Are you having trouble sleeping? It’s essential to get the right amount of sleep for your health. Poor sleep can affect your alertness, energy levels, brain function, and immune system.
A lot of people find it hard to get enough sleep. It is a problem because rest is essential for your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that around 35 percent of American adults don’t get enough sleep, which means they sleep for less than seven hours each night.
Many Americans find it hard to get a good night’s sleep. It might be because they are busy or because it is difficult for them to fall asleep. Every year, about 25% of Americans have problems sleeping.
There are many different types of sleep aids available. Over-the-counter products and prescription medications are both options. Sleep aids can help you get a better night’s sleep and help you overcome insomnia.
If you have trouble sleeping or are looking for a safe way to help you sleep, keep reading. This article has information about different types of sleep aids.
Sleep Aids: An Overview
Search for sleep aids online, and you will quickly find many different products. There are many different formulas for sleep aids, and each one claims to be the best.
The majority of these sleep aids can be grouped into one of three categories:
- Natural sleep aids
Sleep aids are supplements that usually have ingredients like valerian root, lavender, and passionflower. They are easy to find online on websites like Amazon and local health food stores.
- Over-the-counter sleep aids
Many over-the-counter sleep aids don’t require a prescription. Some common ones are doxylamine (found in Unisom® and GoodSense®) and melatonin.
- Prescription sleep aids
There are sleep medications that require a prescription from a healthcare provider. Some popular sleep aids include zolpidem (Ambien®), doxepin (Silenor®), and ramelteon (Rozerem®).
Natural Sleep Aids
There are numerous natural sleep aids available on the market. They are frequently made using natural components. Seven of the most popular are given here. They are from classic sleep aids like chamomile to newer products with Ginkgo Biloba and cannabidiol (CBD).
Chamomile is a natural sleep aid that has been used for centuries. People have been drinking chamomile tea for relaxation and helping them sleep better. Chamomile tea is one of the most common natural sleep aids.
Some studies have found that chamomile tea has benefits, while others have not found any benefits. Most of these studies say more research is needed on chamomile to determine if it has any benefits.
For example, a study from 2009 found that chamomile might help reduce anxiety levels in people with generalized anxiety disorder. However, a 2011 study found no significant difference in sleep for people with insomnia treated with chamomile.
A study from 2017 found that chamomile extract improved sleep quality in the elderly over 28 days.
Chamomile is a popular natural sleep aid because it is affordable and easy to find. However, the science behind its benefits for sleep is mixed.
Valerian root is a popular herb that people use to help them sleep. You can find it in many different supplements to help people relax.
The valerian root used in these supplements is taken from an herb that grows naturally in certain parts of Asia and Europe. Chamomile is a popular natural sleep aid, and valerian grows naturally and is widely available has, made it one of the more popular options.
Valerian is a plant that some people say can help you sleep. Some studies have found that it helps, while others found that it doesn’t have much effect.
For example, a study from 2000 found that valerian performed better than a placebo at helping people who had trouble sleeping fall asleep. People who took valerian fell asleep an average of 15 minutes faster than those given a non-therapeutic placebo (45 minutes vs. 60 minutes).
However, 2004 and 2005 found that valerian was not more effective than a placebo at improving sleep quality or anxiety in adults.
Lavender is commonly sold in capsules and as an essential oil. People promoting natural health often say lavender is a safe and effective sleep aid.
There is limited large-scale study data on lavender’s effects on sleep. But the few studies have suggested that it might have mild sedative effects, which can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
For example, a study in 2014 observed 79 people with sleep issues. The study found that lavender essential oil improved sleep quality when used with proper sleep hygiene. Another study from 2005 found that lavender aromatherapy was associated with increased deep or slow-wave sleep.
Although these studies were small, their findings are fascinating. They suggest that lavender may have some benefits for improving sleep quality.
Passionflower is a common ingredient in herbal sleep aids.
Some people think that passionflower helps you sleep better. There is not a lot of research on this, but a study from 2011 showed that people who drank tea with passionflower in it thought they had a better night’s sleep. The study only had 41 participants, so more research is needed.
Another study from 2013 found that a combination of passionflower, valerian, and hops was just as effective as the active ingredient in Ambien at reducing sleep latency and improving sleep time.
However, more research needs to be completed to identify what the long-term benefits of this combination are. Researchers also need to determine if there is a dependence liability with this combination and long-term use.
Ginkgo biloba is an herb that comes from the Chinese maidenhair tree. It is often used in herbal sleep supplements. You can also find it as an all-purpose supplement that people say can help with anxiety and heart health.
Even though ginkgo Biloba is a popular herbal medicine, there is little evidence to show that it has any measurable effects on sleep.
A study from 2001 found no significant differences in sleep quality between the group given the ginkgo Biloba supplement and the group given the placebo. The study only included ten people, however.
Another study found that ginkgo Biloba improved sleep efficiency when used with trimipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant medication. However, it is difficult to say whether ginkgo Biloba had any effect because the participants also took trimipramine.
Magnesium is a mineral necessary for many things, like strong bones and DNA. Some people think that magnesium might also help you sleep better.
Magnesium is a mineral that is important for sleep and wellbeing. Clinical trials of magnesium have shown that it can improve symptoms of insomnia.
For example, a study from 2012 found that taking a magnesium supplement improved sleep time and efficiency in older adults. Another study from 2011 involving residents of long-term care facilities found that magnesium, when combined with melatonin and zinc, improved sleep quality scores.
So far, there hasn’t been much research on magnesium’s effects on sleep. However, the studies that have been done suggest that magnesium may help you sleep better.
If you’ve visited a natural health shop or read the news in the last few years, you’ve probably heard of CBD or cannabidiol.
CBD is legal on a federal level, but its legality is still unclear in some states.
Despite this, CBD has grown in popularity over the last few years because some say it is a natural treatment for many things.
CBD oil is commonly used to help people sleep. There is some evidence that it can be helpful for people with difficulty sleeping.
For example, a study from 2019 found that more than half of the adults who participated saw an improvement in their sleep after using CBD capsules. However, it is worth noting that while most people saw results within the first month, some people’s sleep scores improved and later worsened.
Other studies, like this one from 2010 and 2019, have found that CBD may help improve the symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. These disorders can make it challenging to get a good night’s sleep.
However, more research is needed on CBD. For example, in one study, patients were given CBD and regular outpatient psychiatric care.
There is not enough scientific evidence to say that CBD works as a natural sleep aid. However, the research that has been conducted so far suggests that it may have real potential.
Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
There are a variety of over-the-counter medications that can help improve sleep. These medications include those that are herbal and those that are not.
There are two types of sleep aids: natural and over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids. Natural sleep aids come from herbs or minerals, while OTC sleep aids contain pharmaceutical ingredients. You can buy these products from your local drug store, supermarket, or health foods store.
The following are four common over-the-counter sleep aids and how they work to improve sleep.
Melatonin is a popular over-the-counter sleep aid. It’s a key ingredient in our Gummy Sleep Vitamins, including other ingredients like chamomile and L-theanine.
The hormone melatonin helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your body releases its supply of melatonin as the day turns to night. And natural light levels dip, signaling that it is time for you to feel tired and sleep.
The problem is that our body is not in sync with modern technology. Our natural process for producing melatonin works well in a naturally lit environment. But when we are in front of screens late at night, it throws off our body’s natural sleep rhythm.
People are now getting less sleep because of smartphones, computer screens, artificial lighting, shift work, and watching Netflix late. It makes it harder for the body to regulate the sleep-wake cycle and causes people to feel tired later at night.
A scientific review from 2017 found that supplementing melatonin improved sleep quality. Reduced time required to fall asleep, increased total sleep time and regulated the body’s circadian rhythm.
Other studies have found that melatonin may help reduce jet lag symptoms in people who have traveled across time zones.
L-5 Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
5-HTP is a serotonin-producing amino acid that is made by the body. Serotonin is associated with sleep disorders, so 5-HTP is often used as a sleep supplement.
There is not a lot of research on 5-HTP’s effects on sleep.
One small study from 2010 found that a combination of GABA and 5-HTP helped patients fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and have a better quality of sleep than those who took a placebo.
Not many studies look at the effects of 5-HTP when it is used to help people sleep. So we do not know if it works as a sleep treatment you can get without a prescription.
Diphenhydramine is a sleep aid that many people use. You can buy without a prescription.
Diphenhydramine does not require a prescription, so it is a common sleep aid for people with insomnia. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine. It stops the uptake of the neurotransmitter histamine, which is in charge of your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and makes you feel alert and awake.
Some antihistamines can help you sleep. It is because they make you feel a bit sleepy. But, even though you’ll find it easier to fall asleep, you might not wake up feeling as rested as you’d like.
Diphenhydramine can reduce the amount of time you spend in REM sleep. It is because your brain activity is high during REM sleep, and you have intense dreams.
Some people find it difficult to fall asleep. If you are one of these people, using antihistamines like diphenhydramine may not be the best idea because they can also affect your sleep cycle. However, occasionally using Benadryl or diphenhydramine drugs is okay if you need help falling asleep.
Doxylamine is an antihistamine. It relieves allergy symptoms but might also help people sleep for a short time. Some people don’t recommend using doxylamine as a sleep aid because it might affect the sleep cycle.
Prescription Sleep Aids
Some people use natural sleep aids or over-the-counter sleeping pills to help them sleep when they have trouble sleeping.
However, over-the-counter medications may not be the best option if you have difficulty sleeping. Some over-the-counter sleep aids, such as antihistamines, can also affect your sleep quality when used over a long period.
Your healthcare provider may recommend a prescription sleep aid if you often find it difficult to fall asleep.
There are several types of medications that can help you sleep. The first type of sleep aid was from a class of drugs called benzodiazepines—these work by targeting specific receptors in the brain to produce a sedative effect.
Some people take drugs like lorazepam (Ativan®) and alprazolam (Xanax®) to help them sleep. However, recent studies have shown that these drugs can be dangerous and may cause you to become dependent on them.
Many different types of drugs are prescribed to people with trouble sleeping. The most common are hypnotics and antidepressants. We have listed the five most common drugs below and how they can help you get a good night’s sleep.
Ambien, a sleep medication, contains the active ingredient zolpidem. This ingredient is found in one of the most common sleep medications in the United States.
Studies of zolpidem show that it is a very effective treatment for insomnia. People usually find that it continues to work over the long term, unlike many over-the-counter sleep aids.
The study from 2012 looked at the effects of nightly zolpidem use in people with insomnia. The patients were assessed over eight months. Zolpidem significantly increased overall sleep time and sleep efficiency while reducing sleep latency.
A scientific review from 2011 found that zolpidem decreases the time it takes to fall asleep, improves sleep quality, and reduces awakenings after sleep onset.
Zolpidem works. However, it can cause side effects like daytime drowsiness. It also has a high potential for dependence and overuse, so it is not usually recommended for people who must be very active soon after waking up.
Zaleplon is a drug that is used to treat insomnia. It is in the same class of drugs like Ambien, but there are some key differences.
The biggest difference between zaleplon and zolpidem is their half-life. Zaleplon has a shorter half-life of just 30 minutes, while the half-life of zolpidem can be up to three hours long. It means that zolpidem can linger in your body three times as long as zaleplon.
Studies of zaleplon have shown that it can reduce how long it takes to fall asleep and increase the total amount of sleep time for people who have insomnia.
In this 1999 study, elderly patients with insomnia slept more and were awake for less time before sleep after taking zaleplon.
Zaleplon is a short-acting medication, which can be an advantage if you need to wake up early. However, it can also make zaleplon less effective if you wake up at night.
Eszopiclone, sold under the brand Lunesta, is a medication used to treat insomnia.
The key difference between eszopiclone and other sleep medications is how long it lasts in your body. Eszopiclone lasts up to six hours, while other sleep medications only last a few hours.
Eszopiclone has a long half-life, which can be more effective in people who frequently wake up at night.
Doxepin is a prescription medication that belongs to the antidepressant class. It’s used for different reasons, including as a treatment for insomnia.
Studies of doxepin show that it helps people sleep better and for a longer period. These studies also show that low doses of doxepin don’t cause the next-day residual effects common with other sleeping pills.
One study from 2014 found that doxepin is an effective treatment for insomnia, even at low doses. However, it’s important to note that the improvements were only seen in the later hours of the night and did not help people fall asleep faster.
Are you considering doxepin as a treatment for insomnia? Our comprehensive guide explains how doxepin makes sleeping easier and compares it to other drugs on the market.
Ramelteon is a medication that can help you sleep. It is used to help people who have difficulty falling asleep.
Ramelteon is a drug that helps people go to sleep. Experts think it works by attaching to specific receptors in the body that help control when people wake up and sleep. Studies have shown that ramelteon makes it easier for people with insomnia to fall asleep faster than if they took a placebo. Separate studies from 2006 and 2007 also found that ramelteon can help people fall asleep faster.
In a nutshell, ramelteon can help people fall asleep faster. Surprisingly, studies on ramelteon have found that it does not cause any next-day residual effects. They suggest it is less likely to induce morning drowsiness than other prescription sleep medications.
What’s the Best Sleep Aid?
There are many different types of sleep aids and medications. It can be hard to choose the right one for you.
There is no one “best” sleep aid for everyone. Depending on how often you have trouble falling asleep and your sleep problems, you may need to try an over-the-counter sleep treatment or a prescription medication.
If you are having trouble sleeping, it is a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider. They will be able to prescribe a safe and suitable treatment for you based on your symptoms and needs.
Frequently Asked Questions about Best Sleep Aid
Diphenhydramine is less expensive than doxylamine. People usually choose diphenhydramine first because it causes a more negligible hangover effect and is milder than doxylamine.
Melatonin is safe for most people to take every night for one or two months if you think it might help. After that, you should stop and see how well you sleep. Make sure you relax before bed, keep the lights low, and sleep in a cool, dark room for best results.
It is a good idea to avoid using screens before bedtime. It includes TVs, computers, and phones. You can try using room-darkening shades, earplugs, or a fan to help you sleep better. You might also want to do calming activities before bedtime, like taking a bath or using relaxation techniques.