HsPark Blog

Are Otc Sleep Aids Safe?

Sleep disorder leads many people to take sleeping pills and go for chronic insomnia treatment. The market is flooded with many different kinds of sleeping pills. However, these sleeping pills are effective if used once in a while and that also for short term situations. A person with chronic insomnia cannot rely upon sleeping pills, as the issue needs a medical intervention. Moreover, sleeping pills also if taken regularly show less effects and more side effects.

No doubt, safe sleeping pills are useful in situations like traveling across time zones or recovering from a medical procedure or pain. However, every other sleepless night needs careful attention and help of a doctor. There can be many reasons behind insomnia, like depression, anxiety, stress, medical problems etc. Hence, one needs to consult a healthcare professional for help. Among many sleeping aids like herbal sleeping aids, sleeping pills, natural remedies, OTC sleep aids is very popular. Here s a list of common over-the-counter (OTC) sleep medications:

• Doxylamine (found in brand names like Nighttime Sleep Aid and Unisom)

• Diphenhydramine (found in brand names like Sominex, Compoz, Sleepinal and Nytol )

• Combination of antihistamines with the pain reliever Acetaminophen (found in brand names, such as Tylenol PM and Aspirin-Free Anacin PM)

• NyQuil, combine antihistamines with alcohol

The key ingredient in OTC sleeping pills is an antihistamine. Antihistamines, in brand name medications like Benadryl, are taken for allergies, hay fever and common cold symptoms. However, these sleep aids are meant to be taken for short term insomnia, as many experts advise against the use of such sleep aids because of side effects. Their side effects include next-day drowsiness, which is common and can be very severe sometimes. Moreover, their effectiveness is also not confirmed and here is lack of information about their safety over the long time.

The most common side effects of OTC sleep aids are:
• Blurred vision
• Dry mouth and throat
• Dizziness and forgetfulness
• The next day drowsiness
• Feeling off balance
• Constipation and urinary retention

When taking sleeping pills or any kind of sleep aid remember to take a pill only when you will have enough time to get a full night of sleep and carefully read the instruction. Never combine a sleeping pill with alcohol, as it can be dangerous. Avoid driving after taking a sleeping aid, as you do not know how it will affect you. Moreover, you have to consult a doctor before taking any kind of sleeping pill; as if you are on some medication, then you have to be careful in taking two medications at one time. You also need to see if you have any complicated medical problems, which can be hampered by sleeping pills. Any kind of sleeping aid can comfort you but for a short time. If you are facing chronic insomnia, then it is advised to consult an expert, as he/she will be able to tell you alternatives of sleeping pills. For example, sleeping behavior affects a person’s sleep to a great extent. So, by changing your sleeping behavior, environment and habits, you can cope up with insomnia.