OTC Sleeping Pills

Using over-the-counter sleeping pills for a healthy person is not the first choice to which he should resort in case of insomnia. But if you have tried other methods and they do not help you, then pills for insomnia can help you.

You’ve followed the typical tips for getting sufficient sleep — sleeping on a regular schedule, avoiding caffeine and daytime naps, working out routinely, avoiding lighted screens before bed, and handling stress. Still, it’s been weeks and a good night’s sleep remains elusive. Is it time for an over-the-counter sleep help? Here’s what you need to understand if you’re thinking about medication to assist you sleep.


Many individuals may not need sleeping pills. By practicing good sleep health, working out, and avoiding alcohol and nicotine, a person can frequently improve their sleep cycle and prevent insomnia.

Sleeping disorders involves having problem falling or staying asleep. Individuals with sleeping disorders may wake up prematurely or not feel refreshed upon waking.

If way of life adjustments do not work, for instance when insomnia is severe, a sleeping pill might be a good short-term solution, states MNT website. Avoid the long-lasting use of sleeping tablets, because it can make sleeping disorders worse, particularly if a person stops taking the tablets.

The variety of sleeping pills consists of supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs. Anyone with ongoing insomnia should consult their medical professional about the best technique.

How Do Sleeping Pills Work?

Over-the-counter sleeping pills can be effective for an occasional sleepless night. There are a couple of caveats, however.

Many over-the-counter sleeping pills contain antihistamines, according to Mayo Clinic. Tolerance to the sedative effects of antihistamines can establish quickly — so the longer you take them, the less most likely they are to make you drowsy. In addition, some over-the-counter sleep aid can leave you feeling dazed and weak the next day. This is the so-called hangover result.

Medication interactions are possible also, and much remains unidentified about the safety and effectiveness of over-the-counter sleeping pills.

Types of OTC Sleeping Pills

Sedating antihistamines

Sedating antihistamines can help people who have trouble falling or staying asleep.

Some OTC antihistamines, which people typically use to treat allergies, can trigger drowsiness.

Though not all antihistamines have this effect, people sometimes utilize first-generation antihistamines, or sedating antihistamines, to promote sleep or alleviate stress and anxiety.

The following are sedating antihistamines:

  • diphenhydramine, the active component in Benadryl
  • doxylamine, the active component in Unisom
  • cyclizine, the active component in Marezine

Second-generation antihistamines are less likely to trigger sleepiness. Individuals use them to treat long-lasting allergy symptoms, and they are ineffective as sleeping aid.

The following are nonsedating antihistamines:

  • cetirizine, the active ingredient in Zyrtec
  • loratadine, the active ingredient in Claritin
  • fexofenadine, the active component in Allegra

A doctor may recommend a sedating antihistamine, but just as a short-term solution. Though they are not addicting, the body gets utilized to them quickly, so they become less effective over time.


Melatonin is a other type of over-the-counter spleeping pill you should know. It sells in US under following brand names: Melatonin Time Release, Health Aid Melatonin, SGard, Bio-Melatonin.

When it gets dark outside, the brain produces a hormone called melatonin. This regulates the sleep-wake cycle by informing the body that it is almost time for bed.

The brain makes less melatonin when it is light out and more when it is dark, such as during the winter season. Age also contributes — the older a person gets, the less melatonin they produce.

Many sleeping help consist of melatonin. They tend to be most reliable for individuals with body clock sleep conditions, which are issues with the timing of sleeping or awakening.

Melatonin can be particularly useful for people:

  • experiencing jet lag
  • having trouble falling asleep in the evening
  • handling shift work

Over the last few years, makers have marketed snacks and beverages that contain melatonin as “relaxation” items. Medical professionals do not understand, nevertheless, if they are effective.

Melatonin supplements are offered without a prescription from drug shops, grocery stores, and online shops. The pills tend to come in dosages of 1– 5 milligrams (mg), and a person should take them at bedtime.

Limited evidence recommends that melatonin can treat sleeping disorders. However, though some findings have been combined, a lot of research shows that it can minimize the quantity of time it takes to fall asleep, including a 2017 meta-analysis released in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews.

Valerian Supplements

Although some conflicting research exists, the majority of research studies show that taking valerian can minimize the amount of time it requires to fall asleep by about 15 to 20 minutes. Valerian also seems to improve sleep quality. Doses of 400-900 mg of valerian extract taken up to 2 hours prior to bed appear to work best. Continuous usage for several days, even up to four weeks, might be needed prior to an impact is obvious.

Some research studies show that valerian can help enhance sleep when integrated with other herbs, consisting of hops and lemon balm. Taking valerian might also enhance the sleep quality of people who are withdrawing from making use of sleeping pills. However, some research study recommends that valerian does not eliminate sleeping disorders as quick as “sleeping tablets.”

Side Effects

Over the counter sleeping tablets are commonly readily available. Typical choices and the prospective side effects consist of:

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Aleve PM, others). Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine. Side effects may include daytime drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation and urinary retention.
  • Doxylamine succinate (Unisom SleepTabs). Doxylamine is likewise a sedating antihistamine. Side effects are similar to those of diphenhydramine.
  • Melatonin. The hormone melatonin helps manage your natural sleep-wake cycle. Some research recommends that melatonin supplements might be practical in dealing with jet lag or decreasing the time it takes to go to sleep– although the effect is typically moderate. Side effects can include headaches and daytime sleepiness.
  • Valerian. Supplements made from this plant are in some cases taken as sleep help. Although a couple of research studies suggest some therapeutic benefit, other studies have not found the exact same advantages. Valerian generally does not appear to trigger side effects.

Store brands consisting of the same active ingredients as brand-name sleep aids are frequently offered, too. Store brand names have the exact same threats and benefits as their brand-name counterparts, typically at a more reasonable expense.


Over-the-counter sleeping pills can be used in rare cases, when you have a problem with sleep for several days due to natural causes (workload at work, stress, change of situation, etc.) However, if your insomnia is chronic, then you need to visit a doctor to choose the right treatment and restore normal sleep in the long term.

References: mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/ad…, medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323…, webmd.com/vitamins/…

/// About Reyus Mammadli (article's author)

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What type of over-the-counter sleeping pills are good for you? Leave in a comments, please.