Are Natural Sleep Aids Safer Than Prescription Sleep Aids
Natural sleep aids like the nine discussed in this article are generally considered safer than prescription sleep aids because they have fewer side effects. Still, its important to choose a quality product from a reputable brand. Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate herbal supplements in the same way as they do drugs.
Additionally, note that even natural sleep aids are intended to be a short-term solution. If youre regularly experiencing trouble sleeping, its best to talk with your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.
Best Over The Counter Sleep Aids
Many people have trouble sleeping at night, which means they feel groggy and not themselves the next day. A lack of sleep can also lead to a wide range of serious health conditions, including heart attack and stroke, diabetes and obesity.
If youve followed the usual tips for getting enough sleep, including sleeping on a regular schedule, exercising consistently and reducing stress, but sleep is still elusive, it may be time to try over-the-counter sleep aids. Weve compiled a list of the best sleep aids to help you finally get the sleep you need.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Please consult a healthcare practitioner for any sleep-related issues. This post also contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase a product, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you, the reader.
Best For Anxiety: Gravity Weighted Blanket
People with depression or anxiety who have trouble sleeping may find comfort in weighted blankets, and the Gravity Blanket is by far one of the most popular options, with more than 1,300 perfect reviews. Available in 3 sizes, it’s designed to be about 10% of your body weight and has a removable duvet that can be machine-washed. Better yet, it actually works one reviewer said they “finally wake up well-rested” thanks to this soothing blanket.
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Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set
- Price: $$
Reviewers say these sheets are soft and feel cool and silky. Some say theyre great for the summer.
Self-reported hot sleepers say these sheets help them stay asleep at night without overheating.
The Best Sleep Aids For 2021
What is the most effective natural sleep aid? To help you decide which sleep-promoting supplement should work for you, here is a list of the top 8 best sleep aids of 2021.
If youre looking for a solid nights sleep with peaceful dreams, Sleep Support Plus could be the right product for you. This supplement for occasional sleeplessness is a mixture of herbal ingredients that lead to calmness, relief of stress, relaxation, and peaceful sleep. Some of these extracts also may lead to an increase in a positive mood, such as 5-HTP.
Sleep Support Plus supports an overall healthy cycle, helping you to regulate your hours so you sleep and wake at approximately the same time every day. This is healthier for your overall system and your well-being. In addition, youll be less likely to have a disrupted sleep punctured by waking up in the night.
Sleep Support Plus stands up well next to other best sleep supplements that are in the same class. It has a richer collection of ingredients than most similar products, and the price is very reasonable and affordable.
In addition, there are very few side effects that are associated with using this product, so you dont have to worry about additional symptoms developing. You can just take your supplements at night and drift off into a peaceful sleep.
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Make Sure You’ve Tried Behavioral Solutions
Medication should only be a last case resort after you have tried lifestyle and behavioral solutions to manage your symptoms. Implementing a bedtime routine, going to bed at the same time every night, exercise, reducing caffeine, and managing stress are all examples of changes that may improve sleep.
When Should I Take These Medications
Take your prescribed medication right before you plan to go to bed. Many people feel the effects within an hour of their dose. A hangover effect from any of these medications is possible the next morning. You might feel groggy or drowsy or have a headache. This is especially true if you try to get up too early. Make sure you have 7 to 8 hours to sleep after taking your medication to prevent feeling like this when you wake up.
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How We Chose The Best Products For People With Insomnia
There are so many products on the market that claim to relieve symptoms of insomnia. To ensure that you choose the highest quality products possible, we used the following criteria:
- Scientific research. Numerous studies examine the effects of factors, like light, diet, and meditation, on sleep. We used peer-reviewed research to help inform the types of products that could most support sleep.
- Customer reviews. The customer is always right, which is why customer reviews are one of our best indicators of a products quality. We took a close look at reviews to make sure customers really love each of our picks.
- Company reputation. All the products we reviewed are from reputable companies that have a history of making quality items.
- Price. While prices vary based on the products, we did our best to include products for a variety of budgets.
How Can I Sleep Better Without Sleeping Pills
You may want to:
- Avoid large meals and alcohol before bed.
- Cut back on caffeine, including coffee, sodas and chocolate, throughout the day and especially before bedtime.
- Relax with soothing music, a good book or meditation.
- Shut off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Stay physically active during the day. Try to get outside, if possible.
- Stick to a sleep schedule even on weekends.
- Turn your bedroom into a dark, quiet and cool sanctuary.
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Herbal And Dietary Sleep Supplements That May Help
Go to the drugstore and youll see dozens of so-called natural sleep supplements. The FDA doesnt regulate dietary supplements for safety, quality, effectiveness, or even truth in labeling, so its up to you to do your due diligence. Although the evidence is mixed, the following supplements have the most research backing them up as insomnia treatments:
Valerian. Valerian is a sedating herb that has been used since the second century A.D. to treat insomnia and anxiety. It is believed to work by increasing brain levels of the calming chemical GABA. Although the use of valerian for insomnia hasnt been extensively studied, the research shows promise and it is generally considered to be safe and non-habit forming. It works best when taken daily for two or more weeks.
Melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that increases at night. It is triggered by darkness and its levels remain elevated throughout the night until suppressed by the light of morning. Although melatonin does not appear to be particularly effective for treating most sleep disorders, it can help sleep problems caused by jet lag and shift work. Simple exposure to light at the right time, however, might be just as effective. If you take melatonin, be aware that it can interfere with certain blood pressure and diabetes medications. Its best to stick with low dosesone to three milligrams for most peopleto minimize side effects and next-day drowsiness.
Natural doesnt mean safe
Common Side Effects Of Prescription Sleep Medications
Most of the sleep medications have different side effects. As such, it is advisable to have prior knowledge of the potential side effects of the medication you have about to take. However, these side effects vary based on the prescription and the type of the sleeping pills. The common ones include:
- Light headedness or dizziness that leads to falls
- Performance and memory problems
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Who Should Buy A Sleep Aid
Many people dont get enough sleep, but for some of them, its not just a matter of choice: sleep problems like insomnia, restless tossing and turning, or early awakening trouble a lot of people. Sleep aids can help with these problems.
A sleep aid uses supplemental or herbal compounds to help induce the onset of sleep and ensure that you stay asleep once you fall asleep. Sleep aids are most popular among people who have chronic sleep disturbances, particularly insomnia.
The incidence of these problems increases as you get older, so sleep aids are particularly popular among older adults. Insomnia is a common feature of menopause, which is another reason why sleep aids are popular among older adults.
Sleep aids are the topic of a lot of research into inexpensive treatments for insomnia, and also as a way to increase overall sleep quality.
Sleep aids have also proven very useful for short-term disturbances to sleep, like jet lag or changes in shift work. Since these abrupt changes in your schedule throw your bodys circadian rhythm off of its natural cycle, sleep aids that incorporate compounds modulating your circadian rhythm, like melatonin, are great for adjusting your bodys internal clock back to a new equilibrium.
Thanks to their short-term uses, sleep aids are popular among travellers and shift workers, even if they dont have sleep problems as a part of their usual routines when they arent traveling or taking on atypical work hours.
Get On A Routine Schedule
Every human body has a built-in internal clock known as the circadian rhythm. This clock regulates our sleep patterns and controls the release of certain hormones that affect things like hunger, temperature, and emotions. Many things can disrupt these patterns, including going to bed at different times every day.
One of the easiest ways to reset this internal clock is to get on a routine schedule of going to bed and waking at approximately the same time each day.
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Watch Out For Side Effects
As with all prescriptions, your personal medical histories can help your doctor determine which ones would be safest for you.
Benzodiazepines are used to help with short-term insomnia, as there is a high risk of abuse and dependence with long-term use. Others such as “Z” drugs can cause daytime sleepiness and parasomnias.
And many of these also carry the risk of rebound insomnia, sleep disturbances that get worse when going off medications.
These treatments improve sleep quality and help people fall asleep faster. But if you have tried several and they don’t seem to be working, Dr. Rojanapairat suggests consulting a sleep physician to see if you might have an underlying sleep problem such as sleep apnea.
Other Foods And Beverages
You may have heard that a glass of warm milk or a turkey sandwich could help you sleep. Unfortunately, many of these remedies haven’t been proven to work.
Some foods, like warm milk, can be comforting. This may put you in the right mindset for sleep. A few studies have shown that milk or a mixture of milk and honey can help people sleep.
There is some evidence that tryptophan supplements can improve sleep. However, the tryptophan you get from what you eat probably doesn’t work as a sleep aid.
Tart cherries are an example of a food that contains melatonin. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough melatonin in food to help you sleep. You would have to eat a lot of these foods to see any effect.
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They Can Be Habit Forming
For many people, benzodiazepines and Z-drugs can be habit forming. This means that if you take them on a nightly basis, your body can become dependent on them to sleep. It can be very difficult to stop taking them if youve been on them for a while. You can have withdrawal symptoms like vomiting and sweating when you try to go without them. You can help prevent yourself from becoming physically dependent on these medications by taking them only when needed or only for a few weeks at a time.
Because they are habit forming, these medications are considered controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Agency . Controlled substances are medications that have special restrictions on how they are prescribed. For example, you normally have to see a provider in-person before receiving a prescription for a controlled substance. But since these restrictions have been temporarily relaxed during COVID, its now possible to get a prescription for a controlled substance online.
Buying Guide How To Shop For Over
Theres a lot to understand when it comes to OTC sleep aids. And like any product you put into your body, you want to know how to safely use them. In our buying guide, well outline everything you need to know about OTC sleep aids, including how they work, different types, safety information and other techniques for improving sleep.
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How Effective Are Sleeping Pills
Studies show that sleeping pills arent that helpful in promoting a good nights rest. Most people who take sleep aids fall asleep about eight to 20 minutes faster than those without medicine. On average, you might get an additional 35 minutes of shuteye.
Generally, sleep aids should be for short-term use. They may be most helpful if a stressful life event, such as a divorce or death in the family, is keeping you awake.
What Are Ways To Fall Asleep Naturally
A range of practices can help encourage sleep naturally, including:
- Regular exercise: People can engage in physical activity several hours before bedtime to encourage sleep.
- Avoiding stimulants: Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol for several hours before bedtime.
- Sleep schedule: Maintain the same sleep schedule where possible, even on days off, going to sleep and waking up at the same time.
- Sleep environment: Keep the bedroom dark, quiet, and slightly cool to encourage comfortable sleep.
- Avoid screens: People should stop using screens, such as smartphones, TVs, and personal devices, at least 1 hour before bed.
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Only Take The Recommended Dosage
It can be tempting to increase the dose if you are not noticing improvement or are looking for a quick fix. If you have been using an over the counter sleep aid for an extended period of time and the pill is no longer working for you, do not attempt to go beyond the recommended dose. Using a larger dose than what is listed could be dangerous and result in serious harm.
Are Sleeping Pills Or Sleep Aids Right For You
Its the middle of the night, and youre staring at the ceiling, thinking about work, or bills, or the kids. When sleep just wont come, its tempting to turn to a sleeping pill or sleep aid for relief. And you may get it in the moment. But if you regularly have trouble sleeping, thats a red flag that somethings wrong. It could be something as simple as too much caffeine or viewing TV, your phone, or other screens late at night. Or it may be a symptom of an underlying medical or psychological problem. But whatever it is, it wont be cured with sleeping pills. At best, sleeping pills are a temporary band aid. At worst, theyre an addictive crutch that can make insomnia worse in the long run.
That doesnt mean that you should never use medication, but its important to weigh the benefits against the risks. In general, sleeping pills and sleep aids are most effective when used sparingly for short-term situations, such as traveling across time zones or recovering from a medical procedure. If you choose to take sleeping pills over the long term, it is best to use them only on an infrequent, as needed basis to avoid dependence and tolerance.
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Choosing The Right Insomnia Drug
When selecting a medication for insomnia, one of the most important factors to consider is the half-life of the drugthe time it takes for its concentration to drop 50%.
So says Dr. Matthew Kayser, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. In an article he co-authored on precision medicine for insomnia for the journal Sleep Medicine Clinics, Kayser discussed medication options for insomnia and offered guidance on drug selection to enhance personalized care. Two VA researchers also co-authored the article .
The half-life of a sleep medication can range from 1.5 hours for a hypnotic, such as Zaleplon, to 24 hours for some benzodiazepines, a class of psychoactive drugs. However, a longer half-life can come with risks, Kayser notes.
The primary disadvantage of a longer half-life is the potential for next-day sedation, he writes. Patients may be able to sleep well at night but have difficulty waking up in the morning and may not feel fully awake for several hours. Some go as far as to state that the cure is worse than the problem. The potential for over-sedation can be a safety concern, because patients who drive or operate machinery in the morning may be impaired.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned that certain prescription drugs can lead to sleepwalking, sleep driving, and engaging in other activities while not fully awake.