Article at a Glance:  

  • Lunesta is a sleep medication that is used to treat insomnia.  
  • Lunesta is classified as potentially habit-forming and can result in next-morning impairment.  
  • A dose of Lunesta can last in a person’s body for 24 to 48 hours.  
  • Lunesta will often stay in an older person’s body longer than a younger person’s body.  
  • Lunesta does not show up on most standard drug screen tests unless it is specifically being looked for. 

Lunesta (Eszopiclone) Prescription Facts

Lunesta is a brand name sleep medication that is prescribed to treat insomnia. The generic name of Lunesta is eszopiclone. Lunesta is classified as a sedative-hypnotic and it has a calming effect when it’s used. It can slow neural activity and the functionality of the central nervous system. The result is relaxation, drowsiness and sometimes sedation. Lunesta shouldn’t be prescribed for more than a week or two because it can be habit-forming. If someone experiences insomnia for longer than that, their doctor should talk to them about an alternative treatment option.

Lunesta is meant to be taken by mouth right before bed. Before taking Lunesta, a person should have at least seven or eight hours of available sleep time. It’s important to go straight to bed right after taking the drug. Some people report sleepwalking, sleep driving or doing other odd activities while using Lunesta. This risk is even higher when people don’t go to bed right after taking it. Some of the side effects of Lunesta include dizziness, dry mouth and coordination problems. People may also experience daytime sleepiness. Severe side effects can include memory loss, changes in thoughts or behaviors and doing dangerous activities while being unaware.

Lunesta Regulations

Lunesta is classified as a Schedule IV drug in the United States. This means it has medical uses but is potentially habit-forming. The FDA recommended that the dosage of Lunesta be lowered to 1 mg for all patients. The European Union stopped marketing the drug in 2009.

With prescription sleep aids like Lunesta or Ambien, there has been a growing concern about “next morning impairment” -which the FDA has been investigating. This refers to a situation in which the drug, and its effects, remain present in the system of a person the next day. This can make it difficult for the patient to do tasks that require them to be alert, such as driving.

How Lunesta Affects the Brain and Body

Lunesta is not classified as a benzodiazepine drug, but it affects the brain and body very similarly. Like benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Lunesta interacts with GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that plays a calming role in the brain. Lunesta increases its effects. That’s why someone feels sleepy and very relaxed when they use Lunesta. Because Lunesta is a central nervous system depressant, it slows breathing and heart rate. The outward effects of Lunesta are similar to those of alcohol intoxication. For example, someone who uses Lunesta may have slurred speech, impaired coordination and memory, and they may feel dizzy or lightheaded. More adverse effects on the brain and body can include daytime sedation, increased risks of automobile accidents and falls, and cognitive impairment.

Half-Life of Lunesta

The half-life of a drug is a measurement of how long it takes half of a dose to clear from the body. When this drug is taken, it’s rapidly absorbed and starts working quickly. The peak blood level concentrations occur within about 45 minutes to just over an hour. The half-life of the drug is estimated, on average, to be around 6 hours -which is very short compared to many drugs. For most people, a dose of Lunesta will be out of the system within 24 to 48 hours. Unlike other drugs, Lunesta doesn’t tend to accumulate in the body.

Factors That Influence How Long Lunesta Stays in Your System

While it is possible to give an average estimate of how long Lunesta stays in the system, there are individual factors that can influence this time. For example, in older adults who use Lunesta, it takes longer for the drug to clear from the system compared to younger, healthy adults. Older people tend to be taking other medications that can affect how long it takes their body to eliminate a drug. Older patients may also have impaired hepatic function. Other factors, aside from age, also influence how long Lunesta stays in the system. They can include gender, body weight, body fat, and whether or not someone has just eaten. If someone has problems with their liver or kidney function, it may take them longer to eliminate Lunesta. The metabolism rate is also important. People with faster metabolisms are going to eliminate drugs more quickly.

How Long Does Lunesta Stay in Your Urine, Hair, and Blood

Some people believe Lunesta will show up as a benzodiazepine drug on a drug screen. While Lunesta does have many functional similarities to benzodiazepines, it wouldn’t show up in this way on a drug screen. Lunesta also isn’t likely to show up on a standard drug screen unless it’s specifically looked for. Lunesta does not stay in the urine for any more than 48 hours, in most people. Within about an hour, peak blood concentrations of Lunesta occur and it quickly goes down from there. Hair tests tend to have the longest detection window, so Lunesta could show up for up to 90 days on this type of test.

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.