Each year, more and more Americans are suffering from long-term insomnia. People become desperate to get a good night’s sleep. Many of them will end up trying to cure their insomnia with over-the-counter sleep aids. But these OTC sleep aids are not harmless little pills as many believe.
What most people do not realize is that these drugs are meant only for short-term use as a sleep treatment to reduce occasional bouts of insomnia. An over the counter sleep aid will only help you to fall asleep, not stay asleep. And it almost always makes you groggy and feeling hung over the next day – even though you've had nothing alcoholic to drink.
Also, these sleep aids are dangerously addictive. People often develop a tolerance to them in only a few days. The side effects of these drugs can be severe and frightening. For example, there have been many occurrences of sleepwalking, sleep-related driving, and sleep-related eating caused by sleep medications.
Plus, they often contain ingredients like pain relievers and antihistamines that are not designed for sleep – you may not want or need these ingredients. One pain reliever that is common in sleep aids is acetaminophen, which is known to cause liver damage. Another pain reliever found in most sleep medications is ibuprofen, which may cause stomach bleeding.
Antihistamines In Over The Counter Sleep Aids
The main ingredient found in most over the counter sleep aids is an antihistamine. Usually, antihistamines are taken for allergies.
While some patients claim that antihistamines do indeed help them to sleep better, this effect has not been proven through research or clinical studies. They may have a mild, positive effect on minor, short-term insomnia, but the side effects, like drowsiness and headaches, are usually common and severe.
The most common side effects of OTC sleep aids include drowsiness, dizziness, forgetfulness, blurred vision, clumsiness and feeling off-balance, dry mouth and throat, and constipation and urinary retention.
Are Over The Counter Sleeping Aids Effective?
In a word … NO!
This may seem like too simple of an answer to someone who is desperately seeking that elusive night of deep sleep, but it’s true: over the counter sleep aids simply are not effective.
In fact, extended use of these medications has been proven to actually exacerbate insomnia!
It has also been proven that the sleep that is experienced when using over-the-counter sleeping aids is not of the same quality as normal sleep. Research has shown that most people who take these drugs spend as little as 5% of their total sleep time in deep sleep, as compared to approximately 20% for healthy sleepers.