Zopiclone vs. Zolpidem

Zopiclone vs. Zolpidem : Which is a More Viable Insomnia Treatment Choice for Short-Term Use?

According to the latest sleep statistics, a quarter of the world’s population is affected by chronic insomnia, which is a continual inability to fall asleep or sleep through the night without waking. Many factors can cause symptoms of insomnia in people, including problems with physical health, mental or psychological issues, environmental disturbances, etc.

If you have persistent difficulty falling asleep or tend to wake up too often during the night, a visit to your doctor is crucial. Your physician will run all the necessary tests and perform a thorough physical check-up to exclude or confirm a sleep disorder. When insomnia is an established diagnosis, you will be recommended an appropriate treatment, which may include medicinal and non-medicinal approaches.

Unless your condition is caused by some underlying physical health problem, your doctor will advise you to start the treatment with making small changes to your lifestyle and sleep habits, such as:

  • to keep to a minimum the time you spend in bed when not asleep;
  • to avoid taking naps during daylight hours;
  • to practice helpful breathing and muscle relaxation techniques before bedtime;
  • to limit the amount of caffeine and nicotine you consume especially in the late afternoon.

If these measures do not work to improve your condition, your physician might suggest brief use of some prescription medicinal drugs. Currently, some of the most popular sleeping medications are Zopiclone and Zolpidem , whose core active ingredients are zopiclone and zolpidem.

Both of these sleep-inducing medicines are psychoactive drugs that fall into the broader class of non-barbiturate sedative-hypnotics. They can both form addiction in patients and produce withdrawal symptoms once discontinued, so their use is normally limited to a few weeks only. If you are over 18 years old and experience continuous difficulty going to sleep, talk to your doctor to see if one of these medicines can be a viable treatment choice for you.

The mechanism of the curative action of Zopiclone vs. Zolpidem

Zopiclone and Zolpidem both work in the patient’s brain by interacting with complexes of gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors and producing a calming, anxiolytic, and myorelaxant action. While their effects are very similar, these two medications vary in their sleep onset latency and duration of action.

Zopiclone oral tablets are available in the 1mg, 2mg, and 3mg immediate release dosage forms. The highest concentration in the bloodstream is registered 1 hour after the administration, and the drug’s half-life is around 6 hours.

Zolpidem has two dosage formulations – 5mg/10mg immediate-release oral tablets and 6.25mg/12.5mg controlled-release oral pills. The IR Zolpidem tablets kick in within just 30 minutes upon oral administration, but their half-life is shorter than that of Zopiclone and equals just 2 hours. The Zolpidem controlled-release oral pills have a dual effect: they not only help you fall asleep but also ensure you stay that way for around 8 hours.

Therefore, it is possible to conclude that zopiclone appears more effective in terms of assisting patients in falling asleep, but when you need help staying asleep, the extended-release zolpidem works better.

Dosage recommendations for Zopiclone vs Zolpidem

For Zopiclone, the average starting dose is 1mg taken once daily, preferably without meals. Fatty food can reduce or delay the effect of the medication. If this dose proves inadequate, your doctor may choose to gradually increase it to 2mg or 3mg per day.

The recommended starting dose of Zolpidem is higher and depends on the patient’s sex, age, the severity of their health problem, etc. The single daily dose of Zolpidem IR is usually 5mg for women and 5mg-10mg for men. When patients are prescribed Zolpidem CR, the typical daily dose of the drug is 6.25mg for female patients, and 6.25mg-12.5mg for males.

For safety reasons, your doctor will likely put you on the lower-dose immediate-release Zolpidem tablets first and then increase the dosage or switch you to the longer-acting Zolpidem CR if necessary.

Important Warnings

Do not take any of these medicines unless you are sure you can have 8 hours for uninterrupted sleep.

Do not take any of these medicines if you are not going to bed and may yet have to perform some activities that require the full concentration of your attention, like driving a car.

Do not mix any of these medicines with alcohol because of the increased risk of developing adverse side effects.

Both drugs can cause addiction and produce symptoms of withdrawal once you suddenly stop taking them. Do not take any of these medicines for longer than the prescribed time. Do not increase the dose of these medications without discussing it with your prescribing physician first.

Talk to your doctor about gradually decreasing the amount of drug you take to ease the withdrawal symptoms.

Special warning for Zolpidem CR says you should avoid taking this medicine a day before you are expected to perform any activities that require your full alertness. The drug may still be in your system by this time, impairing your ability to concentrate.

Possible side effects that may arise after taking Zopiclone vs Zolpidem

Having a similar mechanism of action, these drugs also share a range of common side effects. Thus, they both may induce:

  • giddiness,
  • wooziness,
  • daytime sleepiness,
  • a severe drop in concentration and coordination,
  • headache,
  • the blurriness of vision,
  • nasal itching or congestion,
  • dryness of the mouth.

Some much less frequent but more adverse shared side effects include:

  • mental confusion,
  • short-term loss of memory,
  • depressive state,
  • hallucinations of hearing or vision,
  • abrupt changes in the mood,
  • suicidal ideation.

After taking any of these drugs, people have rarely reported engaging in unconscious activity, such as driving a car, preparing meals, making phone calls, or having sex, of which they later had no memory.

Unsafe interactions with other drugs

Neither of these two sleep-inducing medications should be co-administered with:

  • antihistamines,
  • narcotic pain medications,
  • neuromuscular relaxant drugs,
  • meds for treating sleep disorders,
  • cold medications that have a powerful sedative action.

Inform your physician about any medicinal and non-medicinal drugs, as well as herbal supplements you are on to make sure that taking those alongside Zolpidem or Zopiclone is safe for your health.

Key takeaways:

Zopiclone and Zolpidem are both potent fast-acting medications that successfully treat symptoms of insomnia in adult patients. They are both potentially addictive and should not be taken without your doctor’s knowledge.

Let your physician know about any Rx and OTC medicines, herbal products, or supplements you are taking. Based on this information, he will expertly decide on which of the two medications is more suitable for you and recommend the safest and most appropriate dose.