Best 5 Over-The-Counter (OTC) Sleep Aids

Adequate sleep is vital to a healthy and happy life. When sleep doesn’t come easily, it can be helpful to seek out an over-the-counter supplement that has been shown to help its users get their needed 7 – 8 hours. This article covers 5 of the best-selling non-prescription sleep aids on the market.

1. Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone that can aid in sleeping and does not require a prescription. Melatonin comes in different strengths; the higher the Mg dosage in each pill, the more potent it will be. Most people will use between 1-3 mgs. to achieve the desired effect. The best way for someone to get the most out of melatonin is to take it 30 minutes before the time they want to be asleep. Once the “sleepy feeling” has set in, it’s important that the user is in bed, ready for sleep. This strong urge top fall asleep will last for about an hour, if the person taking the melatonin is up doing things, they may miss their window of opportunity for falling asleep, because the effects generally only last about sixty minutes.


Melatonin does have a darkening effect on the skin when taken for longer than a week. If age spots or freckles are things the user is trying to fight, it may be best for them to try a different sleep supplement.

2. Tylenol PM

Tylenol PM is an over-the-counter sleep aid and pain reliever. It is a good choice for someone who frequently has trouble falling asleep and is suffering from a headache or bad back because it combines the power of Acetaminophen (a pain reducer) and Diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine is typically a histamine blocker used by allergy sufferers. One of the side effects of Diphenhydramine is drowsiness.

Tylenol PM is not the best choice for someone if they aren’t suffering from both insomnia and pain. It shouldn’t be taken by those who drink wine or other alcoholic drinks before bed, as it may cause liver damage. Anyone with liver problems should avoid this drug because Acetaminophen could worsen the damage. Diphenhydramine has a less serious side effect; it can also cause dry mouth.

3. Zzzquil

ZzzQuil is made by the company that produces NyQuil. ZzzQuil contains no active ingredients for pain relief or fever reduction. Its active ingredient is Diphenhydramine. As stated before, it can also relieve symptoms of allergies and give its user a powerful “sleepy feeling.”


The con remains the same; Diphenhydramine can cause dryness of the eyes or mouth.

4. Unisom Sleep Tablets

Unisom uses another type of histamine blocker called Doxylamine which also causes drowsiness. This is one of the most powerful over-the-counter sleep aids on the market. Because the drowsy feeling can last several hours, it’s not recommended for users who have less than eight hours to devote to sleeping. If the effects don’t have time to wear off, driving or operating machinery could be unsafe.

Doxylamine has been shown to cause headaches and constipation in rare cases.

5. Mason Natural Relax & Sleep Tablets

Mason Natural Relax & Sleep Tablets is an herbal supplement designed to help users fall asleep. It uses three herbal active ingredients: Valerian Root, Passion Flower, and Celery Seed.

Mason Relax & Sleep

Valerian Root has been shown to decrease anxiety and help its users fall asleep fast. Valerian does have possible side effects such as daytime drowsiness, strange dreams, and upset stomach.

Passion Flower is a natural calming agent and can be very useful in relaxing the mind, so sleep comes more easily. In rare instances has been shown to cause odd muscular interactions. Pregnant women should not take Passion Flower, as it could start uterine contractions.

Celery Seed is used to treat a variety of health issues. It can lower blood pressure, relieve muscle aches, and subdue anxiety. Celery Seeds like Passion Flower shouldn’t be used during pregnancy because it too can cause contractions of the uterus.

Although most of the possible side effects of non-prescription sleep aids are rare, they are real. Individuals suffering from insomnia should consult their doctor before taking any new supplement.

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