Some people may need
nonprescription sleeping pills from time to time to
help them fall asleep. Examples of sleep medicines available without a
prescription include Nytol, Sominex, and Sleep-Eze. All of these contain
diphenhydramine, which is a type of antihistamine. Using an over-the-counter
medicine now and then is okay. But sleep medicine works best as a short-term
treatment combined with lifestyle and behavior changes.
over-the-counter sleep medicines can be used safely for 7 to 10 days. Read and
follow all instructions on the label.
Talk to your doctor before you take over-the-counter sleep medicine if:
You are or could be pregnant, or you are
You take other medicines (with or without a
prescription) to help you sleep or to treat other health problems.
When you take over-the-counter sleeping pills for a short
time, side effects may include:
Over time, using sleeping pills can:
Hide the real reason for poor sleep, such as a
Make you feel less alert the next day.
Cause other health problems, such as anxiety, depression, blurred
vision, loss of appetite, or nausea.
Cause serious medical problems
when you take them with alcohol or drugs.
Become habit-forming and lead to dependence. When this happens,
your sleep problems may get worse when you stop taking the medicine.
There are other ways to improve your sleep besides using
medicine. Talk to your doctor about lifestyle and behavior changes you can try
to help you sleep.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.