.
Side effects of Lunesta
Most common side effects of Lunesta are drowsiness, headache and decreased alertness in the early hours after waking up. For some patients, drowsiness may last for hours which may lead to driving impairment and accidents.
Patients are advised to avoid using vehicles or machine that requires complete alertness till they have gained complete wakefulness.
Lunesta may also lead to behavioral changes including hallucinations and mood swings which may lead to depressive disorders. These problems are found to be higher in the persons having history of some kind of addiction including alcoholism. Ingestion of Lunesta after consumption of alcohol should be avoided to decrease the risk of having psychological side effects.
Patients have reported having nightmares throughout the night while taking Lunesta (some would have nightmares that cycled) and preferred taking Ambien (but their health insurance would not cover it). Those that did have nightmares reported that they would rather wake up several times during the night instead of sleeping with nightmares.
Lunesta’s Abuse Potential
As with the most of the medications working on the central nervous system (brain), Lunesta also have abuse potentials. After certain time, body may get habituated to the medication and higher dose is required. This phenomenon is called tolerance. Gradually patient may get addicted to the drug and time may come when patient cannot sleep without medication.
After some days body gets habituated to Zolpidem. If the medicine is suddenly discontinued for any reason, body may react aggressively leading to withdrawal syndrome. Lunesta should not be stopped abruptly. Abrupt stoppage or rapid reduction in dose may increase the sleep disturbances due to withdrawal syndrome. Sudden absence of the Zolpidem in the body Dose should be tapered down slowly under the guidance of the treating doctor. Even if you are experiencing side effects with Lunesta, it is advisable to consult the doctor before stopping the medication.
Overall, Lunesta is an effective medication for the patients suffering from insomnia. But looking at the Lunesta side effects and abuse potential, it should be used only when sleep disturbances have started affecting the daily living of the patient.