The best sleep aid is obviously the one that works well for you. This is a look at the prescription sleep aids, OTC sleep medications, herbal sleep remedies and lifestyle changes that have worked well for others.

Prescription Sleep Medications


The prescription medications for insomnia or occasional difficulty sleeping are referred to as hypnotics. Popular ones include Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta and Trazodone, although there are many others.

There are two basic classes; benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for anxiety disorders. They are
not recommended for long term use, because tolerance to them develops
over time, requiring a larger and larger dose to feel the desired

They interfere with the natural structure, quality and restfulness of
sleep. A number of road traffic accidents have been attributed to the
use of these drugs.

Lady sleeping with head on pillow

Tolerance to non-benzodiazepines develops over time, too. But, it
takes longer. Safety and/or effectiveness of the drugs for long term
use have not been proven.

Other drugs sometimes prescribed for insomnia include melatonin
agonists, which work by assisting the body’s production and use of the
hormone melatonin. Normally, it is this hormone that helps us fall asleep.

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids

Nytol, Tylenol PM and Advil PM contain antihistamines, as does
Benadryl, which some people feel is the best sleep aid. Antihistamines
are most often prescribed to treat allergy symptoms; itching, sneezing,
etc. But, they also have hypnotic and sedative activity.

Nyquil, which is a nighttime cold reliever, is primarily flavored
alcohol. Alcohol does induce a state of drowsiness, but can also be
addictive and interfere with natural sleep cycles.

Herbal Sleep Aids

Herbal sleep aids are a great alternative to sleeping pills.

Like a cup of warm milk, only better, a warm cup of herbal tea, 30-60
minutes before bedtime, may make you drowsy enough to fall asleep.
Passionflower is one of the herbs commonly recommended for this purpose.
It may also have natural antidepressant activity, as it inhibits the
breakdown of one of the brain’s feel good chemicals, serotonin.

Valerian is another herb that some people feel is the best sleep aid.
It has a mild sedative effect and also helps to lower blood pressure,
which normally occurs as a person is sleeping. In one study, valerian
combined with Melissa officinalis extract was just as effective as
benzodiazepine in people with insomnia. This combination is found in
some of the herbal sleep aids on the market.

Jamaica dogwood is another herbal sleep remedy that can be combined
with valerian. It has some natural pain-relieving activity. So, it is
particularly helpful when an injury or general aches and pains are
keeping you awake.

Many herbalists say that chamomile is the best sleep aid. The tea is a
mild sedative. It relieves spasms and some aches and pains. It can be
taken by mouth, added to a warm bath or the essential oils can be used
in aromatherapy.

Nutrition and Sleep

The B vitamins, 5 HTP, tryptophan and melatonin
are some of the nutrients that could be the best sleep aid for you. If
you have trouble sleeping, it could be because you are not getting
enough protein or essential amino acids during the day. Amino acids are
necessary for the body to produce serotonin and melatonin.

Melatonin is sold over the counter as a dietary supplement. It works
for some people, but not for others. There is some question about
whether or not it can cross the blood/brain barrier when taken orally.
The same is true of tryptophan.

5 HTP is converted within the body into tryptophan which then becomes
serotonin. Low blood levels are associated with insomnia and
depression. Like melatonin and tryptophan, it is sold over the counter
as a dietary supplement. But, 5 HTP is believed to be more effective,
because it can cross the blood/brain barrier.

Other Approaches

The NightWave Sleep Assistant
emits a soft blue light. The luminance of the light slowly rises and
falls. You learn to synchronize your breathing with the rise and fall of
the light. The light shuts off automatically after a time. You may fall
asleep before that happens. Focusing on the light allows you to escape
the buzzing thoughts responsible for keeping you awake. It is almost
hypnotic. If you wake in the middle of the night, you can reset the
device and get back to sleep. See Also: NightWave Review, NightWave Blue Light Sleep Aid Works, Get To Sleep With The Night Wave Sleep Assistant, Heard of the Night Wave Sleep Assistant?

Sleeping in a cool, dark room, with no television or other
distractions might be the best sleep aid of all. Artificial light
interferes with the body’s natural production of melatonin. It
interferes with our ability to fall asleep. So, turn off the lights and
see what happens.

What’s Your Best Sleep Aid Tip?

What do you do when you can’t get to sleep? What’s the best sleep aid for you? Share your tip…


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