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Read This Before Using OTC Sleep Aids

may 3 sleep aidsWHEN YOU HAVE a hard time sleeping at night and happen to mention it to your inner circle, you may find that practically all of your friends and relatives have a secret: they ocassionally use a sleep aid.

With almost 20 percent of the country’s population suffering from occasional insomnia, there are a lot of options out there. You should select carefully and use prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids properly, to avoid developing a dependence or making your sleep problems worse.

Who Needs Sleep Aids?

Although having difficulty sleeping is something that almost everyone has experience with, not everyone needs OTC sleep aids to get good shuteye. Sleep aids are designed to help people who are struggling with a particularly thorny problem or unexpected issue that’s temporarily making it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep.

What Sleep Aids Are Available?

When you walk down the sleep section at the pharmacy, you will find a wide range of products designed to knock you out with relative degrees of heaviness. Some are intended to simply create a light feeling of relaxation to help sleep, while others van makr you feel like are getting hit with a brick.

Common ingredients of over-the-counter sleep aids include:

    • Diphenhydramine (primary ingredient of Benadryl)
    • Doxylamine succinate (main active ingredient of Unisom)
    • Melatonin
    • Valerian

woman in drug store.jpgAs you browse through the different sleep aids, check the back of the package for the ingredient listing and the dosage. Some may be stronger than others.

How Do I Safely Use Sleep Aids?

Using medication or natural supplements to help you get to sleep should be treated as if you are taking a prescription medication. You must research the common side effects and give yourself the ability to see how you react personally.

You should not take sleep aids when you are responsible for being the primary caregiver of others, because you may sleep too deeply to wake up as needed. Avoid taking sleep aids in the middle of the night, because the effects may not wear off until midday or afternoon. If you need a sleep aid for more than a couple of weeks, you should visit your doctor for a discussion of alternatives. Prolonged use of sleep aids may create tolerance and dependence, requiring you to take the medication every night – and in increasingly larger doses – to get the same effect.

Are There Natural Ways to Promote Better Sleep?

Supplements like melatonin are often considered “natural” because they mimic a hormone that occurs naturally in the body. However, melatonin is also unregulated and poses similar side effects to OTC sleep aids.

If you are looking for truly natural sleep aids, your best bet may to look at the problem holistically, and focus on improving your sleep routine and sleep hygiene to resolve your sleep issues. If not, try adding aromatherapy to help guide your body to rest.

Trying to get to sleep can be a frustrating situation, enough that you might reach for sleep aids on occasion. With these tips, you can manage your sleep issues effectively, without becoming dependent on sleep aids to get effective rest.

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