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Difference Between Ambien and Lunesta

Ambien vs. Lunesta

There are various types of sedatives or hypnotics to treat insomnia. These generally fall under the nonbenzodiazepine group, also known as ‘z-drugs’. Belonging to the said category are Sanofi Aventis’ Ambien and Sunovion’ Lunesta, both are medically approved brands for zolpidem tartrate and eszopiclone respectively. They primarily help patients fall asleep more easily and stay asleep. They are both prescription medicines, meaning intake should be highly controlled. However, due to their instant tranquilizing effect, they are likely to be abused by patients with sleeping disorders. Long-term uses of Ambien and of Lunesta also pose similar side effects like headache, drowsiness, and shortness of breath. Although they are both intended in helping patients fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, there are also a number of differences between the two, primarily with regard to format or appearance, efficacy, allergic reactions and other side effects.
Format
Ambien comes in tablet format with dosage variants of 5 mg and 10 mg. However, the recommended dose for adults is 10 mg, taken once daily immediately before bedtime. An Ambien tablet is elliptical with an ‘AMB’ debossed, followed by ’5′ or ’10′ that is indicative of its dosage. It can be pink or white. Lunesta, on the other hand, has 3 dosage variants- 1, 2, and 3 mg also in tablet form. The most prescribed for an adult is 2 mg a day. Lunesta tablets are round and can be white, light blue or dark blue with an engraved ‘S193′, ‘S191′, or ‘S190′.
Efficacy
Ambien is indicated for the short-term treatment of insomnia characterized by difficulties with sleep initiation. It acts instantly and causes up to 8 hours of sleep. It is taken for 7 to 10 days or longer, depending on the physician’s recommendation. Based on controlled clinical studies, Ambien has been shown to decrease sleep latency for up to 35 days. Similarly, Lunesta takes effect right away, rendering up to 8 hours of sleep. It is, as well, recommended to be taken for 7 to 10 days but lasts up to 6 months in terms of efficacy. Moreover, Ambien and Lunesta don’t require a strict medication schedule. The patient needs only to dedicate a full 8 hours of sleep while it takes effect.
Allergic reactions and other side effects
While long-term intake of either Lunesta or Ambien has minor downsides like drowsiness, headache, and difficulty in breathing, a number of more serious side effects vary. Ambien can draw allergies, sinus infections, and somnambulatory abnormalities like sleep-walking and sleep-driving. Short-term amnesia is one of the common side effects of Ambien, especially in cases where patient prematurely awakens before medication has worn off. Lunesta can cause indigestion and decreased fertility in male and female patients.
In addition, alcohol is strictly prohibited along intake of either Ambien or Lunesta, as it may increase tendencies of dizziness and behavioral inconsistencies. Also, both may cause withdrawal symptoms after medication. These include abdominal pain, muscle cramps, extreme behavioral changes, nausea, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, panic, tremors, and convulsions. There’s also a possibility that prior insomnia condition will recur, sometimes even worse.
Summary

  1. Ambien and Lunesta are both prescription drugs intended for the treatment of insomnia.
  2. Both can be availed of in tablet form. Ambien has 2 dosage variants- 5 and 10 mg, while Lunesta has 3- 1, 2, and 3 mg.
  3. Ambien and Lunesta have an immediate sedative effect that last 7-8 hours per dosage. They are both recommended to up to 10 days of use.
  4. Ambien’s efficacy last up to 35 days, while Lunesta remains effective up to 6 months.
  5. Minor side effects such as headache, shallowness of breath and dizziness are common for both Ambien’s and Lunesta’s long-term use. They also share similar withdrawal symptoms such anxiety, vomiting, and abdominal pain among others.

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