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Choosing the Right Sleeping Pill -- Ambien, Lunesta or Sonata? Choosing the

It's hell to not be able to sleep well. You stay up all night, and then get drowsy during the day, and eventually everything becomes a grayish blur, your nights and days blending into an endless twilight. 

You can't live like this. Though many people try different strategies to overcome it, dumping caffeine and changing bedtime routines doesn't always take care of it. And forget about over-the-counter treatments; you may as well just take a hot bath. Sometimes you just have to have the strong stuff, prescription sleeping pills. 

But which do you choose? There are dozens of different medications in different formulations. But most people swear by one of three: Ambien, Sonata, or Lunesta. 

Ambien (generic name zolpidem tartrate) is described as a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic. This just means that it is an effective non-addictive sleeping aid that works by making your brain drop into a sleep state. It does act on some of the same parts in your brain that Dipezona or Valium affects, which means that it is just as strong but not as dangerous. It also doesn't accumulate in your body like some drugs do. 

Ambien's side effects, according to Drugs.com, help you get to sleep in cases of transient insomnia (that's when you can't get to sleep sometimes, but not every night) and chronic insomnia, and also help you sleep longer without waking up during the night, ensuring you get a good night's sleep. Older sleeping medications often knock you out, but don't help you get restful sleep. In addition, in ordinary dosages (5-mg tablet), there are no rebound effects; you can function normally the next day, and it won't mess up your sleep patterns otherwise. As with any sleeping medication, you should seek it out only after eliminating possibilities of other illnesses that might be causing your insomnia. And you should use only the smallest effective dose as needed. You should also take it immediately before going to bed, not when you know you're going to be driving home; and you should avoid alcohol while taking Ambien and other nerves that depress your nervous system. 

Sonata (zaleplon) is also used for short-term treatment of insomnia. Unlike Ambien, it isn't taken as-needed; instead, it is used for a short period of time (7-10 days), making it an ideal medication to take if you need to reset your sleep clock, for instance, if you're suffering from severe jet lag. Unlike Ambien, Sonata can be habit forming, and should never be taken in larger doses or more frequently than you're told to take it. If you're allergic to aspirin or taking allergy or cold medications, you should probably avoid Sonata. It should also not be taken with alcohol, or after a high-fat or dense meal. Generic Sonata is known as Zaleplon. 

Side effects of Sonata, according to the NIH include drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, a lack of coordination, headache, constipation, dry mouth, and muscle aches. If you have other symptoms, you should call a doctor. 

The last of the commonly-prescribed insomnia drugs, Lunesta (eszopiclone), is also designed for short-term nightly use, but is not habit forming. Instead, the reason it should be limited to short-term use is that it can lose effectiveness fairly quickly if used for too long. Like the other sleeping medications above, it should not be used if you are drinking alcohol, taking antihistamines or other cold and allergy medications, or if you have liver problems. And it should only be taken if regular medical and psychological problems have been eliminated as the cause of your insomnia. According to RX List, Lunesta may also cause a peculiar memory loss; for several hours after taking this medication, if you wake up while the medication is still in effect you may not remember your actions afterward. For this reason, Lunesta should only be taken when you know you're going to be sleeping.  

It comes down to which one you need in your circumstances. If you just need an occasional sleeping aid, but the over-the-counter drugs don't do it for you, Ambien is probably your best bet. If you need something a little longer, your best choice to reset your sleeping clock is Lunesta. And if you need something stronger than Lunesta and know you only need it for a short time, then Sonata is probably the right choice.

Here are links to SwopNet Medical Guides to some common medical ailments. These guides provide practical, helpful, un-biased information for patients.

About the medical recommendations on these pages: Some of the medications listed are prescription drugs (requiring a doctor's prescription). Other low cost drugs listed are over the counter drugs (available as drugs without prescriptions) and do not require you to visit a doctor. In any case, you should consult your local physician before ordering or taking any medications. And in all cases, the advice of a licensed medical practitioner familiar with your particular condition should be sought. 




Here are some alternative spellings that people have used when looking for the information on this web page: Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, amben, ambein, ambin, lunista, lunestra, sonota, tonata, etc.