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How do I Choose the Best over-The-Counter Sleeping Pills?

Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Your choice of over-the-counter sleeping pills should be made carefully, taking into consideration your doctor's advice, any allergies or sensitivities you may have, as well as any daily responsibilities with which a sleeping pill may interfere. Be sure to read the labeling on any box or bottle of over-the-counter sleeping pills so that you understand the risks of taking the medication and its potential side effects. You may also want to be particularly careful before consuming natural sleep remedies, including herbal capsules, tinctures, or teas, as their potency may not be standardized and the information on their risks and side effects may not be as well known those of standard sleeping pills.

Many over-the-counter sleeping pills contain an antihistamine. One side effect of many antihistimines is drowsiness, which can help you fall asleep. Tthe drowsiness can last for a long time and can make it difficult for you to wake up the next day. If you have to drive a car or perform tasks that require mental sharpness, antihistamine-based sleeping pills may not be a good option for you.

As antihistamines are frequently added to various cold, allergy, and nighttime pain pills, speak to a doctor or pharmacist about your choice of over-the-counter sleeping pills if you are already taking over-the-counter or prescription medication for other conditions. You may accidentally overdose on the antihistamine because you are taking several different pills containing the same drug. If you regularly drink alcohol, you should also be aware that the alcohol can enhance the sedative effect of the sleeping pill, which could present a danger to your health.

Many herbal, nutritional, and homeopathic sleep remedies are also available over the counter. The ingredients in these preparations vary, and some may interact with other medications that you take. Again, it's a good idea to speak to a pharmacist or a doctor trained in herbal medicine before mixing herbal and other medications. You should also become familiar with the side effects of these natural remedies so that you can avoid the potential for inattention or drowsiness as you go about your day.

While over-the-counter sleeping pills may help you get a good night's sleep, they are generally recommended only for short-term use. Chronic insomnia can be a serious and debilitating medical condition that should be treated by a doctor. There is a risk of dependency for over-the-counter sleeping pills, and they can have undesirable side effects. Speak to your doctor about your sleep problems, as he may be able to provide you with information about prescription drugs or other treatments more suitable for the treatment of long-term insomnia.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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