Lunesta is a medication typically used to help individuals with insomnia. Some research indicates it can also benefit individuals diagnosed with anxiety.

If you experience anxiety or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you may use medication to help alleviate anxiety symptoms. There are many medication options for reducing anxiety; it may be hard to know where to start.

One option available is Lunesta. Lunesta is usually prescribed as a sleep medication, but some research suggests it can also help anxiety symptoms. Since sleep problems and anxiety commonly occur together, it may be helpful to consider a medication that can treat both.

If you’re considering medication for anxiety and sleep problems, you may consider talking with your doctor about Lunesta. Before starting a new medication, weighing the risks and benefits is essential.

Lunesta (Eszopiclone) is a sedative-hypnotic medication typically used to treat insomnia. The food and drug administration (FDA) approved Lunesta for the treatment of insomnia in 2004.

The most common dosage of Lunesta is 1-3 mg. It works by stimulating gamma-aminobutyric acid(GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps you fall asleep and induces a sense of calm. Lunesta typically works within one hour of taking the medication.

A 2022 literature review of the effects of Lunesta found that this medication substantially improves your overall quality of sleep and is very effective compared to placebos.

If you live with depression or anxiety and experience symptoms of insomnia, improving your sleep can improve the symptoms of your condition.

During an older research study from 2008, 595 individuals were given both eszopiclone and escitalopram. The 595 participants recorded several benefits compared to a placebo group, including:

  • improved sleep
  • better functioning during the day
  • lower anxiety scores
  • overall improvement in mood

Additional older research from 2009 studied the effects of Lunesta in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women experiencing hot flashes. The study had 59 participants who reported improvements in sleep parameters and lowered symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Research from 2010 of 60 individuals diagnosed with insomnia that experienced depression indicates lower severity of depression and improvements in overall sleep quality after taking Lunesta.

Lunesta can also help treat insomnia that occurs later in life. One literature review from 2007 found it safe and effective for short-term treatment (2 weeks) of insomnia in individuals ages 64-91.

One study from 2018 also suggests that patients transferred from the ICU can benefit from eszopiclone and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) to treat sleep disorders.

In this study, the combination of Lunesta and CBT-I was more effective than just treating insomnia with Lunesta alone.

Recent research on the link between Lunesta and anxiety seems to be lacking. However, one could conclude from previous research that Lunesta may be effective for treating anxiety and insomnia when you’re experiencing both conditions.

It also appears that the effects of the medication may be more significant when paired with an additional medication.

As with any medication, Lunesta does have many side effects to consider. It’s always important to speak with your doctor and ask questions before beginning a new medication.

Side effects of Lunesta that are cited in a 2018 literature review on the medication include:

  • dry mouth
  • daytime fatigue
  • dizziness
  • unpleasant taste
  • headaches

A few case studies reported in the literature demonstrate severe rare side effects such as hallucinations with Lunesta.

One case study was on a 38-year-old woman who needed inpatient psychiatric admission and had suicidal thoughts due to new onset visual hallucinations. The woman didn’t have any previous episodes of visual hallucinations.

She experienced visual hallucinations of spiders and snakes crawling on her bathroom floor in the middle of the night. The hallucinations stopped after she discontinued Lunesta.

Another case study was of a 64-year-old man who became increasingly paranoid while taking Lunesta. He began to experience visual hallucinations that there were bugs on his body and that his friends were exploiting him while taking a 1mg dosage of Lunesta.

The doctors kept increasing his medication dosage, and he began to believe his house and body were infested with bugs when there was no indication of bugs in his home.

He had no previous history of psychosis before being prescribed the medication. After seven months of taking Lunesta, his visual hallucinations resolved within a week after discontinuing Lunesta.

While hallucinations are rare with Lunesta, it’s essential to speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing side effects such as visual or auditory hallucinations, especially if you’ve never previously had hallucinations before taking the medication.

There are some safety precautions to consider when taking this medication. In 2019, the FDA added a boxed warning for this medication and other similar medications.

This was due to rare cases of individuals on the medication completing activities while they weren’t fully awake, causing serious injury and death in some cases.

Some activities they warned about while on the medication included sleepwalking and sleep driving. While these aren’t typical, if you have had episodes like this while taking Lunesta or other sleep medications, you should consider speaking with your doctor about stopping the medication.

A case study on one patient with hepatitis b found an acute liver injury related to eszopiclone, but this is the only known case of liver injury due to Lunesta. The case study suggests that those with hepatitis b should take sleep medications carefully.

Some other safety concerns to note are considerations with how withdrawals of the medication can impact you.

A 2021 study of 123 Japanese individuals that were given 2mg of eszopiclone for 24 weeks found that once the participants stopped taking the medication, 10.5% of individuals experienced at least one withdrawal symptom.

The findings indicate that the most pertinent withdrawal symptoms exhibited in the study were:

  • weakness
  • increased anxiety
  • feeling jittery
  • fatigue
  • an increase in insomnia-related symptoms
  • headache

Withdrawal from medications occurs when you stop taking a medication. If you have been prescribed Lunesta by a medical professional, it’s essential to speak with them before abruptly discontinuing your medication.

Additional research suggests that using Lunesta can lead to psychological and physical dependence, with a higher risk in those with mental health and substance use disorders.

Dependence and abuse are more likely to occur the longer you’re on the medication and the higher the dose is.

Drug interactions

Research indicates several drug interactions to be aware of when taking Lunesta.

For example, one potentially harmful drug interaction can occur if you take a medication that interferes with the metabolic pathway that helps eliminate eszopiclone, known as CYP3A4.

Substances that may interfere with CYP3A4 are often antifungal medications such as:

These medications commonly treat conditions such as jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm. They can make the effects of Lunesta more intense.

Additionally, the authors suggest that any medication that affects the central nervous system (CNS) can make the effects of Lunesta last longer.

If you drink alcohol and take Lunesta, you should be aware that this can make you tired during the day and potentially cause psychomotor impairment.

Lunesta is a medication used for insomnia, but some older research indicates its benefits in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. But recent research on the effects of Lunesta on anxiety is lacking.

Because Lunesta is a sedative-hypnotic, its activation of GABA helps people feel calm and fall asleep, which may indicate lowered anxiety in those who take Lunesta.

Most side effects of Lunesta are mild, but in rare cases, more severe side effects such as liver disease and hallucinations can occur.

In other rare cases, people have been known to perform dangerous activities such as sleepwalking or driving when they aren’t fully awake, causing death or serious injury.

It’s always important to speak to your doctor about any side effects or episodes of sleepwalking if you’re taking these medications.

While Lunesta can help reduce anxiety, it has shown various benefits for those with insomnia, including improving your overall sleep quality.