Are there any over the counter sleeping aids that work?

This question was asked in Irvine, California on 02/02/2012.
Do any over the counter sleeping aids actually work? Or do other methods like sleep studies and sleep medication have to be administered?

Doctors Answers (2)

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 2/2/2012 2

No, over the counter sleep aid should not be used with any regularity. Self-medication with these drugs is never a good idea. If a sleep problem i.e. insomnia persists greater than 1 month, then seeing a doctor to discuss this is advisable.

Over-the-counter sleep medications commonly contain an antihistamine. There is limited research available on these agents. They typically shorten the time to fall sleep but they may alter the sleep architecture such as suppressing REM sleep. There are often issues with hangover effect producing daytime sedation and the development of tolerance (requiring higher does to produce the same effect).