Best over the counter sleep aid

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Are you constantly tossing and turning, or waking up in the middle of the night? If so, you may want to try using an over-the-counter sleep aid. There are many different types of sleep aids available, and it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. In this blog post, we will discuss the best over-the-counter sleep aids on the market today. We will also talk about how they work and what kind of results you can expect. So if you’re looking for a good night’s rest, keep reading!

What medications to take when you cannot sleep

It’s distressing when you have difficulty falling or remaining asleep. It’s referred to as insomnia when it happens frequently. Many individuals who suffer from sleeplessness turn to sleeping medications in order to fall asleep.

The ethics of over-the-counter and prescription sleep medicines are discussed in this post. It also discusses some additional strategies to sleep better and when you should visit a doctor.

How over the counter medicine differ from prescription sleeping pills

The active components of different OTC sleep aids are the best method to tell them apart. The majority of sleeping pills on the market include either Diphenhydramine HCl or Doxylamine Succinate, which are both antihistamines. Histamine is released when you have an allergic reaction or a cold, and it causes blood flow to increase at the site of infection. Antihistamines function by binding to histamine receptors in cells, reducing allergy symptoms related to the histamine response.

Drowsiness is also a side effect of many first-generation antihistamines, such as Diphenhydramine HCl and Doxylamine Succinate. This occurs since they fail to distinguish between various histamine receptors and instead inhibit any histamines that maintain sleep. If you’re using an antihistamine for allergy relief, this might not be ideal, but it makes both chemicals perfect for use in sleep aids.

What is Insomnia?

counter sleep aids

The most frequent sleep problem is insomnia. It affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. Acute insomnia occurs when the cause of sleeplessness is stress or something that can be determined. When the condition is associated with stress, it’s known as acute insomnia. When you have difficulty sleeping the night before a big exam, for example, this is known as acute insomnia.

Insomnia can last for a long time. Chronic sleeplessness is the term used to describe this condition. Chronic sleeplessness is defined as having insomnia at least three nights a week, for at least three months. There are techniques that might assist you in falling asleep. Some are more successful than others. Others, on the other hand, may create new difficulties.

How sleeping pills work

There are generally three types of over-the-counter sleeping medications available. The first thing you should look for in the list of ingredients is the active components. Typically, the active component will be an antihistamine, melatonin, or a herbal component (such as valerian or chamomile extracts), but some sleeping pills also include additional active chemicals such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.

If you just have sleep difficulties, choose a company that offers solely active compounds to cure them. For when you need to reduce pain and fall asleep, use non-pain medication/sleep mixes.

Home remedies for sleep

If you have insomnia, you’re probably looking for a quick cure. There are several well-known home treatments for sleeplessness. Food, drink, and over-the-counter pills are among them. Many of these treatments haven’t been proven to work. Some can even be harmful.


sleep cycle

You’ve probably heard that a glass of warm milk or a turkey sandwich may aid in sleep. Unfortunately, many of these treatments haven’t been tested.

Warm milk, for example, may be soothing. This might put you in the right frame of mind for sleep. Milk or a combination of milk and honey has been shown to help people sleep in a few research.

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Tryptophan is found in turkey, for example. Tryptophan is converted to the neurotransmitter serotonin by the body. You may feel sleepy if your brain has too much serotonin.

There is some evidence that tryptophan supplements can help you sleep. The tryptophan you get from what you eat does not, however, function as a sleeping aid.

Melatonin is also found in many types of food. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps control your circadian rhythm and natural sleep cycle.

Tart cherries are a good source of melatonin. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough melatonin in food to help you sleep. To notice any change, you’d have to eat a lot of these foods.

Herbal teas

Herbal teas are a popular sleep aid at home. They may assist you in falling asleep.

A variety of plants, including valerian and passionflower, have been found to improve sleep quality. This implies they may assist you in sleeping more soundly. They may not help you fall asleep any faster, though.

When selecting herbal tea as a sleep aid, be cautious. Anything that contains caffeine should be avoided.

What to avoid

sleep medications

Your diet or beverage before bedtime might be contributing to your sleeplessness. Here are a few things to avoid eating and drinking before going asleep.

Eating just before bed

Avoid eating a large meal just before going to sleep. Heartburn can occur as a result of this. Spicy meals and tomato-based products may produce the same symptoms.

When you eat, your body releases insulin. Insulin also promotes wakefulness. This is why it’s a good idea to have your last meal about three hours before bedtime.


Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant. It can keep you awake by blocking the effects of adenosine. This is a chemical that makes you feel tired. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, and some sodas.


most otc sleep aids

Alcohol has long been employed as a sleep aid. For some individuals, drinking at bedtime is a routine.

We now realize that alcohol is ineffective as a sleep aid. Alcohol is a depressant. Your body produces more adenosine when you drink alcohol. Adenosine is a sleep-inducing chemical produced in the body by consuming alcohol.

You may find that you can sleep better after drinking alcohol, but the quality of your slumber is fractured and disrupted. Alcohol disrupts REM sleep. The dream state of sleep is known as REM.

The sleep you get after drinking alcohol isn’t restful. You may then experience the symptoms of sleep deprivation following.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which you stop breathing repeatedly during the night. This is when you stop breathing several times throughout the night. Alcohol contributes to obstructive sleep apnea because it relaxes the airway muscles.

Over-the-counter sleeping pills

Some people use sleeping pills to help them fall asleep. Many of these medications claim to work immediately. Unfortunately, few of them are successful.


Diphenhydramine is a well-known antihistamine that has FDA approval. It may be found in various OTC pain-relieving or fever-reducing medicines, including Advil PM, Excedrin PM, Nytol, Tylenol PM, and ZzzQuil. Sleepiness can be treated with medications containing diphenhydramine on rare occasions.

The effectiveness of diphenhydramine as a sleep aid is debatable. Some research has given participants the specified 50mg dose of diphenhydramine, and the results indicated that sleep improvements were modest at best. At the same time, taken in the evening, diphenhydramine has been linked to psychomotor impairment and reduced wakefulness the next day.

A few studies have discovered that a substantial number of older people may be taking medications with diphenhydramine for insomnia treatment or self-care on a regular basis. Elderly persons are more prone to sleep deprivation due to medical issues such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In the US, 35% of over-the-counter drug usage is by folks 65 and older, with 12% of adults 65 and overusing OTC sleeping pills.

Elderly persons who take these drugs on a regular basis may find them difficult to tolerate because our bodies’ metabolisms slow down as we get older, extending the duration of medications and their effects. If you take these sleep aids in the evening, you might experience a “residual sedative effect.”

See also  Do sleeping pills work?

Diphenhydramine is a common over-the-counter medicine. It’s safe for most people, but it can cause drowsiness in sensitive individuals and possible dependency in those suffering from allergies. Because of this, teenagers and young adults should be especially cautious with diphenhydramine. The FDA warns that excessive doses of diphenhydramine can result in serious medical issues including seizures, heart attack, coma, and death. Many young people have been admitted to hospitals throughout the world after ingesting large doses of diphenhydramine as part of the “Benadryl Challenge” promoted on social media platforms.


improve sleep

Melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical produced in the pineal gland of the brain. The retinas detect natural light during the day and notify the brain to produce hormones like cortisol that encourage feelings of wakefulness and awareness. The pineal gland receives signals to release melatonin as daylight fades at night, making you feel tired and calm.

Some factors, such as light exposure in the evening that confused the brain into thinking you should be awake, might hinder or decrease melatonin production. Some people take melatonin pills to raise low melatonin levels. These medicines are often created from animals, bacteria, or synthetic chemicals.

Melatonin may be recommended or supplied for a variety of purposes. Chronological rhythm sleep disorders that lower your melatonin levels, such as delayed sleep-wake phase disorder and shift work syndrome, as well as certain childhood sleeping disorders, are examples of conditions that may be addressed with melatonin. Melatonin might also help travelers mitigate the effects of jet lag.

Melatonin is a dietary supplement that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate as strictly as other types of drugs. According to doctors, some people are allergic to melatonin. When taking melatonin, those who have epilepsy or take blood-thinning medication should be under medical supervision to avoid potentially hazardous interactions.


Like diphenhydramine, doxylamine – also known as doxylamine succinate – is a first-generation antihistamine that can produce sedative effects. Doxylamine can serve as a short-term treatment for insomnia, or be used with decongestants to alleviate cold symptoms such as sneezing or nasal congestion. It is marketed under brand names such as Unisom SleepTabs, Medi-Sleep, and Good Sense Sleep Aid, and may also be an active ingredient in pain-relieving and fever-reducing medications.

If you take doxylamine for insomnia and your symptoms don’t go away after two weeks, you should talk to your doctor about alternative treatments. Also, if the cough and cold medication doxylamine is taken for more than seven days, it should not be done again. To date, 31 major drug interactions with doxylamine have been discovered, including aspirin and acetaminophen.

Senior citizens, like many people who suffer from seasonal allergies or insect bites, are often exposed to these medications in a long-term manner. This might result in serious health issues if the patient also consumes alcohol on a daily basis.


other sleep disorders

Valerian is a herbal remedy that’s been marketed and sold as a dietary supplement under the brand name “valerian root,” and it’s often included in mild sedatives for insomnia and anxiety. While the mechanism by which valerian works isn’t entirely clear, researchers speculate it interacts with GABA, serotonin, and adenosine receptors. To date, there has been little evidence to suggest that valerian is effective for sleeping problems.

Because valerian is a dietary supplement, it does not go through the same level of FDA scrutiny and approval as other types of sleep aids. Because of this, the ingredients in valerian root pills from different manufacturers may vary. Higher doses of valerian at night have been linked to morning drowsiness, although a normal 600mg dose does not appear to impair reaction time, alertness, or attention.

The effects of valerian on unborn babies and infants require further study, therefore women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take valerian unless they are under medical supervision. Children aged three years or younger also should avoid valerian due to the risk of interacting with other sleep medicines and causing grogginess the next day.


When deciding whether or not to take an over-the-counter sleep aid, first consider the reason you are having sleeplessness. Sleep aids may be used in conjunction with other therapies for short periods of time, but they should never be taken long term. When trying a new sleeping pill for the first time, it is best to do so on a weekend when you don’t have any responsibilities and can safely experience side effects such as grogginess.

See also  Do sleeping pills work?

If nonprescription medications aren’t working for you after two weeks of use, consult your doctor about alternative treatments that might be better suited to your needs.


What is the best across-the-counter sleep aid?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best sleep aid for you may not be the best sleep aid for someone else. However, over-the-counter sleep aids can be a great way to get some relief from occasional sleeplessness, and there are many different types available. Choose the one that is most likely to work well for you based on your individual needs and preferences. For example, if you have trouble falling asleep at night, consider taking a sedative; alternatively, if you wake up frequently during the night, an antihistamine might be a good option. Always read the label carefully and follow the directions closely. If your symptoms don’t improve after two weeks of using an over-the-counter sleep aid, consult your physician about other treatment options.

How does Unisom work?

Unisom is a brand name for over-the-counter sleeping pills that contain doxylamine succinate as their active ingredient. This medicine is an antihistamine that works by blocking histamine, a chemical in the body that causes drowsiness and fatigue when it builds up too high levels during allergy attacks or after taking certain medications such as cold medicines or sedatives. It should not be used without consulting with a doctor first because of potential side effects like increased heart rate (palpitations) which could lead to cardiac arrest if left untreated! The best way to determine if you need Unisom would be to schedule a check-up with your family physician and to be completely candid about how long the sleeplessness has been going on, what other medications you are taking (prescription or over the counter), etc.

What is the difference between over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids?

The main difference between over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids is that prescriptions drugs have undergone more rigorous testing by the FDA in order to ensure their safety and efficacy. Over-the-counter sleeping pills are available without a prescription because they are considered safe for most people when used as directed. However, just because a drug is sold over the counter does not mean that it is free from potential side effects – always read the label carefully before taking any medication. If you are having trouble sleeping and the over-the-counter sleep aids you are taking aren’t helping, consult your doctor about prescription medications that might be better suited to your needs.

What should I do if I experience side effects from an over-the-counter sleep aid?

If you experience any adverse side effects after taking an over-the-counter sleep aid, stop taking the medication and consult your doctor immediately. Some common side effects of these medications include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. However, some people may experience more serious side effects like changes in heart rate or seizures, so it is important to be aware of the risks before taking any type of sleeping pill.

What is the best natural sleep aid?

There are many different types of natural sleep aids available, but they’re not all created equal. The most common ones include melatonin supplements which work by regulating circadian rhythms in people who suffer from insomnia; valerian root extract has been shown to be effective in improving sleep quality, and chamomile tea is a relaxant that can help to calm the mind before bedtime. However, it’s important to note that not all-natural sleep aids are regulated by the FDA, so it’s important to do your research before taking any kind of supplement. And as always, consult with a doctor if you are experiencing chronic insomnia.

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Vaishnavi Shetty
Neurologist who specializes in the healthcare of patients with neurological disorders
Articles: 4

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