If you are having trouble sleeping, and just switching up your habits isn’t enough to help, you might need to turn to sleeping aids. There are three main categories of sleeping aids – prescription, over-the-counter, and natural. We are going to discuss all three of them, but focus mainly on OTC and natural options for improving your sleep.
Prescription and OTC Sleep Aids
The first types of sleep aids are either available at your local drug store over-the-counter, or by prescription from your doctor. There are some pros and cons for every sleep aid, whether it is natural or not. It is good to understand what each medication can do for you in order to make a decision on which might help you the best.
Prescription Sleep Aids
First we have the sleep aids available by prescription. Benzodiazepines are a type of prescription medication that help to slow the activity in your brain. These are often given to people for anxiety and other mental health disorders, but they can also help rest your brain to help you sleep better. These include medications like lorazepam, diazepam, triazolam, and temazepam.
There are also non-benzo prescription sleep aids like eszopiclone and zolpidem, or names you might recognize more easily – Lunesta and Ambien. These are good when your insomnia is from a short-term situation, like an increase in your anxiety or following a traumatic event. They are not intended for long-term use.
Your doctor might also recommend antidepressants, which can help with the serotonin levels in your brain to encourage better rest at night. The most common antidepressants prescribed for insomnia are amitriptyline and trazodone.
Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
The OTC meds are good because they don’t require a prescription, but you also need to be careful about tolerance and addiction.
Most OTC sleeping aids are a type of antihistamine or diphenhydramine. There are drowsy formulas of drugs often taken for allergies, sinus, and colds. These might include Benadryl, Advil PM, Unisom, and Sominex.
These are also not recommended on a long-term basis, since they can cause drowsiness throughout the next day after taking them.
Natural Sleep Aids
For something you can take more on a continued basis, look at the natural options. These are not as harsh on your body, and can often help with long-term sleep issues.
The first natural sleep aid to consider taking is melatonin. This is a hormone you already have in your body that will help you decide when it is time to sleep. Unfortunately, you might have a decline in this hormone, and need to take a melatonin supplement. It is really beneficial for people who need to sleep during the day or at different times each day from a shift work schedule.
You can also try adding a magnesium supplement to your daily routine. If you are not getting enough magnesium through natural food sources, you might notice a decline in the quality of your sleep. There are different types of magnesium, from supplement pills you can take, to powder you add to your water.
If you are a fan of herbs and essential oils, there are a few that can help you get better sleep. Some o the best ones are lavender, rose, and chamomile.