Lunesta Withdrawal: The Dirty Secret Sepracor Doesn’t Want You To Know

I received an agitated phone call early one morning from my good friend, Karen, who was attempting Lunesta withdrawal on her own. Desperate to sleep, Karen allowed herself to be persuaded to take Lunesta sleeping pills, hoping for a miracle. After only two weeks, she realized that Lunesta was not for her, primarily because she felt depressed and aggressive. So she decided to quit – and that was why she was calling in tears. She spent an entire week in bed with nausea, trembling and chills. Perhaps the stomach cramps were the worst of the Lunesta side effects, Karen informed me.

Lunesta Withdrawal

The active ingredient in Lunesta is named eszopiclone. A frightening fact that most Lunesta users don’t know is that eszopiclone is a “Schedule IV Controlled Substance” under the Controlled Substances Act. Unfortunately, addiction to this frightening drug is easily acquired. Tolerance can develop after daily use of Lunesta in only a week or two.

The Miserable Symptoms Of Lunesta Withdrawal

Even those with the most to gain – the huge drug manufacturers – acknowledge that if an insomniac has swallowed eszopiclone for a mere 14 days, they should under no account not stop taking Lunesta. The only safe way to withdraw is with the help of a doctor and they counsel the user to arrange an appointment with a specialist who can help them to safely quit. Normally, this doctor will recommend a gradual step-down in the amount of medication in an attempt to reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Note: no one can prevent some symptoms from occurring – after only two weeks of usage!

Here are a few of Lunesta’s withdrawal symptoms:

* Grouchiness and irritability
* Sweating
* Upset stomach and often vomiting
* Stomach cramps and other muscle cramps
* Shakiness
* Anxiety
* Panic attacks
* Fatigue
* Exhaustion, which is especially ironic
* Seizures
* Dizziness
* Unusual dreams that are often disturbing in nature
* And – can you believe it – insomnia

It’s astounding, isn’t it, that insomnia is a regular symptom of Lunesta. It is known as “rebound insomnia.“ To her sorrow, Karen learned the hard way about this awful condition – she tried Lunesta to reduce her insomnia symptoms, but when she stopped, her original insomnia problem was much more dreadful than before.

Why Sleeping Pills Don’t Work

The chronic use of sleeping medications like Lunesta can be troublesome and ineffective for many reasons:

* For genuinely deep rest, we need dream or REM sleep and that doesn’t happen with drugs.

* Even if the pills work, guess what happens when you stop? You guessed it – insomnia reigns supreme once again!

* And, naturally, many people become physically and mentally dependent on the drug, just the way Karen did. Many are persuaded that sleep isn’t an option without a handy, dandy little capsule.

* Many sleepers are curious about why they feel like they have a hangover the next day – when they’re had nothing at all to drink. The sleeping pill is the cause.

* The medications lose their effectiveness when used on a nightly basis–and the patient is indeed directed to take them every night. The brain receptors become less sensitive to the effects. In as little as three to four weeks, many sleeping pills become no more effective than a sugar pill.

So whenever you spy a Lunesta commercial with the lovely green butterfly floating around a person who is sleeping serenely and deeply, don’t forget about the horrors of Lunesta withdrawal and resolve to end your restless nights a different way. [by Jessica Shuemake]

We invite you to visit the BlissPlan Shop.


  1. Jim Stoney says:

    This article is not completely accurate. While it is true Lunesta is a Schedule IV drug, it is safe. In fact many studies have been done specifically focused on safety. Lunesta is not addictive in a physical aspect, however people can develop a mental dependence on the need to have a pill to sleep. That said, through multiple studies done world wide there is not tolerance that is built up, in fact that is documented in the package insert (which is approved by the FDA).
    Also, each drug effects individuals differently, so I can not speak for this person, I would submit that the fact she was agitated was the fact that Lunesta simply didn’t work for her and there for she wasn’t getting the sleep she required, which was compounded over time. Each person according to most sleep experts requires 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, obviously some individuals require less and some more. If you are not getting enough sleep it can affect your moods, your performance and your health. The key is finding out how much you require, follow good sleep hygiene and consult with your physician if what you are doing isn’t working. Lunesta has been done in several successful studies for patients with chronic insomnia, depression, anxiety, women with menopause and in the elderly. Honestly, no one medicine works for every person, but on the whole, Lunesta is a well tolerated, safe and effective sleep medicine.

    • I am here to tell you that while Lunest may not be considered addictive, it has been like a living hell tapering off under a doctor’s supervision.

  2. Jim, what about the reports of the people mentioned in this article? Do you really believe that taking a powerful drug is a good idea – especially when there are all-natural remedies available?

    “In December 2007 and January 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved safety labeling revisions to advise of the risks for abnormal thinking and behavioral changes in patients receiving eszopiclone (Lunesta) for the treatment of insomnia.”

    “These behaviors are associated with amnesia and include “sleep-driving” (driving while not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic), preparing or eating meals, telephone calls, and having sexual intercourse.” []

    Of course, these kinds of decisions are – and should be – 100% up to the insomniac. Just be aware of the seriousness of your decision and remember that there is no such thing as a drug without side effects.

    • DouglasFir says:

      Having taken Lunesta for 4 months nightly per my doctor’s approval, I can attest to physical withdrawal symptoms during and after a taper has been completed. I stopped taking the medication because of blackouts (shopping, driving, texting with no recollection the following morning). After tapering and stopping eszopiclone symptoms of increased insomnia, sweats, shaking, severe anxiety bordering on panic, and uncharacteristic aggression lasted for several weeks.

      This is a GABA agonist we’re talking about, and withdrawal symptoms are physical as well as psychological (think Xanax withdrawal or alcohol withdrawal). Given the pharmaceutical industry’s fingers in the drug research pie it’s telling that study results are mixed on whether eszopiclone binds to GABA A receptors. Perhaps you can consider that with Z-drugs experience speaks louder than words. A simple google search for ‘zopiclone taper’ (Zopiclone/Zopicon are UK brand names for Lunesta where the drug has been around for longer) will provide hundreds of links to patient testimonials on suffering withdrawals.

      Since stopping Lunesta I cannot drink one glass of wine without mild withdrawal symptoms detailed above kicking in the following afternoon. What do you know, alcohol binds to GABA A. (I have never had a drinking problem and rarely drink more than a couple of times a month.) It’s called rapid onset withdrawal, and it’s triggered when GABA A receptors downregulate from regular Z-drug use.

      • Wow, bless you! What happened to you is horrible – especially having blackouts while driving. Your information on the GABA A receptors is new to us and we appreciate knowing this. I sincerely hope that your symptoms fade completely over time. Thanks so much for sharing. You might have saved someone else from these awful experiences.

  3. I have used Lunesta for weeks at levels beyond my doctor’s recommendation. I had no significant withdrawal symptoms when I stopped. However, other side effects convinced me to give it up.

    • diana munoz says:

      are u able to sleep now??

      • Diana, yes! Thank heavens. After I figured out how to end this HORRIBLE insomnia, I went downstairs in the morning and was alarmed. I rushed to the window and looked out because I was afraid there was a fire in the neighborhood. It was beautiful, morning light! I realized that it was always dark when I work up and this was the first time in years that it was daylight when I awoke. Funny.

  4. blissplan says:

    Ned, what side effects occurred? If it helped you to sleep, then there must have been some serious discomfort? We’re always interested in user experiences.

    I’m glad that you could ‘kick it’ without problems. Congrats on that.

  5. I have been on Lunesta for more than 8 years. My pdoc just took me off it due to it becoming ineffective. Last night, my first night off, even though I am taking Seroquel, I did not sleep. I am sure it is a side effect of rapid withdrawal. Hopefully that will be the only side effect. If so, I can take it for a while. Seroquel has helped me immensely. I know it is not for everyone and is not approved as a sleep med, but I truly love it.

    • magic8697 says:

      Ive been on lunesta for 8 years and my doc wants to taper me off of it. What can I expect to happen????

      • Every body is different but you will probably have a lot of noticeable symptoms. Your ‘withdrawal’ probably won’t be quick. Best of luck to you.

  6. Carrie, if it works for you then keep on using it. Nothing beats a good night’s sleep, does it? Best of luck with your ‘withdrawal’ and let us know how it goes.

  7. tom creaser says:

    I have used lunesta for 5 years. It started when my dad died 3 dayd before completing nursing school!!
    I have tryed several times to get off the stuff.. oh, it worked fine, except for 1) not remembering driving to work at times. 2) feeling disoriented, no concentration, very irritated for nothing, and the cost is out of this world!!
    I stared cutting my pills in half and that seems to work as far as “weaning” off this drug. I am now 2 days without it , using benadryl to relax and so far.. so good!! I also question the use of this drug along with celexa.
    I have to stop…. I want to feel like myself again.

    • Tom…I’d like to hear more about the celexa with lunesta. I was trying to get off lunesta after many months and ended up with strange dreams that resulted in panic attacks and anxiety over going to sleep! It has been recommended that I take celexa for a time to help with the anxiety and wean off off lunesta. What has been your experience with celexa simultaneously with lunesta?

  8. Tom, hurrah for you! That’s a powerful decision you’re making and I applaud you for following through. All the symptoms you describe are pretty unpleasant but I’m guessing the worst is ‘not being yourself’? I’m sure you will be glad when you’re off them altogether.

    • tom creaser says:

      nope… I have the rebound insomnia now… I took a pill tonight….I cant do it.. my job is very busy and stressful at times as well, i sleep in till 9 or 10 am on days I have off. …maybe i have had continual “anicipatory
      stress that is causing my problem. I ‘m gonna cut down to only 1mg and see what happens. beadryl worked for 2 days only.

  9. Tom, you say you ‘can’t do it’? Do you mean you can’t sleep without the pill or you can’t quit?

  10. JIMMY RIMO says:


    • Jimmy, that’s horrible! Bless your heart. My son accidentally got a bit of battery acid on his hand and he said it gave him a chemical taste in his mouth and a chemical breath. Lunesta obviously does not agree with your body.

  11. indrani says:

    I have been prescribed 150MG DOXEPIN HCL and QUETIAPINE FUMARATE 150mg for insomnia. I have an acute case of insomnia but i donot want to gain weigt since i m already on the heavier side . pls advise

    • Indrani, I had the same problem. Exactly the same, in fact. I refused the drugs, though. I’m convinced that using drugs to sleep deprives our body of its natural rest. Further, they can have some really terrible effects on our bodies. I know that sometimes we have to use them but it’s best to stop as soon as possible. Here’s how I solved my problem.

  12. panamapanther says:

    I have been taking Lunesta for over 6 years now. I have suffered from insomnia since childhood, and has grown worse with age. I was offered Ambien to start with, and it worked well at first. The only problem with the ambien was the hangover feeling the next day. I was then offered Lunesta 2mg, and it worked well for a few weeks. My tolerance for the drug grew, and the 2mg became less effective. I have now been taking 3mg every night for over 4 years. I have had withdraw symptoms and horrific insomnia when attempting a wean off. For now under doctors advice, I will continue with the Lunesta 3mgs, as other sleep meds have had worse side effects. I usually always seem to get at least 6 hours of restful REM sleep using the Lunesta.

    • Tolerance is always a problem with any drug. The withdrawal symptoms and horrific insomnia sound really awful. Best wishes for an end to such misery. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  13. Bad drug... says:

    I used Lunesta for 5 plus years…finally decided to stop after suffering side effects and the recents studies have shown sleeping pill users have a shortened lifespan. This drug is not worth the long term side effects and ensuing health risks..I advise anyone using sleep medications to stop now; work with your physician and follow his recommended advice for withdrawal. These drugs are horrific in long term health implications!

  14. Doug H. says:

    I thought I was going crazy! Going cold turkey off Lunesta really does mess you up bad. I was trying to take only 5 days a week and could not sleep the other days. Effect was wearing off and was not working for more than 5-6 hours but I had to take it to get that. I have been off since Sunday (3 nights) and I can not sleep and all mixed up about what is going on. Fittful sleep without it, no more than 4-5 hours, wake up exhausted and can not move. Back is killing me from laying around. Not well this week. Considering going to Doctor but feel I may kick it.

    • Doug, I am SO sorry! You’ve had a really awful experience and I hope it’s over now. I hate to use a cliche – but I feel you pain. I’ve suffered with insomnia for 15+ years and I am so glad to be done with it. Sleeping restfully at night is a major blessing.

      • I’m not sure what ad for a ‘sleep drug’ you’re talking about? We don’t advertise any drugs on this site. And I would never play games about insomnia. For somewhere between 15-20 years it was the defining problem of my life. I went to sleep with no problem – but I woke up around 3AM and couldn’t go back to sleep. I personally wrote a product about my problem about how I solved it and it has nothing at all to do with drugs because I don’t use them. My insomnia report is here … … and every single word of it is from the heart. Insomnia is a terrible thing and anyone who suffers from it deserves compassion and any help I can offer. (Sydney Johnston)

  15. I have to agree with CAJ-your plan IS an advertisement for “tips” and an OTC product which seems to help and even cure almost any conditions one might suffer from, including insomnia, depression/anxiety, arthritis, Alzeimers, even cancer!? No such one-product “cure-all” exists! Also, if you were truly a one time insomniac yourself with the compassion you claim to have, you could post at least the tips online for free!

    • I’m sorry but I have no idea what you’re talking about? There certainly is no OTC product that cures ‘insomnia, depression/anxiety, arthritis, Alzeimers, even cancer’ – who in the world said there is such a miracle? We certainly said no such thing. “Also, if you were truly a one time insomniac”: insomnia was the major problem of my life for many years and I can’t even begin to describe the suffering it caused me. As for insomnia “tips”, there are loads of them all over this website. This particular article is about Lunesta, not my own particular problems. As for a solution to my insomnia: there is no one answer – at least, not for me. And that is what my product is about.

  16. I replied based on CAJ’s comment, which was basically the same as my comments-it was the last one posted before mine-and today his comment is not even shown? What gives. Also I responded based on your blissplan site-which as CAJ pointed out was simply another advertisement for tips and drugs, which you had to pay for, which indeed did purport to solve all those conditions I previously cited…

    • First of all, there are NO DRUGS sold on this site. None.

      Secondly, there are 786 pages on this site and we have 5 products. That hardly seems like an overwhelming sales volume.

      Thirdly, I earn my living selling information. Are you suggesting that we have no right to sell our hard-earned information? That we should give everything away for free just because you’re ‘entitled’ to it? I am quite certain that if you or your husband work, you get paid for what you do.

      And 4th, I don’t know what happened to the comment you mention. We don’t approve spam comments on this blog but once they’re on our site we don’t delete them. Occasionally our comment software makes errors but what you’re suggesting is that we deleted this other comment to hide something. If we were as thin-skinned as all that, why would we post yours?

  17. I think this article really exaggerates what only a percentage of those who have taken Lunesta have gone through. It isn’t such a dreadful medication that destroys your life. I’ve known people who have used it for more than a few weeks and have gotten off of it just fine. I’ve been off of it three times before in the past (I take it short-term to help quell vivid nightmares), yet this time I’m struggling to get good sleep. (I have a severe mental illness and take other medications that have a sedative effect.) This past time I was taking it for about five months.

    In a way, I developed a tolerance to it – my nightmares returned just as vivid as they did before I started, but I still got to sleep just fine, so the dosage was never increased. It’s tough not getting to sleep, sleeping a few hours with several, painful nightmares, and sleeping in, but I’m not in the horror type scenario your friend seems to be in for only taking it two weeks. I find your friend’s experience incredibly difficult to believe.

    I was searching for strategies to correct my sleeping, but instead got a biased, fear mongering article that makes Lunesta to be an abomination. It’s not the medication from hell.

    • Biased? Fear mongering? Karen just about went crazy taking Lunesta and so have many others and the fact that YOU don’t believe her doesn’t detract from the terrible experience she went through.

      If you have used Lunesta successfully, good for you. I’m sincerely happy for you. However, there are many people who have had terrible problems from this drug and they ought to know what they’re getting into before they choose to take it. Check this listing on

  18. i have been on sleep aids for at least 10 years..started with my doctor giving me a prescription because of menopause symptoms..i have been on 3mg lunesta for 5 years

    i need to get off, so i started cutting in half 3 weeks ago…..i’m ok
    i have noticed i am sick at my stomach in the am
    next i a cutting the halfs in half again….i am just starting this but hope it wil be ok
    i am starting toyawn which i have not done in years…plus i am praying for help..that’s good medicine..

    • Good for you for getting off the medication. We hope you have many restful, wonderful hours of sleep ahead. Being sick to your stomach is awful – especially if it goes on and on.

    • Are you able to sleep on half doses? Have you tried natural sleep aids while on half doses? What has been your experience? Isn’t it horrid?

      • Linda, I’ve never tried lunesta, so I can’t comment on it. The idea of ANY sleep aid, natural or not, is to use as little of it as possible so half doses, quarter doses, or whatever works is best. But in answer to your question, I get at least 7 hours sleep every night, sometimes more. It’s like a new life after all those years of insomnia.

  19. JoAnn Kuchenbecker says:

    I am trying to get off of Lunesta. I have been on for 3 months. Not really doing what I need. I went cold turkey when another doctor said if it is not really helping why are you taking it? Stopping Lunesta has been a week of hell. Seeing my primary doctor tomorrow. Wish me luck on some type of relief for my body. Such a night mare.

    • JoAnn: we’re so sorry about your nightmare and wish you every luck with getting off this drug. Detoxing really is hell on earth. Let us know what happens.

  20. I have been taking it for 4 months. I saw that it has horrible side effects and it really doesn’t help like I expected anyway. Ive been off for 4 days and so far i feel no withdraw. I expected to feel withdraw but I haven’t felt anything abnormal. I am guessing not everyone will have withdraw.

  21. Hi all, it’s good to know I am in good company. I stopped taking 3mg lunesta 3 weeks ago after taking nightly for 5 years.. Not sleeping much. drinking whisky and 5mg melotonin nightly with some success. My original problem was menopausal insominia and lunesta worked like a charm. At age 59, I thought it was time to try to come off of lunesta. It’s 0230 and i’m still awake. I have to work a 12 our shift tomorrow. Oh well, things could be worse. After all, I don’t live in Afghanistan or Pakistan or any number of countries in Africa.

  22. Anyone else getting the shakes besides me after long term use (6 yrs)? Probably something else but it does make me wonder. I took Ambien for the first three years and switched to Lunesta (3mg) the last three years. After all, different side effects for different people, right?

  23. horrible withdrawal , from ambien and lunesta , had a seizure, one week ago

  24. But no one has offered any help with sleeping during the tapering off! Has anyone tried using natural sleep aids? How much and what?

  25. Kiwi girl says:

    I am still confused. I have been taking 1 mg. of Lunesta for about 8 years now due to my daughter’s illness and death. I am past 65 and don’t wan to keep taking it every night. Will cutting the pill in half work well? The taste bothers me and last night I had to vomit very violently. My son says that Valerian works for him.. Any comments?

    • Kiwi Girl: I’m sorry but we don’t take sleeping pills so we don’t know about cutting them in half. But vomiting is a strong signal from your body that it’s not happy and I would pay attention to that signal. I had the same problem and found non-drug answers: We’re so sorry about your daughter. That would give me insomnia, too. Blessings to you.

  26. Valerian and Melatonin Make me too jittery, but if I take them in the middle of the night after my initial two or 3 hours they work fine.

  27. The TWO LIARS above: “I quit Lunesta in 2 days”
    Jan 16, 2015 by Cheri Ustinoff /

    Mar 01, 2014 by Cindy in San Diego
    CLEARLY these are FAKE responses made by Lunesta marketing people- sounding like no problem with discontinuation/withdrawal..nonsense!
    ….the third response “Lunesta Ruined My Life for Months” IS CLEARLY THE ONLY TRUTHFUL SITUATION listed.

    It’s like when you go on youtube about the latest diet fade pill and there’s the obvious shrill posts there saying how great the diet product is.

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