Addiction A-Z

Lunesta

Lunesta is the trademarked name of a sleeping pill first introduced in 2005. It is made from the drug esxopicione that works by slowing brain activity. Exactly how the drug does this is unknown, but it probably interacts with GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), a brain chemical associated with sleep. Taken as a tablet right before bedtime, Lunesta should cause you to fall asleep in less than a half hour. In studies of this drug, most people remained in sound sleep for about six and half hours. Side effects can be headache, daytime drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, unusual dreams, decreased sexual desire, cold symptoms, unpleasant taste, breast enlargement in men, and painful menstruation in men. The daytime drowsiness may leave you too impaired to drive. More serious but less common side effects are vomiting, loss of coordination, hallucinations, out of body experiences, aggressiveness, depression, suicidal ideation, and problems with memory. A few people are allergic to esxopicione and will experience hives, trouble breathing, swelling of tongue, and vomiting. Although the manufacturer of Lunesta does not indicate that the drug should only be taken short-term, some physicians prescribe it that way because there are not many clinical studies of its long-term effects. One problem with Lunesta is that people experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. These can be anxiety, unusual dreams, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, sweating, shakiness, and sometimes even seizures. For this reason their doctors decrease their dosage gradually rather than stopping its use suddenly. Once you stop using Lunesta, your sleep problems may become worse than before you started taking the drug.

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