"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Are drugstore sleep aids protected?

Observe these warnings if you happen to use over-the-counter medications or dietary supplements to allow you to sleep.

Photo: © Spauln/Getty Images

But which option must you reach for? Drugstore shelves are lined with a blinding array of products that promise night's sleep. They are available two categories: over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements.

Non-prescription drugs

Sleep medications which are available over-the-counter use antihistamines as their foremost lively ingredient. Nytol, Sominex, and Unisom (blue capsule form), for instance, contain 25 to 50 milligrams (mg) of the antihistamine diphenhydramine per tablet.

Other over-the-counter sleep medications, corresponding to Unisom Sleep Tabs, contain 25 mg per tablet of an antihistamine called doxylamine succinate.

These drugs work by blocking certain brain chemicals, which might have a sedative effect. They are generally protected but include some risks. “You tend to wear out the effects relatively quickly, so they stop working for you,” Dr. Epstein says. What happens after we use up,” says Dr. Epstein. . “And there may be a possibility that antihistamines could cause negative effects in older adults, corresponding to confusion and falls.”

Another risk: Some long-term sleep aids contain other medications. For example, Tylenol PM accommodates not only 25 mg of diphenhydramine but additionally 500 mg of acetaminophen, a pain reliever. If you're only specializing in the sleep advantages of the drug, you won't pay attention to it.

Nutritional complement

Many varieties of supplements claim to allow you to sleep. For example:

valerian root The root of this tall flowering plant is claimed to assist people sleep and relieve anxiety and stress. It has been used as a medicinal herb for the reason that days of ancient Rome.

Chamomile. The use of this daisy-like flower also dates back 1000's of years. It is taken in pills in addition to in tea (many individuals drink a cup of chamomile tea at bedtime). It is taken into account mild and protected to allow you to go to sleep. But some people have an allergic response to chamomile (especially those that are allergic to ragweed).

Melatonin. This complement comes from a laboratory, not a plant. It's an artificial version of a human hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. But Dr. Epstein says it's not a sleeping pill. “It makes people a little sleepy, but it has a huge effect in changing the timing of the sleep phase,” he explains.

Dr. Epstein recommends taking one to 3 milligrams of melatonin two to 3 hours before bed if you happen to're attempting to fine-tune your sleep cycle resulting from jet lag or an evening shift job. It says you may safely take melatonin long-term.

A word about prescription sleep aids

Prescription sleep medications are powerful drugs that work on different parts of the brain.

Benzodiazepines corresponding to lorazepam (Ativan) and temazepam (Restoril) goal gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that reduces nerve activity and promotes sleep. These medications might be habit-forming, cause daytime sleepiness, and should be linked to dementia.

Nonbenzodiazepines — corresponding to zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta) — also act on GABA, but they leave the body more quickly and have fewer negative effects, making it easier to get up often the subsequent day and performance in the course of the day. allow However, they still increase the danger of sleepwalking and daytime sleepiness, which might result in falls and injury.

Melatonin receptor agonists corresponding to ramelaton (Roserum) goal melatonin receptors within the brain. They leave the body quickly and usually are not considered habit forming.

A word of caution

Although supplements are widely taken to assist people sleep, we don't really know in the event that they work.

“There is essentially no data on any herbal supplements that demonstrate effectiveness, except for a modest beneficial effect of valerian root,” says Dr. Epstein.

Many supplements can have minor negative effects, corresponding to headache, dizziness, or nausea. Or they might increase the effect of alcohol or other drugs you're taking, corresponding to other sleep medications.

Perhaps the most important concern is that the FDA doesn't regulate supplements, so there's no solution to know if a pill accommodates what its manufacturer claims.

What must you do?

If you would like to take an over-the-counter sleep medication or dietary complement, seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist to be certain that it won't interact with any medications you're taking.

If you're having greater than the occasional sleepless night, it could be time to search out out what's causing the issue.

“Most sleep problems can be corrected without medication,” says Dr. Epstein. “But it can take many approaches. Sleep problems are often caused by many things, not just one thing that can be fixed with a pill.”