What are some effective over-the-counter sleep aids?


Quick Answer

Benadryl, Unisom, melatonin and valerian are all effective over-the-counter sleep aids, according to Mayo Clinic. Before taking these medications, however, individuals should be aware of the side effects associated with them.

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Full Answer

Benadryl and Unisom SleepGels are types of sedating antihistamines commonly used as sleep aids, explains Mayo Clinic. Side effects of sedating antihistamines include dry mouth, daytime drowsiness, blurred vision, urinary retention and constipation. Another type of over-the-counter sleep aid is doxylamine succinate, such as Unisom Sleep Tabs. The side effects of these medications are similar to Benadryl and Unisom SleepGels. Store brands are available for individuals, and offer the same benefits and side effects as the brand-name products.

People who are having issues with insomnia may also want to consider natural options, such as melatonin and valerian, states Mayo Clinic. Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally made in the brain, and helps to control the natural cycle of sleeping and waking. There are studies that support melatonin usage for reducing the time to fall asleep and for treating jet lag. Side effects of melatonin include daytime sleepiness and headache. Valerian is also a common natural sleep aid and is derived from a plant. There are no known side effects of valerian, but the results from studies on its effectiveness are mixed, as of 2015.

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