Getting regular quality is hugely important for you to function optimally throughout the day. You know when you've had a good nights sleep, because you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to attack the day. You will be fully of energy, but this is not the case if you regularly have trouble sleeping.
When you have a bad nights sleep, you wake up feeling sluggish and groggy and you don't have the same optimism for the upcoming day. You also find it harder to interact with people as you're more irritable and generally you aren't as nice to be around.
For people that have trouble sleeping the first action they take is to purchase an over the counter sleeping aid. There are dozens of different brands on the market so it can be daunting when it comes to making a decision. We have created a guide to show you the best sleeping pills and aids to help you get the best nights sleep.
What are Over the Counter Sleeping Pills?
Over the counter sleeping aids are unique formulations with active ingredients that help you to fall asleep. These ingredients are weaker than those found in prescription strength pills, however many people feel safer using over the counter sleeping pills as the first step before visiting the doctor.
Types Of Over the Counter Sleeping Pills
The most powerful sleeping aids use antihistamine diphenhydramine as the active key ingredient which promotes drowsiness which makes you feel tired. This is the most effective ingredient for OTC sleeping pills and the majority of the top performing products contain it. There are two commonly used Antihistamines:
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the body which helps you to keep a regular sleeping cycle. Production is triggered by darkness and its levels uplift throughout the night until morning light causes it to decrease.
By taking Melatonin in medicine form it encourages your body to stick to this sleeping cycle. This is especially effective for people with jet lag or those who have irregular shift patterns.
Herbal Pills (Valerian)
Valerian is a herb that has been used for sedation for hundreds of years for anxiety and insomnia. It works by increasing the production of GABA, a calming chemical within the body,
Herbal sleep remedies are the still one of the most effective solutions available and they have a lighter effect, so you avoid the next day drowsy feeling. They are useful if you find Antihistamines to be too powerful.
Other herbs that have sedating or calming effects include, Chamomile, Kava, Lavender, Passionflower,Lemon balm and Tryptophan.
Why You Should Avoid Antihistamines
The main problem with antihistamine sleeping pills is that their sedating properties will often be felt well into the following day which gives you a hangover feeling. So even though you may have a relaxing sleep you'll wake feeling groggy. If you use them long term, they can cause headaches and forgetfulness. This is why health professions advise against regular long term use.
Common side effects of antihistamine sleeping pills
- Moderate to severe drowsiness the following day
- Forgetfulness and dizziness
- Clumsiness and lack of balance
- Urinary retention and constipation
- Blurred vision
- Dry throat and mouth
For these reasons we recommend that the over the counter sleeping pills you purchase should be Valerian and Melatonin based so you can avoid all these potential common side effects.
Because Valerian and Melatonin are natural, there are very few potential side effects and they are very rare especially when you don't use them long term.
How to Stay Safe
Although over the counter sleeping aids are heavily regulated by the authorities, if you do decide to try them, please be aware of the following guidelines:
Do not mix sleeping pills with other sedative drugs or alcohol
Alcohol has been proven to negatively affect quality of sleep, and it will also increase the sedative effect of sleeping pills. Combining the two is dangerous and should be avoided
Ensure you have enough time for a full sleep
Only take sleeping pills if you have enough time to sleep for a full 7-8 hours. If you don't you may still feel the effects of the sleeping pills when you wake such as drowsiness.
Only take 1 dose
It may be tempting, but don't ever take a second dose during the middle of the same night. This will give your body less time to clear the medication from your system, and the next day you may feel groggy and find it challenging to wake up.
Start with lowest recommended dose
It is always recommended to start with the lowest recommended does to assess how the medication affects your body and any side effects that you experience as a result.
Avoid using frequently
Sleeping pills should not be used daily as you can develop a dependancy to them. To lower the risk of adverse effects, save them for when you really need them.
Do not drive cars or operate machinery
This is even more important if you have just started taking sleeping pills for the first time as you have no idea how they will affect your body.
Read packaging carefully
Although it is an over the counter medication, it is still advised that you read the packaging carefully and pay attention to any potential side effects that could occur following ingestion. For many sleeping pills there are certain foods that must be avoided such as grapefruit. Don't be lazy, always read the packaging.
1. Vita Fusion Sleepwell Gummy Aid Review
Vitafusion has been developed by Sleepwell, a well known vitamin and supplement company based in the USA. It has been formulated using 3mg of Melatonin in addition to natural ingredients including Chamomile, Lemon balm and Passion flower.
Melatonin isn't quite as powerful as prescription or antihistamine sleeping aids, however it works in a much different way. Instead of instantly knocking you to sleep, it boosts an already present hormone which helps you maintain a regular sleeping pattern which is ideal especially for long term insomnia sufferers.
These come in the form of soft gummies which makes them perfect for people who have a hard time swallowing tablets. as they are easy to chew and swallow whilst they also have no unpleasant after taste.
The gummies are made with all natural colours and tasty flavours. Although this product is fairly new to the UK, it has built up a strong reputation in the US and has millions of people now use this product to improve their quality of sleep.
Benefits of VitaFusion SleepWell Gummies
- Soft and easy to chew gummies
- Contains many natural ingredients proven to aid sleep
- Made with all natural colours and flavourings
- Large amount of positive reviews
It's clear to see from online reviews that the VitaFusion gummies really do work in making it easier to get to sleep which results in sleep quality improving. They are extremely affordable so you have nothing to lose by trying them. This is our choice as the best sleeping pills.
2. PlantoCaps 100% Natural Sleeping Pills Review
Produced by a UK based company by the name of PlantoCaps, these 100% natural sleeping pills have the main aim of helping you get to sleep quicker and keeping you asleep for longer without disruption.
Serotonin is a hormone that makes you feel happy, relaxed and calm. The more relaxed you are, the easier it is to get to sleep. One of the main ingredients in the sleeping pills is skimmed milk powder which contains Tryptophan, which is the core substance for the production of serotonin.
Milk powder also contains melotonin, the 100% natural hormone that regulated your sleeping cycle. Honey is also included in the sleeping pills which prevent any stimulating components from being triggered. All you need to do is take 2 capsules 30 minutes before bed.
Benefits of PlantoCaps 100% Natural Sleeping Pills
- 100% natural
- Actively works to relax your body enabling you to fall asleep
- UK manufactured in a ISO 22000 certified factory which is subject to the highest hygienic and quality standards
- Extremely positive reviews
- Takes effect in just 30 minutes
The PlantoCaps sleeping pills are slightly more expensive than its competitors but it has proven to be highly effective with very strong reviews from around the country.
It's price is justified because it is an all natural product and only contains: skimmed milk powder (lactose-free), honey powder, Melissa extract powder and cellulose powder. This means you are highly unlikely to suffer from any side effects and not have a groggy feeling when you wake.
3. Swanson Valerian Root Sleeping Herb Review
If you've ever previously bought any type of supplement then you would have heard of Swanson who have built a strong reputation for manufacturing top quality supplements at affordable prices.
Valerian root is an all natural herb that has been used for centuries as a sleeping aid. Valerian extract helps to relax your mind so you can fall to sleep quickly and easily so when you wake in the morning you feel rejuvenated.
Unlike stronger Antihistamines, Valerian will not leave you feeling drowsy in the morning because your body can clear it from your system much more quickly.
Benefits of Swanson Valerian Root Herb
- Proven to aid in improving sleep quality
- Manufactured by a world reknowned company
- Little reported side effects
If you suffer from insomnia then this Valerian extract is definitely worth a try and due to its low selling price, its makes it even more accessible and gives you even more reasons to try it out.
4. Kalms Night Sleeping Pill Review
Kalms is one of the most frequently marketed products in the sleeping aids industry and you have no doubt seen the advertisements all over TV and the radio.
The active ingredient is Valerian root yet again, however it contains 25% less Valerian than the superior Swanson product. Kalms has gained a lot of press and attention within the media, and generally has more positive than negative reviews amongst users.
However you can get much strong formulations for a similar price. Although it is made from a natural herb, it should not be used daily and relied on constantly.
Benefits of Kalms Night Sleeping Pills
- Mixed reviews, everybody reacts differently
- Contains Valerian extract, known to aid sleep
- Little reported side effects
This is definitely a product that you have to try as judging from hundreds of reviews it seems to affect everybody differently. Although it has a low cost, if you're on a low budget it would be wise to try a higher rated product that's on this list for a greater chance of success.
5. Nytol Herbal Sleeping Aid Review
Nytol is another brand that has been subject to much media attention and marketing which has now seen it available for purchase in all high street retailers as they try to position themselves as the best natural sleep aid.
Nytol Herbal tablets are a herbal remedy formulation, that when ingested promote natural sleep, relaxation and calmness. Each pill contains a blend of natural plant extract. Its actual ingredients are Dogwood jamaica 90mg, hops 30mg, wild lettuce dry extract 3:1 15mg. passiflora dry extract 5:1 36mg,
This product has purposely distanced itself from the prescription sleeping pill industry and has labelled it as a sleeping aid. This means that it should be used on occasions when you are struggling to get to sleep, and it will not knock you out. When you wake in the morning you won't have the hangover feeling that Antihistamines often cause.
Benefits of Nytol Herbal Sleeping Aid
- Made from natural ingredients & plant extracts
- Extremely affordable
- Easy to swallow tablets
It's understandable that you may have seen this brand advertised many times which now makes you want to try it. There are several better alternatives listed above however because of its selling price its not an issue to give it a try.
You've now made it to the end of the guide, which means you now have the required knowledge of the best over the counter sleeping pills that are available on the market. You do of course still have the option of drinking more traditional sleep teas.
Whilst over the counter sleeping pills should never be relied on long term, they make a great short term solution to get you back into a regular sleeping cycle.