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Alcohol and Medications

Can You Drink on Lunesta?

Published:
June 8, 2024
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19 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 8, 2024
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19 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 8, 2024
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19 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 8, 2024
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19 min read
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Reframe Content Team
June 8, 2024
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19 min read

Mixing Alcohol and Lunesta Is Dangerous

  • Lunesta is a hypnotic sleep medication used to treat insomnia. Mixing it with alcohol can cause severe side effects such as mood and personality changes, memory loss, and dangerous activities in our sleep.
  • We can avoid these nightmarish effects by avoiding alcohol while taking Lunesta, not taking more than prescribed, and only taking it as long as prescribed.
  • Reframe can help you quit or cut back on alcohol, which will improve your sleep naturally and help you wake up refreshed!

One hundred … ninety-nine … ninety-eight … still awake? Did counting sheep not work to fall asleep for the 18th night in a row? You counted backwards from 300 only to have to start all over? Or could your lack of sleep have something to do with the drinks you had last night? Either way, there comes a point when sleepytime teas just aren't cutting it anymore, so we may try medications to help. Lunesta (or eszopiclone) is one such medication.

What Is Lunesta?

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Insomnia can be insufferable. Lunesta treats some forms of insomnia, helping us not only fall asleep faster but stay asleep throughout the night. Lunesta works by balancing out chemicals in the brain, including GABA. Lunesta increases the receptivity of GABA in the brain, which produces a relaxing effect and improves our ability to sleep. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not a miracle drug, and it does come with side effects.

Lunesta Side Effects

Let’s take a look at some of Lunesta’s side effects.

  • Addiction. Lunesta can be addictive, and the risk of addiction is higher in those who already abuse alcohol or other drugs, which we’ll get into later. The best way to avoid this? Only take Lunesta as prescribed.
  • Severe allergic reaction. As with most medications, allergic reactions are a risk. Symptoms include hives, nausea, or swelling of facial areas.
  • Dangerous activities in our sleep. Some people engage in activities while fully asleep, such as driving, walking, or making phone calls, with no memory of it the next morning. As you can imagine, this is extremely dangerous (not to mention embarrassing!). So it might be worth deleting your ex’s phone number before taking Lunesta, just in case.
  • Dangers if woken too early. Warnings about Lunesta make it very clear that you need to have time for at least seven hours of sleep after taking it and should not be woken up before that. If we’re awakened too early, we may experience memory loss and impair our ability to safely do daily activities such as driving.

As if these side effects aren’t worrisome enough, adding alcohol makes them worse. Let’s take a closer look at why.

What Happened Last Night? Risks of Mixing Lunesta With Alcohol

Is it safe to have a drink and then take Lunesta? Or have a drink the day after we took Lunesta? The answer is “no” to both. Lunesta stays in our system longer than we might think.

How Long Does Lunesta Stay in Your System?

While we feel the effects of Lunesta for around eight hours, the half-life is six hours, and it’s fully out of our system in 24-48 hours. If we take it every day for a couple of weeks, however, there is always some lingering in our system, so we should avoid alcohol for at least a day or two after taking Lunesta.

But what happens exactly when we mix the two?

Side Effects of Combining Alcohol and Lunesta

Side Effects of the Combo: A Living Nightmare

There’s only one way to say it: we should avoid alcohol at all costs before or while taking Lunesta. To start, alcohol depletes GABA in the brain, which counteracts the GABA-producing effects of Lunesta, compounding the side effects. Alcohol is also a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, and mixing it with sedatives like Lunesta adds to these depressive effects. Let’s take a look at them.

  • Dizziness. Lunesta can cause dizziness by itself. Alcohol also makes us dizzy by interfering with the vestibular system — the part of the inner ear that keeps us balanced. The combination worsens this effect and increases our risk of falling.
  • Drowsiness. There is such a thing as a Lunesta “hangover,” which means we can feel sleepy during the day. Combined with alcohol, which depresses the CNS, it can make us feel extra drowsy during daily activities.
  • Impaired thinking and judgment. Alcohol does this all by itself by depressing our inhibitions, and the combination doubles the trouble.
  • Increased risk of dangerous activities in our sleep. While alcohol may not cause sleepwalking directly, it has been linked as a trigger in 12% of sleepwalkers according to one study. 
  • Memory loss and blackouts. These side effects can follow activities we do in our sleep. Since alcohol affects our memory and can cause blackouts, we’re setting ourselves up for a whole lot of “What did I do last night?”
  • Breathing difficulties and unconsciousness. We shouldn’t take Lunesta if we have any breathing disorders or difficulties, and we certainly shouldn’t mix it with alcohol, since alcohol affects the vascular system and can worsen any breathing issues we may have. In extreme cases, it can render us unconscious.
  • Increased risk of liver disease. Alcohol and Lunesta are both processed by the liver, and prolonged Lunesta use has been linked to liver disease.
  • Increased risk of addiction and overdose. The addictive properties of Lunesta are much more dangerous for those of us who abuse alcohol, and the combination can lead to overdose.

On top of all that, mixing alcohol with Lunesta makes it more likely that the side effects will continue into the next day, sort of like a hangover. 

In some cases, Lunesta can make us behave out of the ordinary. For example, we may act aggressively, be confused or agitated, and even have hallucinations. We may also feel depressed or have suicidal thoughts, especially if we’re prone to them. Adding alcohol to the mix only increases these risks.

Who Have I Become?

As if the immediate side effects of mixing Lunesta and alcohol aren’t bad enough, it gets worse. The Lunesta-alcohol combo can wreak havoc on our mood and personality. Let’s take a look at what research has to say about this.

Lunesta is classified as a sedative — specifically, a hypnotic. Hypnotics in general must be taken with caution and only in the short term. Hypnotics like Lunesta can cause mood swings, personality changes, and even hallucinations. In severe cases, we can develop eszopiclone-induced psychosis, which researchers found in a man only a few months after undergoing insomnia treatment with Lunesta. It can also lead to hallucinations and aggressiveness that may be out of character.

Alcohol impairs the function of the prefrontal cortex, which can lead us to act angrily or aggressively if provoked. If we’re taking both substances, our risk of psychosis increases, and combined with the possibility of us doing things in our sleep, we run the risk of harming ourselves or others and not remembering a thing about it.

Alcohol and Insomnia: Not-So-Sweet Dreams

Another important reason to avoid mixing Lunesta and alcohol is that alcohol may be the cause of our sleep problems. Alcohol disrupts our sleep and worsens insomnia if we have it. Alcohol inhibits GABA, as well as other neurotransmitters that activate the “sleep” cells in our brain. On top of that, it disrupts the release of melatonin. It may help us fall asleep, but it causes poor sleep quality and affects our sleep-wake cycle, which is why we’re often wide awake at 3 a.m. after a night of drinking.

Many people don’t realize this about alcohol, and they blame their insomnia on other things, often using alcohol as a way to help them fall asleep. If you do suffer from insomnia, try quitting alcohol for a few weeks and see if your sleep quality improves. You may find you don’t need medication at all!

If you’re still suffering from insomnia, however, and Lunesta seems too risky for you, there are plenty of other ways to improve your sleep and wake up feeling more rested.

Other Ways To Treat Insomnia

Are you considering other options for insomnia besides Lunesta? If you are, there are plenty of things you can do or medications you can take besides relying on sleeping pills:

  • Melatonin supplements. A hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, melatonin is safe for short-term use — around two months, depending on the person.
  • Exercise. Research shows that regular exercise helps us sleep better and longer. So don’t be afraid to get those push-ups out of the way before bedtime.
  • Nighttime routine. While it may take a while to kick in, having a bedtime routine and going to bed at the same time each night helps our body get in sync with its sleep-wake cycle. Set an alarm to signal “time for bed” and stick to it.
  • Sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to habits we can do to improve our sleep, such as not using electronics in bed and making sure our environment is relaxing. Turn the lights down, keep the room cool, and put that phone down! 
  • Tryptophan. Tryptophan releases melatonin, which can be taken as a supplement. It also can be found in certain foods such as chicken, turkey, cheese, oats, bananas, dried prunes, milk, tuna fish, bread, peanuts, and chocolate. So enjoy that turkey sandwich, and check out this table to see how much tryptophan you’re getting.
  • Meditation. Remember all that counting we were doing earlier? Well, that’s kind of like meditating. Controlled breathing exercises and visualizations are great for our brain all around.
  • Sleep podcasts. If you struggle with maintaining your focus while meditating, and your mind starts racing again, try listening to sleep podcasts. Some are designed to be as boring as possible, so you’ll fall asleep in no time!
  • Therapy. At the end of the day (no pun intended), dealing head-on with whatever is keeping us up at night might be the only way to get lasting relief.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t take Lunesta, but if we do, we should be careful about how long we take it and with what.

Tips To Stay Safe on Lunesta

Finally, if we decide to stick with Lunesta, here are some tips we can follow to stay safe:

  • Avoid alcohol. We can’t stress this enough: if you know you will be drinking, it’s best to avoid Lunesta altogether.
  • Stop after two weeks. We shouldn’t take Lunesta for more than two weeks to avoid dependence or develop tolerance. Long-term Lunesta use is toxic for our liver and other organs and has been associated with a mortality rate similar to smoking. If your insomnia persists, it might be time to explore other options.
  • Create a quiet sleep environment. Remember how we need to block out at least seven hours for Lunesta nights? This is a serious requirement of Lunesta, so it may be a good idea to pop in those earplugs and put on an eyeshade before hitting the sack so we don’t awake too soon.
  • Have someone keep an eye on you. While it may not be feasible for everyone, it may be helpful to have someone stay in the room with you. They can gently lead you back to bed should you start to sleepwalk
  • Don’t mix it. Lunesta has some serious interactions, not just with alcohol but with other medications, too. Avoid mixing Lunesta with other sleep medications, opioid pain medications, muscle relaxers, or other CNS depressants.

Our health should be our priority, and that requires proper sleep. Get that right and you’ll have the energy to tackle whatever comes our way.

Saying Goodnight

Remember, sleep is a requirement, not a luxury. No matter what’s keeping you up at night, alcohol won’t fix it. Those of us with chronic insomnia know how torturous it can feel, and long-term lack of sleep can create a poor quality of life all around. It’s time for you to prioritize your sleep above all else so you can enjoy your waking hours more fully.

Summary FAQs

1. What are the side effects of Lunesta?

Some side effects of Lunesta include drowsiness, allergic reactions, and doing activities in our sleep without remembering them.

2. Can you drink while taking Lunesta?

No, it’s not a good idea to drink on Lunesta because it can intensify the side effects. The combination can cause memory loss and blackouts, alter our mood and personality, and increase our risk of sleepwalking and other activities while sleeping.,

3. How long does Lunesta stay in your system?

Lunesta stays in our system for 24-48 hours, even though we feel the sedative effects of it for only 8 hours or so.

4. What else should I avoid while taking Lunesta?

We should avoid mixing Lunesta with other sleeping medications, any opioid pain medications, muscle relaxers, or CNS depressants (including alcohol).

Get a Good Night’s Sleep by Quitting Alcohol With Reframe!

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