[Recommendations for] Sleep [aids]

Anybody know a good over the counter sleep aid that actually works good? Or anything else to help me sleep?

Damn money problems!


I can’t touch it or I would.

Benadryl makes you sleepy, but it leaves me with an after effect the next day. It is an antihistamine, and the side effect is drowsiness.

The only other OTC thing I found ever to come close to actually working was Kava Kava, which I believe isn’t for sale anymore in the USA

Speaking as a physician, there are no good, effective medications that induce anything like a normal sleep on a consistent basis, either over the counter or by prescription.

Diphenhydramine (AKA benadryl) helps some folks on a very short-term basis, but rapidly becomes ineffective if used regularly. Of course for other folks, it causes paradoxical hyperalertness instead of sleepiness.

Make more money.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Some people find a mixture of passionflower, skullcap and hops helps them sleep. Tea or tincture (there’s probably a commercial blend called “Sleep Formula” or something at Whole Foods; I make my own, so I haven’t checked). Chamomile tea is a classic at bedtime because it’s gently soothing and just slightly sedative, but I find the passionflower, skullcap and hops combo works better for more people.

I assume you already know to cut out caffeine, all day if possible, but after noon if you can’t resist it in the morning. Don’t eat a huge supper, but a small snack if you’re hungry later is okay. Some people sleep better if there’s noise in the room - music for some, white noise like a fan or air conditioner for others. (Others, of course, sleep best in dead silence.) Do whatever you can to change your environment - and know that while you’re under stress, what worked for you in the past might not work now, and vice-versa. So don’t let “No way, I’ve never been able to sleep with noise!” stop you from trying a fan in your room for a night.

Alcohol induces insomnia in many people, not sleep, and is the last thing I’d use to get to sleep. I take doxylamine, which is in with the otc sleep aids and is cheap. Works great for me.

Yes, it is. The FDA and CDC haven’t had anything negative to say about it since 2002, when a producer in Germany was using an unusual method of extracting the leaves and stems using acetone and/or alcohol, which subsequently led to liver damage and failure in about 2 dozen Europeans. There’s no evidence that Kava *root *extracted by more conventional means (water) is dangerous, and it’s perfectly legal in the US.

I wouldn’t recommend it for a sleep aid, though. Like the green herb that *is *illegal in the US, it can make you drowsy at first but then wake up later unable to get back to sleep.

A good long term sleep aid is meditation, but no one seems too interested in trying it, in spite of how effective, cheap, and easy it is. People is weird.

As I said in another thread, melatonin supplements (like $3 for a 180 day supply) works wonders for me. Without it I get 6 to 16 hours of sleep a week depending on how bad my insomnia is, and with it I get anywhere from 35 to 48.

And the vivid/more plentiful dreams are an added bonus.

What’s “over the counter” depends on the drug laws in your jurisdiction, which you didn’t specify. Antihistamines, alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines are all commonly used to induce sleep, though their availability varies a great deal depending on the particular drug and the laws in your area.

A non-drug remedy that works for some is malted milk. Some commercial brands, such as Horlicks, are even specifically marketed as sleep aids.

I just bought some melatonin and am curious how it works.

Quadop, what are you thoughts on it?

My sister and I both occasionally use doxylamine, which is sold under the brand name Unisom. If you’re going to try it, though, make sure what you have is doxylamine. The Unisom liqui-gels, for instance, are dyphenhydramine (Benadryl) as are just about every other OTC sleep-aid.

My daughter uses this with great success. Her therapist recommended it, saying that recent studies indicate that it’s safe for use in children (my daughter’s 10) up to 3mg per night. She (the therapist) said that sleep disruption is very common in bright, imaginative children who may have trouble ‘turning their brains off’ when laying down to sleep. I give her the melatonin about a half-hour before she gets into bed.

Since the OP is seeking recommendations, this is better suited for IMHO than GQ. I have also edited the title to indicate the subject.

General Questions Moderator

Echoing the melatonin, although I find that it’s more effective for situations in which I’m mentally calm but physically riled up (such as, having exercised shortly before bed) than situations in which worry is keeping me up.

Melatonin is the chemical your brain secretes to tell your body that it’s sleepytime. The OTC pills have a pretty hefty dose in them, compared to what your brain makes.

A recent meta-analysis of melatonin data concludes the following:

So it doesn’t appear to be effective, but it appears safe for occasional use.

Further comments on Melatonin:


It may be helpful for the cognitively disabled.

Hmm. Either a .5 mg dose of melatonin does wonderful placebo effect for me, or I’m retarded. A toss up.
What’s a “secondary sleep disorder”?
I find that Valerian root extract works for me, too. I’m one of those people who occasionally gets the wall-climbing crazies from Benadryl and its ilk.

Diphenhydramine tends to make me hyper but I’ve had good results with occasional use of Chlorpeneramine (Brand name: Chlor Trimeton.)

I’ve tried Melatonin and it did nothing for me. It’s cheap enough to find out though.