If you have difficulty sleeping, an over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid might help temporarily — but proper lifestyle changes are usually the best permanent approach for chronic insomnia.
Sleep is one of the essential elements of a healthy, productive lifestyle, yet many people fail to attend to their body's need for sleep on a daily basis.
Inadequate sleep also referred to as sleep deprivation, is a global concern, causing a range of complications – both in the workplace and in the affected individual’s daily capabilities.
Accidents to poor health and performance in school, insufficient sleep can have a significant impact on the life of a person, yet providing adequate rest for the body is a task that can be accomplished with some initial steps.
The American Sleep Association estimates that around 70 million Americans have at least one sleep disorder. Short-term insomnia seems to affect around 30% of adults in the country at any given point in time, while up to 10% of the population is affected by chronic insomnia.
Approximately 1,550 fatalities each year in the United States are pointed toward drowsy driving, caused by insufficient sleep.
While these are instantaneous complications of sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality, many of the serious implications that this problem can have tends to develop over time – causing the development of chronic illness and a shorter lifespan
Top Best OTC Sleeping Pills
Here, we will introduce you to the best sleeping aids that are currently available to help you fall asleep quickly when you get into bed, and to ensure you stay asleep and do not wake up frequently.
These best sleep aids will also help to improve your overall sleep quality, which is another important factor for obtaining adequate benefits from sleep.
Even though there are still some possible adverse effects that you should be concerned with when it comes to using the best over-the-counter sleep aids, as well as sleep duration, the side-effects of prescription sleep drugs are usually more concerning.
To provide you with the best options you can buy, we have tested a variety of sleep aids based on the following criteria.
- Quality of the ingredients found in each of these supplements.
- Reputation of the particular brand behind the product
- Effectiveness and safety
- Lastly non-habit-forming supplements.
Best Sleep Aid for Adults
Adults rely on sleep to ensure they can be productive at work the next day and look more presentable, as well as to ensure they are able to drive around without being a hazard to themselves, pedestrians and other road users.
Let’s take a look at some of the best sleep aids for adults on the market at the moment.
#1. Luna (#1 Natural Sleep Aid)
- Non-habit forming vegan capsules
- Herbal sleep supplement made with natural extracts
- Made in the USA
- Better sleep or money back guarantee
- Our editor’s choice
LUNA’s Natural Sleep Aid is the best natural sleeping aid on the market that provides a calming effect on the user. The product is filled with a number of useful ingredients that hold scientific evidence to support the claims about their efficiency in producing improvements in sleep latency, sleep duration, and sleep quality.
LUNA's Natural Sleep Aid is entirely natural and contains absolutely no artificial chemicals and is also a much safer alternative compared to other sleeping aids.
This sleep supplement has not been associated with any type of adverse effects on the user and has received over a thousand positive reviews on Amazon.
#2. DRIFTOFF Premium
- Non-habit forming vegetarian and non-GMO
- Natural sleep aid made with natural herbal extracts
- Made in the USA
- Recommended for anxiety, ease restlessness, and better sleep
- 60-day money back guarantee
- Expertly formulated
DRIFTOFF Premium Sleep Aid is another excellent option when choosing to rely on a natural product to help you sleep better at night.
This product has been designed to help users fall asleep fast, experience satisfying rest throughout the night, and wake up refreshed ready for the new day without the habit forming effects most sleeping pills.
All of the ingredients that are found in DRIFTOFF Premium Sleep Aid has been selected based on very specific criteria, such as their safety profile and their effectiveness in helping a person combat insomnia and sleep better.
- Non-habit forming 100% vegetarian tablets
- Natural sleep aid
- Made in the USA
- Helps to establish normal sleep patterns
- Unique fast dissolve strawberry formula
Natrol’s Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets relies on the potency of Melatonin to help you sleep better at night.
The purpose of this supplement is to help regulate better sleep-wake cycles amongst users; thus ensuring they get tired at night and feel awake and refreshed in the day. The product is easy to use and comes with a delicious flavor, making it more ideal since the tablet is dissolved in water prior to administration.
Since this product primarily relies on one single ingredient, the user is less likely to experience adverse reactions or allergic reactions to the included ingredients; thus providing a safer way to help them fall asleep.
#4. Natural Factors
- Natural ingredients work in harmony with the body's sleep hormones
- Advanced, fast-acting sleep formula
- Made in the USA
- Promote relaxation and restful sleep
- Recommended by Dr. Michael Murray
Another convenient option that allows you to take the tablet without any water; thus reducing the risk that you might need to get up in the middle of the night to urinate.
The Natural Factors – Stress-Relax Tranquil Sleep aid aims to assist in reducing stress in the user's mind and body; thus producing a calmer overall state. This helps the user fall asleep quickly as they will not have racing thoughts. The product has also been formulated to help reduce the stress that the user may be experiencing.
Apart from its effectiveness in assisting the user in sleep better, this supplement will also help to reduce drowsiness and sleepiness the following morning
#5. Genius Sleep Aid
- Non-habit forming and non-sedative sleep aid
- Provides adrenal support with the caffeine eliminating ingredient
- Clinically studied to provide mood support
- Made in the USA
- Backed by the Genius Promise money back guarantee
The last entry in our list of best sleep aids for adults is the Genius Sleep Aid, a product from The Genius Brand. This product aids in relieving factors such as stress and anxiety symptoms. These are two particular problems that are keeping millions of people awake, tossing-and-turning at night.
The Genius Sleep Aid also provides a completely natural option for treating insomnia, with no added pharmaceutical drugs like those found in some over-the-counter sleep drugs.
The solution includes a wide variety of highly-effective ingredients that ensure the user can relax and wind down, ultimately leading them to fall asleep quickly after they get into bed.
Note: If you're under 18 years or if you have any pre-existing medical condition or if you are taking any prescription drugs, make sure that you check with a your doctor before using this product.
Best Sleeping Aids for Kids
Children also need to sleep well, but the sleep aids we covered above are not appropriate for their smaller bodies. Let’s take a look at some of the best sleep aids for kids that you can buy to help kids with insomnia to relax and sleep smoothly
#1. LUNA Kids
- Gentle and non-habit forming
- Tasty and sugar-free tablets
- Formulated to promote a healthy sleep cycle
- Made in the USA
- Enhanced with a boost of vitamin D
- Support healthy growth and development
- Natural sleep aid tablets
Top on our list of the best sleep aids for kids is LUNA Kids natural sleep aid by Nested Naturals.
This product takes the fact that children need a gentler solution to help them sleep into account, by providing kids with a low-dosage solution that only consists of natural ingredients to help reduce their sleep latency and also to help the kids sleep more peaceful during the night.
It's affordable, and it has been highly-rated on all platforms where it is sold. This gentle sleep aid for kids will put your child’s mind at ease, reduce their racing thoughts, and help them feel more comfortable at night when they have to get into bed.
LUNA Kids' ingredients are safe and have been deemed safe for children when provided at the recommended dosage levels
#2. Zarbee’s Naturals Sleep Aid
- Non-habit forming sleep aid
- Grape-flavored chewable tablets with natural fruit extracts
- Promote peaceful, restful sleep in children
- Made in the USA
- Safe and effective drug-free sleep supplement
- Free from dyes,or artificial flavors
A perfect option for getting the little ones to sleep at night without causing them to be exposed to possible hazards of pharmaceutical sleep drugs.
Zarbee’s Naturals Sleep Aid primarily relies on the fact that Melatonin assist with improving the child’s sleep-wake cycles; thus helping them fall asleep quickly when nighttime arrives and wake-up faster and more refreshed when the sun comes up. These features are important for school-going children as they need to be alert the next day to ensure they can perform well at school.
The product does not directly induce sleep, but rather simply helps to calm the child’s mind.
#3. Premium Chewable Melatonin 1MG
- Non-habit forming and non-sedative sleep aid
- Free of any animal products and artificial flavors and colorings
- Naturally activates and promotes good night's rest
- Made in the USA
- Manufactured in a GMP certified and FDA registered facility
Premium Chewable Melatonin 1MG is a potent formula that provides adequate support to help kids sleep at night, without causing an overdose of the active ingredients. There are also no pharmaceutical chemicals or drugs in this product’s formula, ensuring the safety of your child.
This natural sleep aid comes in a chewable tablet form and has been flavored to ensure your kids will love it.
The majority of the users find this product highly effective in helping to put the kids to bed at night. They also claim that this sleep aid does not cause their children to feel irritable or tired the next morning
#4. OZzzz’s Sleep Aid for Children
- Non-GMO, non-habit forming sleep aid
- Fast-melting, safe and effective
- Pediatrician recommended
- No artificial sweeteners, or colors
OZzzz’s Sleep Aid for children is a gentle and effective solution for parents to get their kids to go to bed and fall asleep better when it is time for them to sleep.
The formula has been designed to help reduce the racing thoughts that many children find themselves with when they have to go to bed, and rather produce a calmer mindset.
This sleep aid for kids is affordable and has been recommended by a number of pediatricians; thus providing solid proof that this is an option you want to consider when you are looking for a natural choice to treat your child's insomnia.
#5. Hyland’s 4 Kids
- Safe and non-habit forming
- Easy to take quick-dissolving tablets
- Safe, soothing and natural
- Clinically studied to provide mood support
- Made in the USA
- Gentle and effective relief of sleeplessness and irritability
Finally, you should also give Hyland’s 4 Kids Natural Calm’n Restful Tablets a try if you are looking for an herbal product to give to your child when they refuse to sleep at night.
This product is perfect for any child between the ages of two and 12 and does not contain any type of harmful ingredients that may lead to the development of adverse effects on the child.
The purpose of this supplement is to calm the mind of your child and reduce feelings of anxiety and irritability. This results in a child that sleeps faster and more peacefully.
More Sleep Aids for Adults
Below we discuss more sleep aids for adults arranged in no particular order. These are worth choices that we feel are worth the price and are effective also.
First on our list is the Lunexia, a natural sleeping aid that has helped hundreds of happy customers achieve that peaceful night of sleep that they have desired for so long.
After testing over tens of OTC sleeping pills, we can confidently and declare that Lunexia is the best over the counter sleep aid in the market today.
The idea of Lunexia is to educate the customer about the fact that, while they are so focused on ensuring they acquire adequate amounts of exercise and eat a healthy diet, they also need to attend to their sleep requirements.
Lunexia is unlike many of the over-the-counter options on the market that causes people to feel sleepy when they wake up the next morning, this sleep aid supplement rather ensures the user feels energized when they wake up, ready to tackle all that life will throw them in the new day.
The ingredient list of Lunexia is quite impressive. The entire formula consists of only natural extracts and nutrients, providing a safe and effective way to calm the body and mind, while also ensuring the user can sleep easy. The ingredients include:
- Vitamin B6
- Valerian Root Extracts
- Goji Berry Extracts
- Chamomile Extracts
- Hops Extracts
- Gaba Extracts
- Passion Fruit Extracts
- Lemon Balm
- Ashwagandha Root Extracts
- St. John’s Wort
Benefits Of Lunexia
Lunexia Sleep Supplement is often considered a one-of-its-kind, with its unique blend of natural plant extracts, herbs, minerals and amino acids. Some of the benefits that users can obtain by opting for this sleep aid include:
- The natural combination of herbal extracts helps to soothe the mind, ensures the body can relax and eliminate stress helping to put the user in the right mood for good sleep.
- The product features a 100% organic formula, with no added synthetic chemicals that may lead to unwanted side-effects.
- The formula has been designed to assist with improving cycles of Deep Sleep in the user.
- Lunexia contains some of the most effective natural compounds that have been proven through numerous scientific studies to promote better sleep, while also yielding impressive safety profiles.
- This supplement is non-addictive, which means users will not become dependent on the product for sleep, and will not experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping to use.
The only possible drawback that some potential customers may have with Lunexia is the price of the product. Lunexia is more expensive than many other best sleep aids on the market, but considering it is a 100% organic product, makes the product the best sleep aid worth the price.
MidNite Sleep Aid
Another excellent option for individuals looking to buy an over-the-counter sleep aid that does not contain any drugs or synthetically-produced chemicals as found in prescription sleep medication and some over-the-counter drugs.
MidNite Drug-Free Sleep Aid provides a natural, safe option for individuals who are experiencing sleep disturbances, and finding it difficult to fall asleep. It's available in three different options:
- MidNite PM (original)
- MidNite and
Each of these products features the same formula, with the PM and Menopause options providing additional support for particular users. This sleep aid primarily relies on the potency of melatonin, a naturally-occurring chemical in the human body that assists with the regulation of sleep-wake cycles, but additional ingredients have been added to make the formula more effective, while also taking the safety profile of the supplement into account.
The formula has been developed with a range of herbal extracts to provide the user with a safe method for improving their sleep. The ingredients of this product’s formula include:
- Lemon Balm Aerial Extracts
- Chamomile Flower Extracts (also used in chamomile tea)
- Lavender Flower Extracts
Inactive ingredients include a quick melt blend, stearic acid, malic acid, silica, magnesium stearate, sucralose, and natural flavoring agents
Benefits of MidNite
- Provides a natural formula to help the user sleep better, without exposing them to the possible adverse reactions that may occur when taking over-the-counter drugs that contain synthetic ingredients.
- The product comes in a chewable tablet form, making it easy to consume and no need for taking a glass of water with the product. The added natural flavoring agents also ensure the tablet has a pleasant taste.
- Not only designed to help the user fall asleep quickly, but also helps them stay asleep for longer – ensuring they can achieve their seven to nine hours of sleep time.
The formula primarily focuses on providing a dose of melatonin to assist with improving the regulation of their sleep-wake cycles. While this ingredient is potent in some patients, it does not seem to work for everyone.
For some individuals, natural sleeping aids may not work effectively to help them achieve an adequate amount of sleep, or to fall asleep fast enough once they get ready for sleep.
This can be unfortunate, but Sominex may be the perfect solution to such a problem. There are some factors about Sominex that individuals should take into account when considering to utilize this product as a sleeping aid, which we will cover here.
Overall, this is an effective option for inducing sleep and for providing relaxation during times of high-stress levels.
There is only one particular active ingredient found in Sominex, which is known as Diphenhydramine. This is not a natural substance, but rather a synthetically-produced chemical.
The main indicated use of Diphenhydramine is to provide a relieve of allergy-related symptoms, as the chemical is classified as an antihistamine. This means the product is effective in providing an alleviation of symptoms like hay fever and allergy.
Additionally, Diphenhydramine is used to prevent and treat motion sickness, and to treat insomnia, which is why it is used as the main active ingredient in Sominex.
Benefits of Sominex
- Antihistamines are often classified as one of the most effective over-the-counter options for providing improvements in sleep insomnia. Since Sominex contains the active ingredient Diphenhydramine, it means this product will be a more effective option for individuals who feel like natural sleep aids do not work well for them.
- Sominex is a very affordable over-the-counter sleep aid. This product is usually much more affordable than most natural supplements currently available on the market.
Numerous side-effects have been associated with the use of Diphenhydramine. Possible side-effects that users might experience include:
- Dizziness and drowsiness
- Blurred vision
- Dry throat and mouth
Tylenol has become one of the most popular over-the-counter options for both pain and sleep. The brand produces a range of pain medication that provides fast and effective relief of headaches and other pain types.
Tylenol PM has been formulated with the same pain relieving benefits of their regular products, but with the addition of an effective pharmaceutical ingredient that provides a sedative effect in the user.
The product is primarily promoted to assist with alleviating pain symptoms that cause a person to experience sleep disturbances, but the addition of a sedative can promote sleepiness in individuals who are struggling with insomnia as well, even when pain is not a particular problem causing them to lie awake at night.
The Tylenol PM formula only consists of two active ingredients, as well as the addition of several inactive ingredients. The active ingredients contained in this product include:
In addition to these active ingredients, Tylenol PM also includes several inactive ingredients, including carnauba wax, magnesium stearate, polyethylene glycol, pregelatinized starch, titanium dioxide, stearic acid, sodium starch glycolate, and polysorbate 80.
Benefits of Tylenol PM
- The primary benefit that Tylenol PM may provide the user with would be the dual-action formula, offering both a relief of pain symptoms and helping the user fall asleep quickly.
- Tylenol PM is a popular sleep aid product in the United States, which means the product is readily available at most major retailers.
- The product is relatively affordable, especially when compared to some of the other common choices.
There are certain risks involved with the use of this product. Not following the dosage instructions closely may put the user at a risk of suffering liver damage.
Some users may also experience an allergic reaction to the ingredients contained in this product’s formula. The product is also not appropriate for individuals suffering from enlarged prostate, glaucoma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
Additionally, the product may interfere with certain types of prescription drugs, such as prescription tranquilizers, and warfarin.
Thi is a product of Chattem, Inc. and is used widely as an OTC sleep aid.
It's relatively a popular brand in various countries, offering a range of different useful products for individuals who are experiencing sleeping difficulties.
The Unisom SleepMelts is one of their sleep aids that are currently out on the market, offering one of the easiest methods of administration amongst competing sleeping aids.
The product is used by a relatively large number of individuals, and is sold in 25mg tablets made from diphenhydramine HCI.
This sleeping aid only takes advantage of a single active ingredient, known as Diphenhydramine HCL. This ingredient is a relatively common option found in many of the modern over-the-counter sleeping aids.
It is important to note that Diphenhydramine HCL has not been specifically produced to provide enhancement in sleep amongst affected individuals, but rather an antihistamine that offers potential sedative properties.
This option is often more effective than some of the other options you can find at the local pharmacy without a prescription, primarily due to the working action of the ingredient, which causes histamine levels in the body to become reduced.
Benefits of Unisom SleepMelts
- Very convenient to take. Place the tablet in your mouth and it will dissolve in less than half a minute. The tablets are also cherry flavored, making them more pleasant to dissolve in the tongue.
- The product is a non-habit-forming sleep aid.
- Another excellent option for people looking to buy an OTC sleep drug to help them sleep better at night.
Due to the chemical nature of the active ingredient of SleepMelts, the product is more likely to cause the user to experience drowsiness and other possible side-effects, such as a slight impairment in their cognitive function, the next day when they wake up.
The drug cannot be used with alcohol, which means no glass of wine before going to bed.
Unisom SleepMelts cannot be used with certain types of prescription medication. Individuals who are taking any type of medication (or suffering from any existing medical conditions) would first need to consult with their doctor before taking this drug.
Back to a natural sleep aid, Melatrol provides individuals with insomnia and other sleep disturbance issues a way to get to sleep without having to put any type of chemical drugs in their body.
This product can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription at most pharmacies, and may also be available at some health stores.
The primary purpose of this product is to help a user achieve improvements in their sleep cycles, instead of simply inducing sleep, as we see with many of the over-the-counter sleep aids that contain synthetic chemicals.
Instead of relying on a variety of artificial chemicals that was developed in a laboratory, this product rather takes advantage of naturally-extracted compounds that have been scientifically proven to help promote sleep amongst its users.
Ingredients contained in the Melatrol include:
- Valerian Root Extracts
- Gamma Amino Butyric Acid
- Rhodiola Rosea Extract
- Passion Flower Extract
Benefits of Melatrol
- Melatrol does not contain any chemicals that may put the user at a risk of developing side-effects or cause the user to continue experience sleepiness or drowsiness the next day.
- The natural compounds found in this product can help a user improve their sleep-wake cycles, thanks to the inclusion of Melatonin, a natural compound that is responsible for the maintenance of healthy sleep-wake cycles.
- Customers who are not sure whether or not they wish to use this product can take advantage of a trial offer promoted by Melatrol. This will enable you to test out Melatrol before you decide if you wish to buy it.
Even though the natural-factor of this product is seen as beneficial, it should be noted that natural ingredients do not work the same for every user. Thus, the product may not be very effective for every individual who decides to give Melatrol a try.
Melatrol is more expensive than some of the other options we have listed in our guide to the best OTC sleep aids.
The product can only be purchased from the official Melatrol website and does not ship to all countries.
This is another product of Chattem, Inc. the company behind SleepMelts that we reviewed above. This product is very similar to the previous non-prescription drug we listed in our top-rated sleep aids, but, instead of having to place a tablet on the tongue, this product is taken with a glass of water.
The primary active ingredient of SleepGels are also a potent antihistamine that is known for its powerful sedative effects; thus helping a person feel sleepy when they go to bed, ensuring they fall asleep faster than without taking the drug, and helping them stay asleep during the entire night.
The product comes in a convenient 32-pack option, ensuring the user only needs to buy a single container each month, should they decide to opt for this over-the-counter sleep aid on a daily basis.
This sleep aid also utilizes the antihistamine ingredient Diphenhydramine HCL, and provides a 50mg dosage per SoftGel.
The antihistamine ingredient causes a reduction in the secretion of histamine within the user’s body, which, in turn, can help them feel sleepy and drowsy.
This puts the user in the mood for a good night’s sleep, instead of causing them to lie awake at night, trying their best to fall asleep so that they can be ready for the many activities that await them the following day.
Benefits of Unisom SleepGels
- Naturally-flavored, though some users prefer taking it the capsule with water.
- The product is affordable, and one package provide an adequate supply of the product that can last a user up to 30 days.
- The SoftGels have been made to be easy-to-swallow, and will not cause a chalky aftertaste to be left behind in the user’s mouth, as some gel capsules are known to create.
This product is more likely to cause the user to experience adverse reactions, interactions with prescription drugs, or problems with pre-diagnosed health ailments, as compared to the natural sleep aids available on the market.
Pregnant women are advised to stay away from this product. This can be unpleasant to a soon-to-be-mother who is struggling to sleep well at night.
Alteril Sleep Aid
Individuals who are seeking out a way to help them fall asleep without having to rely on a pharmaceutical product may also be able to benefit from the use of Alteril Sleep Aid. This is another excellent choice for those who prefer to opt for a natural product to help them sleep.
Alteril Sleep Aid has been developed to offer individuals a natural way to wind down and relax at night, giving them the ability to clear their mind from the past day’s stressful events, and putting them into a better mood to promote falling asleep in a less significant amount of time after they get into bed.
Alteril Sleep Aid contains absolutely zero artificial chemicals, but rather relies solely on a combination of three different ingredients that are extracted from natural sources. These natural ingredients include:
Benefits of Alteril Sleep Aid
- No need to purchase this product on the internet (it is available at Amazon and many other online retailers).
- The formula only relies on three different natural ingredients, making the chances for drug interactions lower, and also reducing the risk of experiencing potential side-effects.
- All three natural extracts contained in the product’s formula have an impressive level of scientific evidence behind them to support their effectiveness in promoting sleep.
Natural products may take longer than pharmaceutical drugs to get to work, which means a user may have to take Alteril Sleep Aid a few hours before going to bed.
Individuals who have tried and tested a variety of natural supplements to help them sleep, but often find that these products do not effectively work for them, may find that Nytol One-A-Night is a good option. This is an otc sleep aid that helps to induce sleep within as little as 20 minutes.
The product has been rated as the most popular over-the-counter option for providing better sleep to individuals in the United Kingdom.
The main ingredient that makes Nytol One-A-Night such an effective option is Diphenhydramine. Each tablet contains a 50mg dose of Diphenhydramine, a type of antihistamine that is found in many other over-the-counter pharmaceutical sleep aids.
The product provides a fast delivery system, making it more effective than some competitors on the market, and ensuring the user can start feeling the effects of the active ingredient within just a few minutes after they have taken the supplement.
Benefits of Nytol
- Contains one of the most effective antihistamines often found in over the counter sleep aids, producing fast and effective sedative effects in the user.
- There is no need to visit a doctor to obtain a prescription if a person wishes to use Nytol One-A-Night. Simply visit a pharmacy near you, and ask for this product.
- Nytol One-A-Night is relatively cheap, especially when compared to other options on the market.
Side-effects are more likely to occur with Nytol One-A-Night than with a natural option on the market.
The active ingredient might make certain people experience a reduction in their overall cognitive abilities the day after they have taken this over-the-counter drug.
The last product on our list of top sleep aids that can be purchased over-the-counter without the need for a doctor’s prescription is the Calming Sleep Support with Melatonin from Zenwise Health.
This is another very popular herbal supplement that people often opt for when they wish to stay away from Diphenhydramine and other types of antihistamines that are often utilized in over-the-counter drugs for insomnia.
It comes in convenient vegetarian capsules, is very easy to take, and will not cause excessive sleepiness the day after.
This product contains quite a large variety of natural extracts, minerals, amino acids, and other ingredients, to provide a better overall sleep-inducing effect for the user. Ingredients of Zenwise Health: Calming Sleep Support with Melatonin includes:
- Chamomile Flower Powder
- Valerian Root Powder
- Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
Benefits of Zenwise
- A large combination of natural ingredients that helps to promote improvements in overall sleep quality – this includes falling sleep and staying asleep, as well as making sleep quality better.
- Only includes ingredients that have scientific evidence to provide support for the claims made about the sleep-inducing effects of the product.
Even though considered more beneficial than some alternative options, due to the natural origin of all ingredients, the product may not work effectively for all users.
Types of Natural Sleep Aids
Many natural substances found in nature that are known to have a calming effect on the user’s body and mind. The majority of the substances help to relax the user’s central nervous system and to help calm their mind down, as well as to help the user get rid of racing thoughts, which is a common problem that causes sleeplessness at nighttime amongst the general population.
Certain natural plant extracts and herbs are known to be more effective than others when it comes to opting for a natural sleeping aid. Below, we take a look at some particularly popular options that you can opt for if you want to sleep better through the use of a natural product.
Chamomile flower extracts are considered to be some of the most potent natural remedies for insomnia and other problems that affect a person’s ability to sleep well at night. The flavonoids and the terpenoids contained within these plant contribute to its wonderful medicinal values, including its ability to assist with inducing better sleep amongst the users. Chamomile is available in different forms, including in tablets, sachets, and herbal teas for sleep. Many studies have proved the effectiveness of chamomile on sleep. One study provided evidence that chamomile may offer both an improvement in the user's ability to fall asleep faster at night and yield positive effects on the user's overall sleep quality.
Tryptophan supplements are also popular and considered an effective option for alleviating the effects of insomnia and, in turn, producing better sleep amongst users. This is an amino acid that is known to help produce a sleepiness effect in the user, while also helping to calm down their entire body.
One study also provided evidence of the significant usefulness that Tryptophan plays in helping individuals overcome insomnia, as well as to provide an impressive reduction in the user’s sleep latency.
Yet another plant extract that has become quite popular in the modern world. Valerian root has been used for centuries to provide improvements in sleep amongst the general population, and also holds other potential medicinal properties that can be beneficial for the user.
It should be noted that, while Valerian extracts may provide relatively fast-acting benefits for providing improvements in sleep, the most significant benefits are only obtained when extracts of the Valerian plant is frequently taken for a while.
4. Passion flower
Passionflower is considered to be one of the most effective options when it comes to opting for a safe substance to assist with the treatment of insomnia. This extract is obtained from a flowering plant, known as the Passion Flower.
Natural sleep aids that contain this substance often tend to work relatively quickly after the product has been consumed and also helps to make sleep more peaceful.
Melatonin is a type of hormone. The body also contains a certain level of Melatonin hormone. In supplement form, the Melatonin is extracted from a plant and then added to a capsule. These supplements are readily available at many different stores, and can also help in improving sleep, but only in certain situations. This is because hormone found naturally in the human body assists with the sleep-wake cycles of the body.
5-HTP, also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, is a natural substance that is produced through a conversion process of Tryptophan. When taking a supplement that contains 5-HTP, Tryptophan does not first have to be converted to 5-HTP, which means the supplement can provide the user with faster benefits as compared to some of the other options available, including opting for Tryptophan.
When Not to Use Over the Counter Sleep Drugs for Insomnia Treatment
Over-the-counter drugs used to assist a person in overcoming the effects of insomnia and induce better sleep can be obtained at virtually any pharmacy. While many of these products are highly effective, it is important that people understand many side-effects may be experienced with the use of these drugs.
There are certain cases where it is also important to take current circumstances into account and rather opt for a natural option as opposed to the drugs that can be obtained to assist with improving overall sleep quality.
1. Sleep Aids For Children
Many children struggle to fall asleep at night, which can cause them to suffer from sleep deficiency and lead to an impairment in their overall functionality during their time at school.
When such a problem affects a child, it may seem appropriate to opt for an over-the-counter drug to get the child to sleep, but the side-effects in children that these sleep drugs cause can be far greater than in adults therefore it is advisable to seek medical advice first before purchasing even those sleeps aids that are specifically manufactured for kids.
This is one particular case where it is important to consider rather opting for natural sleep aids to help the child sleep without causing them to become exposed to the potential risks and side-effects that an over-the-counter drug may induce in them.
2. During Pregnancy
Another important case where a person should rather decide to buy a natural sleep aid instead of opting for a drug that can be purchased over-the-counter at a local pharmacy is during pregnancy.
While pregnant, there are many types of pharmaceutical drugs that a woman needs to avoid, since the chemicals found in these drugs can impose harmful effects on the developing child in the woman. To reduce the risk of potential hazards to the unborn child, but still ensure you get enough sleep while pregnant, try to opt for a natural substance that holds a lower risk of side-effects.
Still, always be sure to take a close look at the ingredients of the sleep aid and ensure it is safe to take while pregnant, as some natural extracts may not be appropriate during pregnancy as well.
3. In Cases Of Chronic Illness
Chronic illnesses are known to cause problems with a person’s sleep, due to pain, discomfort and other particular symptoms that may be experienced by the individual. In these cases, many over-the-counter drugs used for sleep may be inappropriate due to the potential hazards they may hold for the individual’s health. Natural substances, however, can help these people get enough sleep to support their immune system and overall wellbeing, without causing the dangerous hazards of pharmaceutical drugs.
Prescription Sleeping Pills Versus OTC Sleeping Aids
Individuals suffering from insomnia and other issues leading to sleep disturbances have a number of different options to choose from when it comes to alleviating these problems. A visit to a doctor’s office can yield a prescription for certain drugs that are used to treat insomnia, while a visit to a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription will provide the individual with a range of other options. Both prescription drugs and over-the-counter options have benefits and drawbacks to be considered.
Prescription drugs that physicians often provide to a patient when they complain about insomnia often include:
- Ambien or Ambien CR (Zolpidem)
- Rozerem (Ramelteon)
- Lunesta (Eszopiclone)
Other drugs, such as Trazodone, a type of antidepressant, are also sometimes used. The physician will usually first analyze the patient’s symptoms and ask about how long it takes them to fall asleep, and how long they are able to stay asleep. Additional medical exams may also be conducted to determine if an underlying health issue may be the cause of the patient’s sleep difficulties.
The prescription drugs that doctors provide to patients with insomnia are often effective in producing the desired results. When the patient still seems to suffer from insufficient sleep, they may request a higher prescription from the doctor, until they reach the dosage that provides the desired results.
A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 4.1% of all Americans adults, aged 20 years and older, are using a prescription drug to help them sleep at night. The statistics seem to increase significantly with age, with up to 7% of those individuals aged 80 years or older taking such a drug.
While these drugs may be helpful in treating insomnia, there are unpleasant side-effects that people need to be wary of. With Ambien being one of the most commonly used prescription sleep drugs throughout the entire world, let’s take a look at the possible side-effects and negative points that people need to know of when it comes to relying on this drug to help them sleep.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recently released an announcement that explained their concerns with both types of Ambien prescription drugs currently on the market, including Ambien and Ambien CR. They also provided a warning about additional drugs that contain the active ingredient Zolpidem.
The announcement was made to create better awareness of the fact that Zolpidem can cause a person to have impaired abilities the next day, especially while driving. Several reports were mentioned in the publication to provide evidence of the claims made during the announcement by the FDA. The announcement continued to explain that many patients find that they feel awake the next morning, yet still experience an impairment in their driving ability, as well as other functions that require thinking and processing.
Another important potential adverse effect that should also be alarming to individuals who are already on this drug, or individuals who are considering the use of a prescription drug for insomnia, is the fact that Ambien, along with most other prescription sleep drugs, can cause a person to become addicted to the drug, which raises a concern for the possibility that a person may start to abuse the drug. After a while, a person may start to solely rely on these drugs to help them fall asleep.
The body may also start to develop a level of tolerance to the use of these sleep drugs, which means they become less effective and, automatically, the individual requires more of the drug to help them alleviate the symptoms of insomnia. Approximately 43% of individuals who do become dependent on Ambien are estimated to have a history where they have previously abused another drug, which means these individuals are at a higher risk, but not the only ones to be concerned.
Should a person develop an addiction to these drugs or start to abuse them, they are also exposed to a high risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they do go off the prescription drug that was prescribed to them. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms from certain types of prescription drugs, such as Ambien, may lead to harmful side-effects, including delirium. There have also been cases where individuals experienced seizures as a withdrawal symptom.
Some of the over-the-counter drugs that are available at pharmacies without the need for a doctor’s prescription also holds some potential side-effects and risks. The risks associated with these options, however, are often much less significant than those associated with Ambien and similar prescription drugs.
The majority of the over the counter sleeping aids individuals can opt for does not have a risk of dependence or withdrawal symptoms, which means they can be taken as needed, and the individual will not suddenly experience adverse effects if they decide to stop or skip a night.
Certain otc sleeping pills may lead to sleepiness or impaired concentration the next day as well, but the significant of these effects are usually not as dangerous as a person may experience when they take a prescription drug like Ambien. Additionally, it is important to consider the fact that there are many different types of over-the-counter drugs and supplements that can be used for the purpose of providing a relief of insomnia, and to induce improvements in overall sleep quality.
Reasons why Good Sleep is Important
To truly understand why such a significant focus is being placed on the general population suffering from sleep deprivation, education about the importance of sleep is necessary. Knowledge about how sleep affects the body, and the particular processes the body goes through while asleep, can help a person determine why it is so crucial for them to make obtaining an adequate amount of sleep an essential part of their life, and also realize how eliminating sleep deprivation could help them become more productive.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute explains that sleep is essential for four particular areas of a person's life:
- Mental wellbeing
- Physical wellbeing
- Quality of life
- Overall safety
Attending to these four aspects can lead to a happy, healthy life, as well as a longer lifespan. Thus, when adequate amounts of sleep are obtained, you are ensuring these four vital elements of your life is kept in good health. Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas where adequate sleep has a positive effect.
#1. Mental Wellbeing
We should start by considering how sleep affects the brain. Many phrases used would make a person think that their brain goes into an “offline” state during sleep, but while you are sleeping, the opposite is actually true. There are two phases of sleep, including Deep sleep and Dreaming sleep. Deep sleep is also known as Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS), and Dreaming Sleep is also called Rapid Eye Movement, or REM for short.
During each of these phases, the brain remains active. The majority of sleep involves the SWS state of sleep, which consists of slow, but significant brain waves, deep and slow breathing, and also muscles that become relaxed. This phase of sleep is essential as it helps the body recover from everything that was done during the past day – from physical activities to mental stressors. During the SWS sleeping phase, the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus, which is located in the hypothalamus of the brain, and the parafacial zone, located within the brain stem, switches on. In turn, unconsciousness is generated, which is why we become asleep.
When we enter the REM phase of sleep, brain waves become faster and more significant, the heart rate starts to increase, and the muscles throughout our bodies go into a paralyzed state. At the moment, scientists are not entirely sure what exactly the purpose of REM sleep is. They do have a basic understanding of the neurobiology of this sleep phase, but further research is needed to provide the population with more in-depth and accurate data on why we enter a REM sleep mode following the SWS phase.
It is currently known that sleep plays a role in many mental functions, including the regulation of our mood. During sleep, waste is also removed from the brain, and the brain's cells become re-energized; thus preparing the brain for the next day. Libido and appetite are also two particular elements that are affected by sleep. Sleep is also essential for optimal memory function and learning abilities.
#2. Physical Wellbeing
A significant focus is often placed on the importance of sleep for mental health, but the physiological wellbeing of the human body also benefits significantly from adequate sleep. One of the most critical ways that sleep becomes essential for your physical health is the impact that sleep has on your immune function. Your immune system is vital for a long, healthy life. With adequate sleep, your immune system can stay healthy and be able to efficiently fight against pathogens that enter your body, including bacteria and viruses, and also help to keep your risk of developing more serious chronic diseases at a minimal.
Some scientific studies have also presented a possible connection that exists between pain and sleep. Adequate levels of sleep have been proven beneficial and essential for individuals who suffer from chronic pain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and for reducing the severity of lower back pain, and other types of chronic pain.
#3. Quality of Life
The quality of life in a person is also affected directly and indirectly by the quality and amount of sleep they obtain. Feeling sleepy and tired all day causes a person to suffer from poorer overall quality of life, and the many risks associated with insufficient sleep further affects the quality of a person’s life in general. With adequate sleeping quality and time, these problems are alleviated, and quality of life is considerably improved. One study looked at over 10,000 patients who were asked to complete a questionnaire, with the primary focus on comparing sleeping quality and time, with the overall quality of life amongst participants. It was found that those individuals with the highest self-reported quality of life were the ones who obtained sleep that was considered “normal” and “adequate." Groups who slept too little or too much had a lower self-reported quality of life in general.
#4. Overall Safety
Another critical fact that need to be discussed when it comes to looking at the importance of sleep in a person’s life is their safety. This is not a factor that many people tend to pay enough attention to when they lack adequate amounts of sleep but could be the factor that puts their life in jeopardy.
Adequate sleep ensures you do not feel sleepy or drowsy during the day, and will avoid you falling asleep unexpectedly. Such an event could cause accidents to occur while driving, or while operating heavy machinery at the workplace – in turn, this may lead to fatal or nonfatal injuries and put your life in danger.
How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need?
While a large number of publications and informative pieces are available on the sleep deprivation epidemic faced by the majority of the population, and about particular health problems that may become present when a person suffers from sleep deprivation, many people fail to identify the right amount of sleep they need. When you sleep too little, you suffer from sleep deprivation, and your overall well-being may become compromised. On the other hand, sleep too much, and you are also prone to developing many potential complications. Thus, the perfect balance of sleep needs to be achieved in order to benefit your body just the right way.
Determining how much sleep a particular individual requires for optimal functionality, the elimination of daytime sleepiness, and to support their abilities and productivity, can be a difficult task. There are specific guidelines available to assist with this identification process. At the same time, it is important to note that specific unique factors about a particular individual may cause them to require less or more sleep. Since stress has a significant impact on the body's overall function and well-being, a person with higher levels of stress may need to sleep a little longer.
A healthy adult individual is usually recommended to obtain between seven and nine hours of sleep each day. Younger individuals do need to sleep more, and the elderly are at the lower end of the sleep requirement figure. Seven to nine hours of sleep is usually enough for all the processes that occur during sleep to be performed appropriately, without causing oversleeping.
Certain indications may be of assistance in allowing a particular individual to determine if they are obtaining enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends paying attention to the development of sleeping problems and disorders that interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Factors that might indicate you are not gaining enough sleep include feeling sleepy and drowsy while you are driving, and having to rely on caffeine in order to stay awake during the day.
Dreadful Consequences of Sleep Deficiency
The most immediate complications and risks that sleep deficiency exposes a person to would be excessive sleepiness during their day-to-day life. This causes the individual to become more prone to being involved in an accident, as they may fall asleep while driving, or while operating certain machinery at work. The daytime sleepiness that is caused by a deficiency of sleep also comes into play when we look at overall productivity.
Cognitive functioning becomes impaired when a person is tired during the day, which means they will not be productive at work and perform their duties as expected. Not only can this lead to errors in their assignments, but it can also put their job on the line.
Emotional problems are also more prevalent amongst people who are suffering from sleep deprivation. Depression, in particular, shares a strong relation to poor sleep. Individuals who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation are around time times at a higher risk of suffering from clinical depression, and may also be at a 17 times higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder. It is important to know that these complications can develop even with small amounts of sleep deprivation over a long period of time. Additionally, people who are deprived of enough sleep on a chronic basis are also more likely to experience adverse complications in their overall mood – they will not feel as happy and positive as compared to obtaining enough sleep.
Body weight can also be affected by sleep deprivation. A recent publication by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health explains that the latest research into sleep deprivation found that individuals who obtain an adequate amount of sleep tend to have a healthier body weight when compared to those individuals who do not get enough sleep. Sleep affects how the body regulates ghrelin and leptin, two important hormones that are involved in satiety and the experience of hunger. Additionally, when a person does not gain enough sleep, the body releases an excessive supply of insulin. In turn, this increases the individual's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and also causes a significant increase in the storage of fat throughout their bodies.
Other ways that sleep deprivation can adversely affect and harm the human body include:
1. Men may experience a drop in the production of important hormones in their bodies, including the production of testosterone, an essential hormone that contributes to a healthy sex drive, better muscle mass, and improvements in fat distribution. Testosterone also plays a part in other functions, including cardiovascular health and bone density. Growth hormone production may also be impaired when a man does not sleep enough.
2. Sleep helps to keep the production of cytokines in the body at adequate levels, which are cells that help to fight against infection and disease. Sleep deprivation lowers the number of cytokines produced by the immune system; thus impairing the body’s ability to fight back against bacterial infections, viral infections, and other illnesses.
3. People who suffer from sleep deprivation also usually have higher levels of chronic inflammation throughout their body. Even though usually low-grade inflammation, it is important to consider the fact that inflammation is often pointed out as the underlying cause of most chronic diseases, including heart failure and cancer. Better sleep duration and quality are needed to help reduce low-grade chronic inflammation in the body.
4. Sleep deprivation also causes inadequate regulation of blood pressure in the body. This can lead to high blood pressure, which puts a person at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and may also lead to additional complications, such as erectile dysfunction symptoms amongst men.
Another significant complication of sleep deprivation that individuals need to be aware of is the connection between proper sleep and good respiratory health. Sleep deprivation may cause a person to develop new respiratory diseases. Individuals who have already been diagnosed with a disease that affects their respiratory system may also find that the symptoms caused by the conditions they are suffering from becoming worse.
Common Causes of Sleep Deficiency
Sleep deficiency simply means a person is not obtaining enough sleep. With this description in mind, it seems pretty self-explanatory to know what the cause is – the person is not ensuring they sleep enough. Unfortunately, things are more complicated for most people who are suffering from this problem.
There is always a particular reason why a person is not obtaining an adequate amount or quality of sleep – while some of these causes can be attributed to a factor that the individual is causing themselves, such as deciding to stay up late playing video games or watching television, there are cases where the underlying cause of sleep deficiency is more serious, such as when insomnia is caused by a medical health condition.
The modern day is a leading cause of sleep deficiency in the general population. We now live in a world where our schedules often contain more tasks and assignments that what we are capable of fitting into a single day. This means we often have to give up some of our sleep time in order to ensure we cover all of the entries in our schedule.
You may have an important meeting coming up the next day, so you decide to work until two o’ clock in the morning in order to make sure you are ready for that meeting. You obviously have to get up early in the morning, as you have to be at work before the clock strikes eight, so you only get around three to four hours of sleep.
Some people may also sit up and catch up on the latest episodes of their favorite season without keeping an eye on the current time, which causes them to go to bed very late and, in turn, causing them to obtain just a few hours of sleep. Many of these people do not realize the importance that sleep plays in their life – this is why education about the particular consequences of sleep deprivation is so important.
Our Final Thoughts
There is a good reason why hundreds of campaigns are launched to make people more aware of sleep deficiency, and why so many publications advise people to make it a priority to obtain enough sleep on a daily basis.
While all people in the modern world are sure to experience a poor night’s sleep at some point in their life, chronic sleep deprivation can cause many unpleasant adverse complications in a person’s life. There are many reasons why sleep is important, as we have described already, but knowing what particular consequences sleep deprivation may have on your body is also important.
Sleep deprivation causes both mental and physical complications, and can lead to a significant reduction in a person’s quality of life. Treatment is available in different forms, including taking a simple over-the-counter medication, a natural supplement, or a prescription drug. The treatment that would be most effective for a person can depend on why they are suffering from sleep deprivation.
This guide introduced you to some of the most effective over-the-counter options on the market at the moment, providing you a safe way to ensure you gain enough sleep; thus reducing the risks you may be exposed to due to sleep deficiency. We also provided some useful lifestyle factors that may also be helpful in providing you with better (and longer) sleep.