Emotional Wellbeing


Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

3 Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids to Counter Insomnia

The average person needs 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to allow their body to fully rest and recuperate. However, if they have insomnia, getting some shut-eye can be a challenge. There are ways to counter insomnia though. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that disrupts people’s circadian rhythm. People who suffer from this condition have trouble sleeping, have difficulty getting quality sleep, or aren’t sleeping enough.

Insomnia can be caused by several different factors. Some of the most common include stress and anxiety, mental health conditions, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and a poor sleeping environment.

The good news is that the symptoms of insomnia can be treated through a variety of methods. For some people, drinking calming teas, meditating, and sticking to a strict sleep schedule are enough to curb the symptoms of insomnia. For others, however, taking over-the-counter sleep aids produces better results.

Over-the-counter sleep aids work by blocking certain chemicals in the brain, creating a sedative effect. This helps people with insomnia feel drowsy and get a good, long sleep. Because they’re over-the-counter sleep aids, they can be purchased at any drugstore or online pharmacy Philippines-based doctors trust without any need for a doctor’s prescription.

If you’re suffering from insomnia, here are three over-the-counter sleep aids you can take:


Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the human body to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. At night, the body’s natural melatonin levels increase to get us ready for bedtime. If you’re struggling with insomnia, your body might not be producing enough melatonin to make you fall asleep.

To help restore your body’s normal melatonin levels, you can take melatonin capsules, tablets, or gummies. These supplements are synthetic versions of the natural hormone, but they work just like natural melatonin to correct your sleep-wake cycle. Aside from insomnia sufferers, melatonin sleep aids can also be beneficial for people who are experiencing jet lag and doing shift work.


Although antihistamines are mainly used to treat symptoms of allergies, some types of antihistamines can be taken to promote sleep. Sedating antihistamines—sometimes called first-generation antihistamines—contain ingredients that function like sleeping aids. Some examples of sedating antihistamines include diphenhydramine, doxylamine, and cyclizine.


Valerian is an herb that’s often marketed and sold as a dietary supplement, but can also be used as a sleep aid. It’s available in many forms, such as capsules, teas, and liquids, making them suitable for people who don’t want to take over-the-counter sleep aid pills or tablets.

Do note that further study still needs to be made to prove the efficacy of valerian. Nevertheless, some researchers believe that valerian can treat insomnia due to its interaction with our GABA, serotonin, and adenosine receptors.

Things to Keep in Mind

Before you head down to the nearest pharmacy and grab some over-the-counter sleep aids, there are a few important things you have to keep in mind. For one, you shouldn’t treat these sleep aids as miracle drugs that can magically make your insomnia disappear. They should serve as short-term solutions that must be accompanied by natural sleep remedies to beat insomnia in the best way possible.

You should also consider the following factors before you start taking any over-the-counter sleep aids:

Building a Tolerance of Sleep Aids

One of the dangers of the long-term use of sleep aids to battle insomnia is that your body can develop a tolerance to them over time. This means that the recommended dosages of these sleep aids won’t be enough to treat insomnia symptoms; eventually, you might have to raise the doses to get the same effects. It’s never a good idea to exceed the recommended dose on the sleep aid’s packaging as it can be dangerous to your health.

Side Effects That May Occur

Over-the-counter sleep aids come with a variety of side effects and risks. Depending on the kind of sleep aid you’re taking, you may experience one or more of the following:

  • Melatonin side effects and risks: Nausea, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, melatonin overdose.


  • Antihistamine side effects and risks: Drowsiness, dry mouth, blurry vision, constipation, urinary hesitancy.


  • Valerian side effects and risks: Drowsiness, dizziness, headaches.


Level of FDA Approval

Of the three sleep aids on this list, melatonin and valerian aren’t strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is because they’re dietary supplements, which are classified under food and not medicines. As a result, their compositions may vary by brand and every product may produce different results.

Consulting Your Healthcare Provider Is Important

Over-the-counter sleep aids can help you in combatting the symptoms of insomnia. However, you need to take them properly to feel their effects. That’s why it’s recommended to consult your health care provider first before taking any sleep aids. Asking your doctor about over-the-counter sleep aids will help you determine which type of sleep aid works best for your situation. Your doctor can also tell you whether or not you’re in good condition to take over-the-counter sleep aids. Moreover, if you’re already taking a sleep aid but aren’t feeling any of its benefits, you can talk to your doctor and ask them to recommend you a different type of treatment for your insomnia.

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