Over the counter sleep aids and medications help in relieving occasional sleeplessness in people. As the name implies, over the counter (OTC) sleep refers to a rampant sleep disorder, which causes excessive sleepiness as a result of excessive sleeplessness. Most OTC sleep aids and products contain antihistamines such as doxylamine, and are sold as nighttime sleep aids. Antihistamines are drugs or compounds that inhibit physiological effects of histamine. They are most commonly used for treating allergies. However, they are preferably used to help people sleep.
There are numerous sleep aids in the market, some of which contain cold and pain medications. Looking for and choosing the appropriate product is always a challenge. It is advisable to consult a healthcare provider before deciding which OTC product to use. In particular, people need to be more careful if they are also taking other medications which have the risk of having drug interactions.
Side Effects of Antihistamines Used In Over the Counter Sleep Aids / Products
- Coordination problems
- Dry throat and mouth
- Reduced reflexes
Whenever such side effects occur and persist, one should immediately contact a physician or healthcare provider. Sometimes people also suffer of blurry vision and have difficulty urinating.
Over the Counter Sleep Aids & Medication Problems
OTC sleep medications are generally more effective when used in moderation, and for shorter periods of time. If not properly used, OTC sleep aids have the tendency of causing different sleep and medication problems. Some problems that may occur are:
Tolerance of drug
People develop the tolerance to medications overtime. This means that they may need to increase the dosage of the medication for it to be effective. With over the counter sleep aids, the probability of this occurring in less than a week is highly expected. Increasing the dosage is equally dangerous, as it increases the risk of side effects.
People become very addicted to OTC medications and find it difficult to go to sleep without them.
Increased Side Effects
All sleep medications have side effects. The use of OTC sleep medications increases the occurrence of side effects. The most common side effect of OTC sleep aids and medications is drowsiness, which interferes with daily tasks such as driving.
OTC sleep medications interact with other medications, and lead to very dangerous medications. The intake of alcohol should also be stopped during OTC sleep medications, as it worsens side effects to a great extent.
Taking OTC medications for long periods and stopping them abruptly make sleep problems worse than before.
Using OTC Medications for the Wrong Conditions
People may be having an underlying condition that may be causing agitation or sleeplessness. The use of over the counter sleep aids and medications may not help the condition in such a case.
Better Sleep Tips
The following tips are suggested by the U.S food and drug administration (FDA) for people having sleep troubles:
- Avoiding the intake of alcohol, wine, beer, liquor, nicotine and caffeine 4 to 6 hours before bedtime
- Going to bed at the same time everyday
- Not to exercise 2 hours prior to bedtime
- Not eating heavy meals within 2 hours before bedtime
- Not napping later than 3 pm in the afternoon
- Sleeping in a room with ideal temperature (not too hot or too cold)
Over the Counter Sleep Aids – Different Types
Many people face the problem of not being able to sleep these days. So instead of wasting time battling with the problem, people decide to go for over the counter sleep aid medications. Before getting an OTC sleep aid, people need to know for sure whether they really do have sleep problems. Sometimes people cannot go to sleep at night, and conclude they are having a sleep disorder. However, the real problem may not even be related to sleep disorders, and may instead be something related to an undiagnosed medical condition. Due to this, some people end up taking OTC sleep medications for no reason. These medications are very addictive, and hence, it is very important for one to fully understand the consequences lying behind their use.
There are various OTC sleep aid pills available for use, which ensure that people are able to go to sleep at night. Many of the brands are good to use, but the important thing is to find one that is suitable and works well with the body. The medications should be stopped immediately once there are any signs of allergies or problems when taking them. A healthcare provider should be consulted to help find the right medication to be used. The use of sleep aids is not an option for everyone, especially when people are suffering of insomnia, it is important that they are well diagnosed before they start taking any medications to treat sleep problems. People have the choice of dealing with their sleep related problems with the right types of over the counter sleep aids, once they are diagnosed accurately.