Don’t let Over-The –Counter Sleep Aides Get You Hooked

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Posted in Wikinut>Health>Alternative Medicine

OTC sleep aides are frequently being used long-term complete with dangers instead of complementary approaches without the dangers.


Millions of Americans have trouble sleeping in fact 40 million Americans have a chronic sleep disorder, 62 percent have trouble sleeping a few nights a week and 30 percent have insomnia in the course of any year. In total 70 million people suffer from insomnia. Sleep related difficulties can interfere with mental and physical health such as remembering things and high blood pressure.

Sleep Aides

Having trouble sleeping? Need to get some sleep? Do you find yourself reaching for that over-the-counter sleep aide? You’re not alone. A 2015 Consumer Reports national survey of 4,023 adults revealed concerning results. In an effort to improve sleep 20 percent of those surveyed took an OTC drug within the past year and almost 18 percent had taken one daily. And the most shocking of results 41 percent used an OTC for a year or longer.

The Problem

Diphenhydramine found in sleep aides is a sedating antihistamine that can cause constipation, confusion, dizziness and next-day drowsiness. There is also the “hang-over” effect – impaired balance, coordination and being drowsy while driving the day after taking the drug which raises the risk for falls and accidents. Some surveys and reports have associated diphenhydramine to recreational abuse and dependency.

Complementary Approaches

Research has shown promising results when it comes to deal with sleep problems The 2002 National Health Interview Survey found Americans are most likely to use CAM therapies for several health conditions which included sleep problems. The following are some of the therapies used for sleep problems.


Research presented at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies showed that Kriya Yoga a meditation technique improved sleep the onset of sleep, total sleep and wake time, sleep efficacy and quality was shown to be an effective therapy for insomnia.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, April 2015, found meditation to be a remedy for moderate sleep disturbances, moderate sleep problems and sleep-related daytime impairment.


A study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found relaxing classical music is an effective intervention in reducing sleep problems. The study looked at students between the ages of 19 and 28. Another study published in the same journal found listening to sedative music tapes was an effective intervention for sleep in older adults.
A study in the Journal of Music Therapy found elementary school children listening to the background of a 45 minute music CD at nap-time every day and at bedtime every night results in significant improvements of sleep duration and efficiency.


A National Health Interview Survey found that among Americans who practice yoga 55 percent reported improvements in sleep. Another study in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback January 2005, found that the practice of yoga improves sleep efficiency, total sleep time, onset of sleep, total wake time.


A 2005 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics looked at 221 chiropractic patients revealed one-third of the patients reported immediate effects on sleep after having an adjustment.
Chiropractic patients have noted restful sound sleep after adjustments.


There have been several clinical studies in which found auricular acupuncture is effective in reducing symptoms of insomnia such as falling and remaining asleep. In elderly people with sleep disturbances, clinical studies have indicated acupressure improves sleep quality, decreases the number of times awakening in the night.

Tai Chi

A study published in the Journal Sleep July 2008, included 112 healthy older adults between the ages of 59 and 86 who were randomly assigned to either classes in healthy lifestyle that included sleep hygiene or Tai chi moves for 25 weeks. Those who took tai chi had shown improvements in the quality of their sleep on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Tai chi helps relieve stress or anxiety which is common causes of insomnia. A 2008 UCLA study on Tai chi and sleep found those who practice Tai chi had shorter onset of sleep, felt more rested, overall better sleep quality, slept longer at night and had a greater amount of sleep.


A study published in Nursing in Critical Care July 27, 2015, examined the effects of aromatherapy for sleep quality and anxiety in critical care patients. Patients through inhalation received lavender essential oil for 15 days. The results revealed lavender essential oil increased quality of sleep and reduced level of anxiety. In randomized studies lavender improved sleep quality in healthy students, in ischemic heart disease patients, and women in midlife. In a study of hospitalized patients the smell of lavender improved daytime wakefulness and more sustained sleep.


A few studies suggest that Valerian Root may help with the onset of sleep. Chamomile traditionally known to help those suffering with insomnia. Chamomile is generally safe but does interfere with some medications. If you are allergic to asters, daisies, chrysanthemums, or ragweed, you may also be allergic to chamomile. Early evidence suggests kava may improve sleep quality and decrease the amount of time for sleep onset. Other herbs can treat sleeplessness and are safer. Kava has serious side effects.
Several studies have shown lemon balm combined with calming herbs such as chamomile helps to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. There have been few studies that have looked at lemon balm solely.
One study found 5-HTP had helped people fall asleep faster and had a deeper sleep. Researchers recommend 200 to 400 mg at night to stimulate serotonin, but it may take 6 to 12 weeks to be fully effective. A few clinical studies found melatonin taken for a short period of time helps reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, increases hours of sleep and promotes daytime alertness.


This article is informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.
Do not stop taking any medication without asking your professional healthcare provider. Always alert your healthcare provider and/or alternative practitioner about herbs and supplements you may be taking. Certain herbs and supplements can cause an interaction with medications.
Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider or qualified provider with any concerns you may have about a medical condition. Never disregard medical advice from your healthcare provider or delay going for treatment due to something you may have read.


Statistic Brain
Mayo Clinic
Western Sydney University
Ma Sharda School of Music
National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health
Becker PM. Chronic insomnia: outcome of hypnotherapist intervention in six cases. Am J Clin Hypn 1993;36:98-105.)
Jamison, JR. Insomnia: does chiropractic help? - J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2005 (Mar-Apr); 28(3): 179-86
University of Maryland Medical Center
Scott, P. (2008, October 9). How Tai Chi can help you sleep better. . Retrieved from
Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Tai Chi for Life


Alternative Medicine, Chiropractic, Complementary Medicine, Herbs, Insomnia, Mind And Body, Sleep Aides

Meet the author

author avatar authordeb
Author of the Love and Laughter series
Alternative Medicine Practitioner
Freelance Health Write
Works with Media companies for interviews and articles such as Howie Mandel for Afib,

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