What sleep aid product is right for me?
Over the counter sleep aids come in tablets (regular, orally disintegrating and effervescent), capsules, liquids and powders. The orally disintegrating tablets are convenient if you travel and you don’t have water handy. They don’t require water, since they can be dissolved in the mouth or chewed. (35)
If OTC sleep aids do not work for you, discuss other treatment options with your healthcare provider. These may include prescription medications for sleep and/or mental health therapy. (38)
What are some common ingredients in sleep aids?
Most OTC sleep aids contain either diphenhydramine or doxylamine. These are both antihistamines that help people fall asleep by making them feel drowsy. (36)
If you take a sleep aid that is combined with a pain reliever such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, read the label carefully. Make sure you don’t take too much of the sleep aid or the pain reliever. (37)
Remember that sleep aids are for temporary use only. If your sleep problem does not get better in a few days, talk to your healthcare provider.
Some cautions regarding sleep aids:
- Try to use the lowest dose possible to help you sleep.
- Don’t drink alcohol with your sleep aid. Taking alcohol with antihistamines can increase drowsiness and dizziness. (38)
- Be careful walking around at night if you have taken a sleep aid, as it may put you at risk for falls.
Are OTC sleep aids addictive?
No. OTC sleep aids, such as diphenhydramine and doxylamine are not habit forming. However, they do cause drowsiness, so use caution if you are driving a car or operating heavy machinery if you still feel sleepy when you get up in the morning. (39)
Speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking a sleep aid.