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

Are drugstore sleep aids secure?

Observe these warnings when you use over-the-counter medications or dietary supplements to enable you to sleep.

Photo: © Spauln/Getty Images

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

Non-prescription drugs

Sleep medications which might be available over-the-counter use antihistamines as their major energetic 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, resembling 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 secure but include some risks. “You tend to wear out the effects relatively quickly, so they stop working for you,” Dr. Epstein says. What happens once we use up,” says Dr. Epstein. . “And there may be a possibility that antihistamines may cause unwanted side effects in older adults, resembling confusion and falls.”

Another risk: Some long-term sleep aids contain other medications. For example, Tylenol PM comprises 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 kinds of supplements claim to enable 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 secure to enable 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 a few milligrams of melatonin two to a few hours before bed when you're attempting to fine-tune your sleep cycle on account of 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 resembling lorazepam (Ativan) and temazepam (Restoril) goal gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that reduces nerve activity and promotes sleep. These medications will be habit-forming, cause daytime sleepiness, and will be linked to dementia.

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

Melatonin receptor agonists resembling ramelaton (Roserum) goal melatonin receptors within the brain. They leave the body quickly and should 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 unwanted side effects, resembling headache, dizziness, or nausea. Or they might increase the effect of alcohol or other drugs you take, resembling other sleep medications.

Perhaps the largest concern is that the FDA doesn't regulate supplements, so there's no technique to know if a pill comprises what its manufacturer claims.

What do you have to do?

If you desire to take an over-the-counter sleep medication or dietary complement, confer with your doctor or pharmacist to make certain 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 seek 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.”