Sleep aids: Understand over-the-counter options
Trouble sleeping? Over-the-counter sleep aids might help temporarily — but lifestyle changes are usually the best approach for chronic insomnia.By Mayo Clinic Staff
You've followed the usual tips for getting enough sleep — sleeping on a regular schedule, avoiding caffeine and daytime naps, exercising regularly, and managing stress. Still, it's been weeks and a good night's sleep remains elusive. Is it time for an over-the-counter sleep aid? Here's what you need to know if you're considering medication to help you sleep.
Sleep aids: Not a magic cure
Over-the-counter sleep aids can be effective for an occasional sleepless night. There are a few caveats, however.
Most over-the-counter sleep aids contain antihistamines. Tolerance to the sedative effects of antihistamines can develop quickly — so the longer you take them, the less likely they are to make you sleepy.
In addition, some over-the-counter sleep aids can leave you feeling groggy and unwell the next day. This is the so-called hangover effect.
Medication interactions are possible as well, and much remains unknown about the safety and effectiveness of over-the-counter sleep aids.
Nov. 20, 2014
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