Pick Your Active Ingredients
We dug into the latest research and called upon the expertise of Andrea Paul, MD, medical advisor at Illuminate Labs, and Sarah Anderson, functional medicine nurse practitioner at Peak Integrative Wellness, to get these sleep facts straight. Heres a quick rundown of some of the most commonly used and effective sleep aids.
Buying Guide How To Shop For Over
Theres a lot to understand when it comes to OTC sleep aids. And like any product you put into your body, you want to know how to safely use them. In our buying guide, well outline everything you need to know about OTC sleep aids, including how they work, different types, safety information and other techniques for improving sleep.
How Over The Counter Medicine Differ From Prescription Sleeping Pills
Over the counter medicine doesnt require a prescription. You just head to the nearest drugstore, pick the medicine you want off the shelf, and pay for it over the counter.
Prescription medicines must be prescribed by your doctor. You then take the prescription to the pharmacy section of the drugstore and the pharmacist will dispense the medicine for you.
In either case, you should talk to your doctor first as theyll help you decide whether you need the super-strong sleeping pills that only a doctor can prescribe or the mild over the counter sleeping pills you can pick up at any Walgreens. Theyll also be able to pinpoint any underlying medical issues that are causing the sleeplessness in the first place.
The biggest difference between prescribed and OTC sleeping aids is how they are used. Your prescribed sleeping aid is for you only and is for serious, diagnosed sleeping problems like insomnia. Over the counter sleeping aids, on the other hand, can be used by anyone with sleep troubles and are a temporary solution for those occasional nights when you cant drift off to sleep. Theyll have instructions in the box with different doses depending on your age, weight, etc.
Both over the counter and prescribed medicinal sleeping aids are regulated by the FDA.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Over
Prescription sleep aids are known for their ugly side effects like dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and even increased dementia risk. But over-the-counter sleeping aids also come with their risks.
The common side effects of antihistamine sleeping aids include:
- You can develop a tolerance to them
- Daytime drowsiness
- Unintended sleepiness â like during the day when you want to sleep at night
Zenwise Labs Sleep Support
Active ingredients: Melatonin 6mg, Magnesium 80 mg, L-Taurine 200 mg, L-Theanine 200 mg, Chamomile powder 150mg, l-Ornithine 5 mg, Valerian powder 150 mg, GABA 100 mg and 5-HTP 100 mg.
The Zenwise Labs sleep aid is one of the strongest over the counter sleep aids on the market, which when you consider how many ingredients it has in it, isnt all that surprising. It contains melatonin , magnesium, L-Taurine, L-Theanine, Chamomile, l-Ornithine, Valerian, GABA and 5-HTP all ingredients which are believed to help with either relaxation or sleep.
Zenwise Labs Sleep Support helps you to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep throughout the night. Plus, because there are no reported after-effects in the morning, its ideal if you need to rush off to work soon after waking up. Its an effective sleep aid, but there are a couple of things you may want to consider. Firstly, 6 mg of melatonin is very high, as 3 mg is the usual dose found in sleep aids.
Secondly, because there are so many ingredients in this herbal supplement, it has the potential to be a little too strong for some people. As such, its a good idea to try a half dose to begin with. If you only experience a feeling of light sedation, you can always increase the dosage next time.
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What Happens If You Take A Sleeping Pill And Stay Awake
Its a scenario thats familiar to anyone whos ever taken a sleeping pill: popping the tab or swallowing the capsule, then crawling into bed and hoping for the best. But what if you stay awake? You may experience side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and headache. You may also find it more difficult to fall asleep the next time you try to take a sleep pill.
According to one sleep expert, you could be in for a nightmare.People dont realize how dangerous it can be to take sleeping pills and not sleep, said Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist. They can have all sorts of side effects like anxiety, depression, fatigue and problems with concentration. In extreme cases, people who take sleeping pills and dont sleep can experience hallucinations and even psychosis. Its basically like living in a nightmare, Breus said.
Other Combinations For Doxylamine
Products that combine doxylamine with dextromethorphan:
- Vicks NyQuil Cough
Products that combine acetaminophen, doxylamine, and phenylephrine:
- Alka-Seltzer Plus Severe Allergy Sinus Congestion & Headache
- Vicks NyQuil Sinus
- QlearQuil Nighttime Sinus & Congestion Relief
Products that combine acetaminophen, doxylamine, dextromethorphan, and pseudoephedrine:
- Vicks NyQuil D
Product that combines aspirin, doxylamine, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine:
- Alka-Seltzer Plus Night Cold & Cough Effervescent
Products that combine doxylamine and pyridoxine:
Products that combine acetaminophen, doxylamine, and dextromethorphan:
- Coricidin HBP Nighttime Multi-Symptom Cold
- Tylenol Cough & Sore Throat Nighttime
- Vicks NyQuil Cold & Flu
May interfere with safe driving and operation of machinery
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This Is How Sleeping Pills Work
Focusing on over the counter sleeping pills, there are generally 3 types available. The first thing you want to look for in the ingredients list is the active ingredients. Usually, the active ingredient will be antihistamine, melatonin, or an herbal ingredient but some sleeping pills also add extra active ingredients like ibuprofen or paracetamol.
If you just have sleep troubles, pick a brand that has only active ingredients to solve that. Leave the painkiller/sleep mixes for when you need to reduce pain as well as get to sleep.
Best For Sleep Disorders: Melatonin
- Dosage: Up to 10 milligrams
- Best for: Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
- Benefits: May help people with shift work, jet lag, insomnia, and those living in places with short night hours
- Risks: Overdose and safety in pregnancy
The brain produces the hormone melatonin. Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle by telling the body that it is almost time for sleep.
The brain makes less melatonin when it is light outside and more when it is dark, such as during the winter. Age also plays a role according to
Many sleeping aids contain melatonin. They tend to be most effective for people with circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which are problems with the timing of sleeping or waking up.
Melatonin can beneficial for people:
- having trouble falling asleep at night
- doing shift work
In recent years, manufacturers have marketed snacks and drinks that contain melatonin as relaxation products. However, doctors do not know if they are effective.
Melatonin supplements are available without a prescription from drug stores, supermarkets, and online shops. Melatonin is available in dosages of 110 mg, and a person should take them at bedtime. How long the effects last depend on the dosage taken.
It is possible to overdose on melatonin, so people should always follow product instructions or talk with a doctor about safe dosages.
Experts do not know if melatonin is safe to use during pregnancy.
The following are sedating antihistamines:
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When Should A Person Use Sleeping Pills
The best time to take melatonin will depend on the nature of the sleep problem:
- Sleeping pills for insomnia: A person with insomnia should take a sleeping aid, which includes valerian and sedative antihistamines, just before or at bedtime.
- Sleeping pills for jet lag: Melatonin is a good option if tackling jet lag. Take melatonin several hours before the intended bedtime every day throughout the trip and a few days afterward.
- Sleeping pills for shift work: Melatonin may also be the best option for people managing shift work. Taking melatonin at the end of a shift can help prepare the body for bed.
People taking sedating antihistamines should follow the directions on the medication or the advice of a medical professional.
When to take valerian depends on the type a person uses. Generally, people can take valerian an hour before going to bed. People should follow the recommended dosage for supplements.
Sleeping Pills Are Usually Not The Best Solution
Almost one-third of older people in the U.S. take sleeping pills. These drugs are called sedative- hypnotics or tranquilizers. They affect the brain and spinal cord.
Doctors prescribe the drugs for sleep problems. The drugs are also used to treat other conditions, such as anxiety or alcohol withdrawal.
Usually older adults should try nondrug treatments first. According to the American Geriatrics Society, there are safer and better ways to improve sleep or reduce anxiety. Heres why:
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Diphenhydramine And Other Antihistamine Over
Diphenhydramine and other antihistamine non-prescription over-the-counter OTC sleep aids act in the brain primarily by interfering with the action of the neurotransmitter histamine, quieting this wake-promoting system. They also block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which leads to some of the side effects we will talk about later. Diphenhydramine is one of the first generation antihistamines. Later ones such as loratadine, which enter the brain to a lesser degree, in general produce less sedation, and are primarily used for allergies rather than for sleep.
What Is The Best Sleep Aid Product
Melatonin is seen as the best sleep aid product as it has fewer side effects than other options, but itâs only a short-term solution and more suited towards shifting your sleep schedule than helping you sleep when youâd usually be trying to sleep. Improve your sleep hygiene and sync up with your circadian rhythm to improve your sleep long term.
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Antidepressants Used As Sleeping Pills
The FDA has not approved antidepressants for the treatment of insomnia, nor has their use been proven effective in treating sleeplessness. However, some antidepressants are prescribed off-label due to their sedating effects. As with all depression medication, there is a small but significant risk of suicidal thoughts or worsening of depression, particularly in children and adolescents.
What Can I Buy Over
Sleeping pills are a type of medication that is taken to help people fall asleep and stay asleep. They are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Some sleeping pills work by causing the person to relax and fall asleep quickly. Other sleeping pills work by helping the person to have a deeper sleep so they wake up feeling more rested.
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Is There An Over
There is a wide variety of over-the-counter sleep aids on the market, but it can be hard to determine which one is right for you. Different medications work differently for different people, so you may have to try a few different types before you find the one that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.
For Information And Support
Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at: .
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A Word About Prescription Sleep Aids
Prescription sleep medications are powerful drugs that work on different parts of the brain.
Benzodiazepines like lorazepam and temazepam target gamma-aminobutyric acid , a brain chemical that reduces nerve activity and promotes sleep. These medications can be habit forming, may cause daytime sleepiness, and may be associated with dementia.
Nonbenzodiazepines such as zolpidem and eszopiclone also work on GABA, but they leave the body faster and have fewer side effects, allowing for regular waking and daytime functioning the next day. However, they still increase the risk for sleepwalking and daytime sleepiness, which can lead to falls and injury.
Melatonin-receptor agonists such as ramelteon target melatonin receptors in the brain. They leave the body quickly and are not thought to be habit forming.
These medications are meant for short-term use only, under the direction of your doctor. “They’re most helpful for the treatment of insomnia. But medications are just one option to treat insomnia. Behavioral therapy, which involves looking at your sleep habits and ways you think about sleep and routines, is equally effective,” says sleep expert Dr. Lawrence Epstein, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Side Effects And Risks
OTC sleeping aids dont normally cause serious side effects or create any physical dependency concerns like prescription pills do. However, there can certainly be a risk for psychological dependency. Besides, OTC sleeping pills may become ineffective as your body builds tolerance if taken over a long period of time. They are not meant to cure insomnia, but to help reduce unpleasant symptoms of temporary sleep problems. Also, make sure to provide 7-8 hours of sleep time if you take sleeping pills. This will help reduce grogginess in the morning. The best sleep aid for you should have the least side effects on your energy levels in the morning and allow you to get sleep that feels natural and restful.
Remember that sleeping aids are not a cure for certain serious sleep problems. They may mask and provide temporary relief, but if symptoms worsen or do not resolve, talk with your primary caregiver to go over your options.
Lastly, if you find it hard to fall asleep due to loud snoring from your significant other, you may want to try Smart Nora. Nora is the most comfortable contact-free anti snore solution with a scientific validation. It has been featured on Forbes, Good Morning America, Mens Health, and Oprahs Favourite Things just to name a few. Nora is bringing better sleep to tens and thousands of couples around the world every night.
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How To Choose The Best Sleeping Pill
The best type of sleeping pill for a person will depend on the cause of sleep issues and a persons sleep patterns. People with insomnia may benefit from one medication, while those with jet lag can experience the best results from another.
People may want to start with a low-dose melatonin product or a valerian root supplement. If they do not experience improved sleep, they can look into a higher dosage.
The best way to determine the most suitable sleeping pill or dosage is to consult with a doctor for personalized recommendations.
How To Avoid Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills are not right for everyone. They can interact with other drugs. If you are pregnant, they may harm your unborn baby.
You may also be concerned about the potential for addiction. Or, you may dislike the side effects.
Fortunately, there are other ways to manage insomnia. You may find it helpful to simply change your sleep habits.
Start by keeping a regular bedtime and wake time. This will help reinforce your natural circadian rhythm.
Avoid naps during the day. Naps can reduce your bodys natural desire for sleep.
It can also help to reduce the time you spend awake in bed. This is called stimulus control. Use your bed only for sex and sleep. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something else until you feel sleepy.
Other alternatives for treating insomnia include:
- Biofeedback, a therapy that uses sensors to measure your body’s functions
- Aromatherapy, a form of sleep therapy that uses scents
- Guided imagery, a relaxation technique
- Progressive muscle relaxation
A psychologist may also be able to help. Therapy can help you learn to manage any stress and negative feelings associated with insomnia.
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What To Look For In Sleep Products
I ingested quite a few products that seemed like nothing more than candy, and many sleep aid ingredients our experts warn against.
Only use Benadryl or diphenhydramine sparingly as it’s safe in one-off instances but can reduce your REM sleep in the long term, Dr. Dimitriu says. Also, approach melatonin with caution .
Instead, consider looking for products with high concentrations of lavender. Lavender is a common ingredient that is touted for its effects on the nervous system, which include sedative and mood-stabilizing properties, which Keller explains make it ideal for tackling insomnia caused by stress. Dr. Dimitriu also recommends products with chamomile and valerian root.
A weighted blanket can be beneficial mainly for someone who is suffering from physical manifestations of stress, or for children who need soothing or sensory regulation. Outside of those individuals, you may not reap the benefits of sleeping with an extra 10-plus pounds weighing you down at night.
For those who need to force themselves out of habits that impact their sleep, managing light exposure can mean the difference between going to bed when the sun is rising or waking up feeling unsatisfied. These habits could include late-night TV watching, or using your phone or computer too close to bedtime.
If you do have prolonged difficulty falling or staying asleep, all experts recommend paying a visit to your primary care physician to rule out any medical conditions.