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How Do Sleeping Pills Work?

How Do Sleeping Pills Work?

How Do Sleeping Pills Work? (Types + Side Effects Explained)

Sleeping pills are a type of medication that is meant to help you sleep better. They are made with a great variety of different ingredients that may have different effects on your body. 

If you are struggling with insomnia, sleeping pills may offer you the relief you’ll need. In this guide, you’ll learn about some of the options that are available over the counter. 

This guide will only cover over-the-counter medications that are approved for use without a prescription. If you have a serious medical need, you should talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you.

Melatonin

Melatonin is one of the most popular over-the-counter sleep aids, and it is available in many different forms. It is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that is involved in managing night-and-day cycles.

Some companies claim that by supplementing with their melatonin medications, you can signal to your body that it is time to rest. Melatonin is often used by people with mild irregular insomnia, mild body pain, or restlessness. 


Melatonin is widely available in capsules and tablets. You can also find it in liquid and gummy form.

Side effects

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There are some known side effects of taking melatonin. It’s important to remember that any kind of sleep aid may make you drowsy. People who have used melatonin in the past have also reported the following side effects:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

You should always ask your doctor if you experience new or worsening symptoms while you’re taking an over-the-counter sleep aid.

FAQs about melatonin

  • How long does it take melatonin to kick in? You may feel the effects of melatonin anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours after you take the supplement. 
  • Is it safe to take melatonin regularly? Most experts recommend that you do not take melatonin for extended periods of time. This may disrupt the production of melatonin in your body, making it harder for you to adjust back to sleep without supplementation. 
  • Can children take melatonin? Melatonin should not be given to children that are younger than age 3. It’s a good idea to speak to your doctor before you give any medications to your child, even if they are recommended.

Diphenhydramine

Diphenhydramine is widely used as an antihistamine. It is an ingredient in some over-the-counter sleep aids because of the sedative effects. If allergies are keeping you up at night, this medication may be especially helpful.

Side effects

In addition to the mildly sedative effects, this medication has been reported to cause some of the following side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dry mouth, nose, and throat
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision

Some side effects are serious and may point to an allergic reaction. Speak to your doctor if you experience any of these side effects:

  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Skin rash

Avoid using diphenhydramine medications that have been formulated for allergies as sleep aids. If you can’t find sleep aids with this active ingredient near you, online stores may offer some alternatives. 

FAQs about diphenhydramine

  • Should I avoid mixing alcohol with diphenhydramine? You should absolutely avoid drinking alcohol while you are using diphenhydramine as a sleep aid. Both medications are known to cause dehydration, and the combination of both of them could cause you to experience dehydration rapidly. 
  • Can I take diphenhydramine and ibuprofen at the same time? At this time, there is not a known interaction between these two active ingredients. Remember that this does not mean that there are no interactions, just that none have been revealed by research. 
  • How long can I safely use diphenhydramine? You should avoid using any medication for longer than a few days until you speak to your doctor. Using diphenhydramine for more than 2 weeks could put you at greater risk.

Doxylamine

Doxylamine is a medication that is used to treat short-term symptoms of insomnia. Like diphenhydramine, it is also used in some anti-allergy medications. It also owes some of its sedative properties to its antihistamine effects.


This medication is widely available in tablet form. It can be purchased over the counter in most locations, and you can find doxylamine for sale online.

Side effects of doxylamine

Doxylamine has been associated with some mild side effects including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • stomach upset
  • blurred vision
  • decreased coordination
  • dry mouth/nose/throat

It is possible to be allergic to this medication. You should speak to a doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction. Any hallucinations or mood-related symptoms should also be investigated as soon as possible.

FAQs about doxylamine

  • How long does doxylamine take to work? The brand name of doxylamine is reported to begin working within 30 minutes of being taken. The effects last up to a few hours after the medication has been taken.
  • Does doxylamine have interactions with other drugs? This medication can have some serious interactions with pain killers, valerian, and some other drugs. Speak to a doctor if you currently take painkillers for any reason.

Choose the Right Sleeping Pills for You

Now you know some of the sleeping pill options that are out there. You also know some of the side effects that are associated with sleeping pills. Finally, you have answers to some of the top questions about each popular active ingredient.

Use what you’ve learned to choose the best sleeping pills for your minor insomnia.

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