Over the years, I’ve come across several women who ask their doctor to prescribe them sleeping tablets.

None of them was happy with the result. Admittedly, my number in question is infinitesimal to those whom Big Pharma have studied and on whom they tested their medication.

Nonetheless, wouldn’t you have thought I’d have found a majority of friends and ex-colleagues who were happy with the results?

None of these ladies ever said how rested or relaxed they were. Most said they’d felt they’d been hit with a sledgehammer the night before or couldn’t wake up or had problems driving into work because they were so … sleepy.

Today’s side effect listing is for eszoplicone, which is the active ingredient in one prescription sleeping tablet, Lunesta. N.B.: Not all of the following apply specifically to Lunesta, although they do to eszoplicone.

Emphases mine in the excerpts below:

Lunesta is a sedative, also called a hypnotic. It affects chemicals in your brain that may become unbalanced and cause sleep problems (insomnia) …

Lunesta may cause a severe allergic reaction. Stop taking Lunesta and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Lunesta will make you fall asleep. Never take this medication during your normal waking hours, unless you have at least 8 hours to dedicate to sleeping.

Some people using this medicine have engaged in activity such as driving, eating, or making phone calls and later having no memory of the activity. If this happens to you, stop taking Lunesta and talk with your doctor about another treatment for your sleep disorder.

Lunesta can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. You may still feel sleepy the morning after taking the medication. Until you know how this medication will affect you during waking hours, be careful if you drive, operate machinery, pilot an airplane, or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert. Do not drink alcohol while you are taking this medication. It can increase some of the side effects of Lunesta, including drowsiness. Lunesta may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Lunesta should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

You may have withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking this medication after taking it over several days in a row. Do not stop taking Lunesta suddenly without first talking to your doctor. You may need to use less and less before you stop the medication completely.

Now onto the eszoplicone side effects page, not all of which pertain to Lunesta:

Applies to eszopiclone: oral tablet

Eszopiclone may cause a severe allergic reaction. Stop taking eszopiclone (the active ingredient contained in Lunesta) and Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction while taking eszopiclone: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using eszopiclone and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • aggression, agitation, changes in behavior;
  • thoughts of hurting yourself; or
  • hallucinations (hearing or seeing things).

Less serious side effects of eszopiclone may include:

  • day-time drowsiness, dizziness, “hangover” feeling;
  • problems with memory or concentration;
  • anxiety, depression, nervous feeling;
  • headache;
  • nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, constipation;
  • dry mouth;
  • unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth; or
  • mild skin rash.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect …

Agitation, apathy, emotional lability, hostility, hypertonia, hypesthesia, incoordination, insomnia, memory impairment, neurosis, nystagmus, paresthesia, decreased reflexes, abnormal thinking (mainly difficulty concentrating), and vertigo have been reported infrequently. Abnormal gait, euphoria, hyperesthesia, hypokinesia, neuritis, neuropathy, stupor and tremor have been reported rarely.

My advice? Buy tablets over the counter (mind over matter). Better yet, get plenty of water during the day (hydration helps to aid sleep) and, if necessary, have a small amount of carbohydrate (e.g. biscuit) with a cup of warm milk or similar bedtime drink (e.g. Horlicks).

I’m no doctor, but anything that’s going to raise the emotions, distort your functions or put you into a stupor during the day cannot be safe for you or other people. Take this medication at your own risk.

Furthermore, sleeping tablets will not resolve underlying issues, be they relationships or financial matters.

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