Struggling to achieve a good night’s rest is common, as one in four Americans report some sort of sleep issue in a recent study. However, restless sleep does not have to be a regular problem with the right medicine or sleep aid to help you drift off. Nowadays, there are several medical approaches to aiding sleep, both over the counter and prescription based. Due to the true importance of sleep, many Americans will try numerous methods before finding the fitting option. Although prescription sleeping pills may be stronger in effect, many hypnotic sedatives have high risks of being habit forming as well as not serving as a long term answer. For those not necessarily suited for prescription benzodiazepine and nonbenzodiazepine drugs, there are quite a few solutions for over the counter sleeping aids. Here are six of the best over the counter sleep medications and how they could possibly help you get a better night’s rest.
One of the most commonly used medications sold over the counter as a sleep aid, doxylamine is an antihistamine sedative that helps a patient initially fall asleep through a slowing effect on the brain and nervous system. Once digested, the half-life, or break down of the medication in the body is slower than other medications that allows a patient to stay asleep. However, many reviewers list the side effect of grogginess or drowsiness that affect them the following day. A positive for doxylamine is that the antihistamine drug is not habit forming and the patient does not experience a restless relapse or rebound insomnia after stopping use of doxylamine as seen in prescription sleep aids.
Diphenhydramine is by far the most popular over the counter antihistamine, as it is the main ingredient in the allergy medication Benadryl. When it comes to strength of over the counter sedatives, diphenhydramine has the most desired effect of staying asleep to achieve a high amount of rest. Take diphenhydramine earlier in the evening with plenty of time to wake up in the morning. Half-life times in many diphenhydramine drugs can last well into the next day, leaving the patient with a potential hang-over like feeling. However, diphenhydramine is an excellent option for those needing short to medium term assistance with their sleep.
The top natural choice for sleep aid is melatonin, which is a human hormone that you produce at night to assist your sleep cycle. Small amounts of melatonin can allow you to naturally create more of the sleep hormone with little side effects and conclusive results. However, melatonin can sometimes have drug interactions that are cause for concern such as with diabetes or high blood pressure medication. If you are taking any medications other than over the counter sleeping aids, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any dosage of melatonin. Start with a low dosage according to your body weight and give yourself plenty of recovery time between doses.
Valerian herb is another top natural choice and has been throughout history. Discovered long ago for its relaxing and sleep-inductive benefits, valerian is a long term supplement that can slowly help you gain the rest you have been looking for. The drug works by inhibiting the human neurotransmitter GABA in the brain to further relax the body and mind for a full sleep cycle. Although extensive sleep research studies are still in the process for valerian herb, it seems to be a common staple for natural sleep aids with little to no side effects.
This special herb is usually found in teas that are known to help with sleep issues as well as someone in need of rest. The sedative strength in chamomile is low, which is also an attractive feature for those who are affected by drowsiness from alternative sleep aids. Start with two loose leaf chamomile tea bags in an evening cup of tea, and three bags for larger individuals.
Tryptophan is one of the most basic and simple supplements for natural help with sleep. The amino acid can be commonly found in a healthy diet, but can also be taken over the counter to assist in the human production of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin is highly important in the messaging process from brain to body, especially for sleep.