What to Take to Help Sleep


January 9, 2024

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Are you considering taking medications to help sleep? Finding the right one can be overwhelming.  The following information can help you decide on sleep aids. Additionally, you will find information about:

  • How to sleep without medication
  • What is the best over the counter sleep medication?
  • What is a safe sleep aid?
  • What can I take to sleep at night?
  • What to Take to Help Sleep?

It is possible to improve your sleep with over-the-counter or prescription medications. There are, however, natural sleeping aids if you are wary about taking drugs. Other methods include lifestyle changes and therapy. Below is a list of medications to help you sleep.

Things You Can Take To Help Sleep:

Over the counter Medication 

  • Diphenhydramine (Unisom, Snuzaid)
  • Doxylamine (Restavit, Sleep Aid)

 Prescription Medication 

  • Melatonin (Requires prescription in Australia)
  • Benzodiazepines (BDZs)
  • Doxepin (Sinequan)
  • Dual Orexin Receptor Antagonists (DORAs) like Belsomra

Natural Sleeping Aids

  • Valerian 
  • Hops
  • Kava
  • Tryptophan
  • Chamomile

How to Sleep without Medication

Sleeping without medication requires a change in lifestyle and sleeping habits. The good thing about going off medications is that there are no side effects. Instead, it focuses on long-term practices you can employ to deal with sleep disorders.

For your bedtime prep, here are a few tips:

  • Consistency is Key: Follow a strict routine. Consider, for instance, sleeping at the same time and waking up at the same time.
  • Remove Technology: Make sure your room is dark and there are no devices to distract you. Move your phone, television, computers, or any other device to another room.
  • Ambience: Your room should be dark and quiet. You can also adjust your AC or heating unit to a comfortable temperature.
  • Don't eat or drink before bed: Do not eat any heavy meals or drink a lot of water before bed. Especially avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Here are some lifestyle changes and therapeutic approaches you can adopt:

  • Exercise: Exert yourself physically during the day. When we exercise, there is a rise in body temperature, which decreases at night. This drop-in body heat allows us to sleep better. Aerobic exercises for at least 30 minutes can help with insomnia by increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood.
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) allows us to confront our thoughts and emotions. It studies our pattern of behaviour and helps identify harmful components. A study from Harvard shows that CBT is more efficacious at treating insomnia than medication.

Frustration and worries can often cloud our minds, not allowing us to relax. If you think that you’re being burdened mentally, CBT could be the right therapy.

What is the Best Over Counter Sleep medicine?

For most people, antihistamines are very effective to help sleep. They work quickly and can tackle most sleeping disorders and problems with just a single dose. 

Also, among antihistamines, Diphenhydramine is better than doxylamine. It is because diphenhydramine is cheaper and has more manageable side effects.

However, blindly experimenting with medications to find the most effective over the counter sleeping aid is dangerous. It can cause unwanted complications. So, talk to your doctor and get the proper medication according to your health.

What is The Best Prescription Sleep Aid?

The best prescription sleeping aids subjective to what kind of disorder you have. Prescription sleeping aids usually treat chronic insomnia. Your doctor can either prescribe you a benzodiazepine or a non-benzodiazepine drug, depending on your problems.

Melatonin can also be the right option for you if you want something naturally found in your body. However, one downside is that it may not work for most sleeping disorders.

What is a Safe Sleep Aid?

The truth is all sleep aids can be “safe.” Knowing exactly how to use them and monitoring how we respond to them can keep us safe. Proceeding with informed decisions is critical to assess how effective anything will be for us. 

Even natural sleeping aids can sometimes cause side effects like allergies. It is because there are so many components in a single extract. Also, the ingredients are not isolated and refined, unlike regular medicines.

There is not much control over how these sleep aids are formulated. So, a natural concoction may take longer to work. 

What is a good natural sleep aid?

There are a few natural sleep aids that have shown efficacy. But you have to be consistent with your intake. Here are a few good natural sleep aids

  • Valerian Root: Valerian has been used since the 2nd century A.D. as a sedating herb. Ancient Greeks and Romans used it to treat insomnia and anxiety. Valerian possibly increases the levels of chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. You need to take it daily for about 2 or more weeks.
  • Hops: Hops are flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant which can be used as sedatives. They have a long history of medicinal uses dating back to the 9th Century. Interestingly they’re also used in beer.

What is the Best Natural Sleep Aid?

Remarkably, the best natural sleep aid is a combination of both valerian root and hops. A study shows that they are very effective when taken in combination with each other. The effect of this dual concoction is similar to that of the antihistamine drug diphenhydramine (Benadryl).

What can I Take to Make Me Sleep at Night?

You can take a sleeping aid, whether a prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or a natural remedy. Always take these sleeping aids a few hours before you sleep. It will ensure that the aid has time to work in your body and you don’t get frustrated waiting for it to work. 

Medication can be further divided into ones that help you stay asleep and ones that make you sleepy. But, consult your doctor to find out which is the right one for your issue.

What is in Sleep Aids?

Most prescription drugs have benzodiazepine or a non-benzodiazepine like zaleplon or zopiclone present. They are known as “sedative hypnotics” because they reduce the activity of the nervous system. Barbiturates, although primarily used as anesthetics, are also used as a sedative. Melatonin is a synthetically manufactured hormone that aids the melatonin naturally produced in our brain. 

On the other hand, over-the-counter medications are usually antihistamines. Natural sleeping aids are made from the flowers, leaves, and roots of a plant. These plants contain concentrations of sedatives that can be used to treat sleeping problems and disorders.

The most proactive method to counter sleeping issues is to modify your lifestyle. If you face repeated issues with sleeping, then immediately consult your doctor. Sleeping problems can quickly become chronic if not treated immediately. Do not try to get these medications on your own. Despite several of these medications being over the counter, take them only under a doctor’s guidance.