Having trouble sleeping? Many Americans suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives. About one in four Americans report taking some type of medication every year to help them sleep.
Over-the-counter sleep aids could provide temporary relief, but you should first look at our article on 7 Ways To Improve Your Sleep. Still, it’s the middle of the night, and you’re staring at the bedroom ceiling, thinking about work, or bills, or the kids? You may decide to try over-the-counter sleeping pills or consult your doctor about prescription sleep medications.
But before you do, you should be aware of the different types of over-the-counter and prescription sleeping medications, potential side effects, safety concerns, and alternatives.
Wender and Roberts Pharmacy carries a number of over-the-counter sleep aids. Here’s a listing of popular choices and the possible side effects:
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Unisom sleep). Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine. Side effects might include Drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, stomach upset, blurred vision, or dry mouth/nose/throat.
- Doxylamine (Unisom SleepTabs). Doxylamine is also a sedating antihistamine. Side effects are similar to diphenhydramine.
- Melatonin. A hormone found naturally in the body. People use melatonin to adjust the body’s internal clock. It is used for jet lag, for adjusting sleep-wake cycles in people whose daily work schedule changes (shift-work disorder), and for helping blind people establish a day and night cycle. The most common melatonin side effects include daytime sleepiness, dizziness and headaches. Other, less common melatonin side effects might include abdominal discomfort, mild anxiety, irritability, confusion and short-lasting feelings of depression.
- Valerian. A herb; supplements are made from the root. There is some scientific evidence that valerian works for sleep disorders, although not all studies are positive. However, the active ingredient isn’t clear and potency can vary. Side effects of valerian supplements might include headache, abdominal discomfort, excitability or uneasiness, and heart disturbances.
Store brands containing the same active ingredients as brand-name sleep aids are commonly available. Store brands have the same risks and benefits as their brand-name counterparts, often at a more reasonable cost. Health Mart is Wender and Roberts Pharmacy’s store brand. For more information on how you can save by buying Health Mart brand, click here.
If you’re having a sleep problem that lasts a few days, talk to your doctor about your concerns. You may have an underlying health problem, like a sleep disorder or depression. Depending on the cause of your sleeping problem, he or she may prescribe a sleep medication, which is the most common treatment for insomnia.
Taking prescription sleep medication is only recommended under the close supervision of your doctor. You should discuss all the risks and potential side effects and ask your doctor to review the dosage instructions with you. And remember, you should never take medication prescribed for someone else, even once.
*This information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician before taking any sleep medications, discontinuing their use, or changing the prescribed dosage.