What To Consider In Using OTC Sleeping Pills?

a few pills of the best over the counter sleep aidHas your inability to sleep at night become a major problem for you? Are you always sluggish at work because you can’t rest well, or has your immune system deteriorated because you’re not getting enough rest? Has your insomnia worsened to the point that you’ve considered using over the counter sleep aids?

Chances are high you’re not the only person contemplating on using over the counter sleeping pills.  In the United States, it is estimated that one in four workers have insomnia. Sleep loss is said to cost the U.S. economy around $63 billion in lost productivity annually.

How big a problem is that condition in America? It’s so huge that a recent study showed that six out of ten adults in the U.S. covet enough rest more than sex.

Insomnia is not a problem that only affects Americans. On a wider scale, it is estimated that 33 percent of the world’s population suffer from mild insomnia.

So what do most of the people with insomnia do to address their recurring problem? They take non-prescription over-the-counter sleeping drugs, which are readily available in drugstores.

What Makes Up The Best OTC Sleep Aid?

OTC aids usually have a common ingredient—an antihistamine called diphenhydramine.

Antihistamines are usually given for treatment of allergies and common cold conditions.

These drugs have a relaxing effect on an individual by directing the receptors in the brain to relax. The effects of antihistamines for sleeping can last from six to eight hours.

Usually, the dose of antihistamines for sleep loss is 50 milligrams to be taken an hour before bedtime.

Another common ingredient in these pills is Melatonin, which is a hormone that is naturally produced in our bodies by the pineal gland found in the brain. The hormone plays an important role in the sleep-wake cycle. Production of the hormone is at its highest at night, and ceases when we wake up in the morning.

When taken in low doses of up to 3 milligrams daily, sleeping aids with melatonin have been shown effective in people who have jetlag and even delayed sleep phase disorder.

Most pills with Melatonin should be taken at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

Some of the more common OTC sleeping aid brands include:

  • Sominex
  • Sleepinal
  • Compoz
  • Unisom
  • Nighttime Sleep Aid
  • Nature’s Harmony

It should be noted that this pills should only be used for short-term treatment of insomnia. These medications can cause side effects when used regularly.

What are the Common Side Effects of OTC Sleep Aids?

There are lots of potential side effects of regularly popping OTC pills, which explains why doctors advise against the long-term use of these medications.

Some of the common side effects of sleeping aids are:

  1. Addiction—sleeping aids should never be used for more than two weeks, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  2. Nausea
  3. Constipation
  4. Vomiting
  5. Skin rash
  6. Appetite increase and weight gain
  7. Low blood pressure
  8. Headaches
  9. Prostate problems
  10. Blurred vision
  11. Liver toxicity
  12. Drowsiness and fatigue

How Can You Avoid Side Effects?

If you decide to try drugs, you should talk to your doctor first. Although you can get even the strongest OTC sleeping pills without any prescription, talking with a specialist before you use any pill can spare you from potential problems.

This is especially true if you have are taking other medications, including pain relievers, allergy medicines, and herbal supplements. Combining sleeping aids with these medications can be very dangerous.

The doctor may also give you specific instructions for terminating use, or lowering the dose of the pill. In some cases, terminating the use of the pill abruptly can cause side effects.

The specialist may also recommend which medications to use especially if you have medical problems like high blood pressure, glaucoma, and breathing difficulties.

What are Your Alternatives to Sleeping Pills?

In case you are wary of the side effects of pills on your health, you may want to try other alternatives to OTC sleeping supplements, like changing your bedtime habits, improving sleep hygiene, or new natural sleep aids.

Habits: Sleep specialists argue that changing your habits can help you get sound rest on a regular basis. For instance, you can cut down on your intake of caffeine-based drinks like coffee and sodas if you want to rest fast and soundly at night. You should also avoid using cellphones or tablets before going to bed, as this can distract you.

Environment: You may also look at how your bedroom is set-up or arranged. Your bedroom may not be conducive to sleeping, and this could be a reason why you are not getting enough rest. Start by changing your bed sheets, or setting the air-conditioning thermostat between 60 to 70 degrees F.

Temperature: Even a warm bath may help you relax and condition your mind to rest early. A soothing soak can slightly raise your body temperature, and the rapid cool down when you get out of the tub can simulate the temperature drop our brain triggers to prepare our body for rest.

There is a scientific basis for the effectiveness of a warm bath in helping people sleep better, with a study done in 1985 showing that those who take a warm bath before hitting the sack can rest faster and more soundly.

You may also make your exercises more frequently if you want to rest better without taking over the counter sleeping aids.  One study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation showed that people who work out regularly get better sleep than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Exercises like yoga may also help you get more or better rest, as it can make you more relaxed. It can also release tension especially after a long day.


The bottom line is that even the best over the counter sleep aid can’t compare to modern natural formulas like Lunar Sleep.