Sunday, December 5

Sleep Aids: When and How to Use One if You Can’t Sleep Right

So, you’ve followed the common and usual tips for getting enough sleep —maintaining a regular sleep schedule, exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine, avoiding lighted screens before bed, avoiding daytime naps, and managing stress. Still, to no avail, you are still suffering from insomnia and it’s already driving you crazy.

Sleep aids are a class of psychoactive drug which its main function is inducing sleep. Many people, particularly those who are suffering from insomnia, find sleep aids helpful in giving them the rest and sleep that they need since they sleep longer in the night and wakes up less frequently, improving their quality of sleep.  So, should you now ask for help from sleep aids?

When to Use Sleep Aids?

How do you determine that you really need to take sleep aids? First, you should know that your trouble in sleeping cannot be mediated by the behavioral changes that you religiously did like maintaining a proper sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine, or having proper sleep hygiene all over and other non-medical treatments.

Which, in all of these activities that you’ve done, your insomnia continues to interfere with daily activities and your productivity.

Other reasons in the following might indicate that you should take sleep aid such as:

  •    Short-term insomnia, when you’re having difficulty in sleeping due to a temporary change in your work schedule; jet lag; and other cause of short-term anxiety and sleep loss
  •    If your doctor has determined the cause of insomnia. Discuss with your doctor that your sleeping troubles are taking a toll on your psychological wellness or overall health.

Sleep Aids: A Magic Cure?

First and foremost, if you think that sleep aids are a magic cure then think twice, it is not. Some people may think that their problems are immediately solved just with the help of sleep aids. However, over-the-counter sleep aids can only be effective for occasional sleepless nights.

Because most of the over-the-counter sleep aids contain antihistamines, tolerance to its sedative effect can be developed quickly, thus the frequent you take them, its effects lessen and would likely make you less sleepy. Additionally, some over-the-counter sleep aids have the so-called hangover effect which leaves you feeling groggy and unwell the next day.

Options of Sleep Aids

Since sleep aids are widely available. The medications stated here are the common choices, together with its potential side effects which include:

Diphenhydramine (Aleve PM, Benadryl)

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This is a sedating antihistamine which its side effects are daytime drowsiness, blurred vision, constipation, dry mouth, and urinary retention.

Doxylamine Succinate (Unisom SleepTabs)

Another sedating antihistamine. Its side effects are similar to the diphenhydramine.


Melatonin is a hormone which induces sleep and this is in a form of supplement which helps control your natural sleep-wake cycle. Its effect is typically mild but you can get headaches and daytime sleepiness from it.


This supplement is made from the plant that is sometimes taken as sleep aids.  This does not appear to cause side effects and there are store brands which contains the same active ingredients which are commonly available as brand-name sleep aids.

Important Precautions

These are the important precautions that you need to be aware of when taking sleep aids:

  •    Ask your doctor. Always start with your doctor if you want to take sleep aids so your doctor could recommend and give you precautionary about sleep aids and what dosage to take.
  •    Be mindful of precautions. Diphenhydramine and doxylamine aren’t recommended for people who have asthma, closed-angle glaucoma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, severe liver disease, digestive system obstruction or urinary retention, pregnant or breastfeeding women. Additionally, people over 75 years of age poses some risk, thus it is not recommended for these people to take one.
  •    One day at a time. Sleep aids are a temporary solution, this is not intended to be used for longer than two weeks.
  •    Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol increases sedative effects, so never mix alcohol and your intake of sleep aids.
  •    Beware of side effects. Never attempt to drive or do any activities that require alertness when taking sleep aids.


Sleep aids cannot replace healthy sleep habits, they are just used simply to aid your sleeping troubles and is a part of the beginning in the treatment of your insomnia and behavioral techniques as it takes over as a long-term approach. If your insomnia is long-standing, it is important to use non-medical approaches, continuing your proper sleep hygiene routine and cognitive behavioral treatments.

Lastly, make yourself knowledgeable in terms of sleep aids, visit sites like for additional knowledge and discounts or read books that add to your knowledge medications-wise. This is to make yourself be familiarized and be knowledgeable enough to know the medications’ side effects and other precautionary labels in using a sleep aid.

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