For those suffering from insomnia a prescription sleep aid will usually be prescribed. The most common sorts of prescription sleep aids are Ambien and Lunesta. In some cases where anxiety is the leading cause of insomnia a benzodiazepine will be prescribed. Though closely related, Ambien and Lunesta have differing effects when administered in different patients. For this reason it is important to become familiar with the differences and similarities between the two medications so as to determine which medication will be the most beneficial to you for your specific case and symptoms.
Lunesta is the most common medication used in place of Ambien. Lunesta is very similar to Ambien in its structure being a stereoisomer of Ambien. Due to this it exhibits many of the same effects as Ambien does being a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic as well. Lunesta acts primarily as does Ambien through binding to the GABA-A receptor within the brain and increasing the potency and effectiveness of the neurotransmitter GABA within the brain. Lunesta is a relatively new drug only being available for the past few years. Due to its newness generic versions of the drug are not available within the USA as the patent has not expired yet. This results in higher prices than the generically available Ambien.
Ambien (Zolpidem) vs. Lunesta (eszopiclone)
Though they are structurally similar both Lunesta and Ambien produce different effects when taken for insomnia. Lunesta's half-life is twice as long at six hours than Ambien's half of only three hours. This results in many users reporting that Lunesta results in a longer more restful sleep than Ambien. With a longer half-life it is also expected that drowsiness would be increased the next day. However, this is not necessarily the case with Lunesta, as many users have reported it being much gentler the next day compared with Ambien.
Lunesta is also reported to not produce as many side effects in patients as Ambien. Another difference between Ambien and Lunesta how long it takes for the medication to take effect. Ambien is quicker in the effects being felt and can be taken on a full or an empty stomach without a noticeable effect on intensity or length it takes for it to become active. Lunesta on the other while still quick, takes a little while longer for its effects to be felt. Its effects will also be diminished when taken on a full stomach.
Lunesta is recognized in the medical community as not being as potent or as effective for treating insomnia as Ambien. This explains its milder side effects. It also allows Lunesta to be prescribed for longer periods of time. Currently, it is not recommended to take Lunesta for longer than six consequent months. Due to it not being as strong as Ambien, Lunesta also poses less of a habit forming risk. Those with previous substance abuse problems should still be careful as several studies have shown though weaker than Ambien's addiction potential, Lunesta still caries some sort of possibility of addiction with extended use.