3 Great Sleeping Aids To Help You Rest

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

While sleep comes easily to some, there are plenty of individuals who struggle to get a good night's sleep. Even if you have a busy, active life, that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be capable of going to sleep whenever you'd like to. This challenge typically leads to several other problems and issues, including fatigue, irritability and even health concerns.

Fortunately, there are several great options when it comes to taking sleep aids to help with insomnia. Keep in mind, however, that these sleep aids often come with unpleasant side effects and that the decision to take such medications or supplements should not be taken lightly. Always consult a doctor before starting a regimen of sleep aids, no matter what type you choose.

1. Natural sleep aids: There are many natural products available to help ease the frustrations of getting enough sleep at night. However, it's important to keep in mind that many natural sleep aids have not been approved by the FDA for those purposes, so results may vary. Unlike over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids, natural sleep aids may be utilized on a more long-term basis, but only under the supervision of a doctor. Otherwise, these sleep aids should be used only for short-term sleep assistance. Below are some of the most popular natural sleep aid products currently available:

  • Melatonin: A hormone supplement which regulates the body's sleep-wake rhythms.
  • Tryptophan: An amino acid often associated with sleepiness.
  • Valerian: An herbal extract used to manage insomnia.
  • Chamomile: An herbal sleep aid often ingested as a tea.
  • Kava: An herbal sleep aid which induces relaxation.

2. Over-the-counter sleep aids: Because they are easy to obtain and generally inexpensive, over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids are quite popular. Generally, OTC sleep aids contain a combination of antihistamines, which are used to treat allergies and hay fever, and acetaminophen, a pain reliever found in brands like Tylenol. Because these ingredients are being repurposed for making someone sleepy, doctors recommend that OTC sleep aids only be used for short-term assistance with falling asleep. Do not use these products for more than a few days in a row without consulting a doctor. Below are some of the common name brands for OTC sleep aids:

  • Unisom
  • Nytol
  • Sleepinal
  • Compoz
  • Sominex

3. Prescription Sleep Aids: It's no surprise that prescription sleep aids are much stronger than OTC sleep aids. Like over-the-counter meds, prescription sleep aids are not meant to be used on a long-term basis. Instead, they are encouraged only for people with serious sleep issues who need help regulating their body's sleep-wake rhythms. Below are some of the most popular prescription sleep aid products:

  • Lunesta
  • Ambien
  • Sonata

Side Effects: Anyone who is considering the implementation of sleep aids of any sort should make themselves fully aware of the side effects related to these medications and supplements. In general, sleep aids are known to have some unpleasant side effects. Depending on an individual's sleeping habits, the type of sleep aid, and how often it is taken, these side effects may vary. Below are some of the most common side effects related to sleeping aids:

  • Dizziness or clumsiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Constipation
  • Urinary retention
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • A "hangover" effect the following day
  • Addiction, especially with prescription sleep aids

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