OTC, Prescription, and Natural Sleep Aids: A Comparison
If you’ve struggled to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up feeling rested, odds are you’ve considered trying a sleep aid. But like any good consumer, you want to do your research first. To help you make a more educated decision, let’s discuss the differences in over-the-counter (OTC), prescription, and natural sleep aids.
OTC sleep aids
OTC sleep aids are what many people try first, as they are readily available at any neighborhood store. These include options like Nytol, Sominex, and Unisom, as well as others like Benadryl, Tylenol PM, and ZzzQuil. Most are marketed specifically for sleep, but others (like Benadryl) are used to treat other ailments, too. Many drugstore options help you fall asleep by using antihistamines. Antihistamines, like diphenhydramine and doxylamine succinate, block histamine, a chemical compound that regulates the cycle of sleeping and waking. Histamine is an important part of our body’s circadian rhythm and is most present when we’re awake. When histamine activity slows down, so does the body. Antihistamine-based sleep aids usually work quickly for those with sleep challenges, which makes it a tempting option. However, because the body takes cues from histamine activity in the body, a sudden block of this important compound forces the body to fall asleep before it’s ready. This can lead to a few side effects, such as next-day grogginess, forgetfulness, and mental fog. OTC sleep aids are also not meant for long-term use, as new research suspects that diphenhydramine may negatively impact cognition and memory.
Prescription sleep aids
Over 13 million Americans use prescription sleep aids. Some of the most common prescription sleep aids include Ambien®, Halcion®, Lunesta®, and Sonata® but there are many others a medical professional may prescribe. Each formula is designed to help people sleep in a different way. In general, though, prescribed sleep medications bind GABA receptors. These are groups of amino acids believed to slow brain signals and activity in your nervous system. Prescription sleep aids bind to GABA receptors and slow brain activity even more to signal relaxation and sleep. Because of their strength, they continue to suppress brain activity throughout the night, which helps people fall (and stay) asleep. The overall strength of these prescription sleep aids can be attractive to people who have struggled with insomnia or other sleep disorders. However, that also means they stay in your system for longer. The result is a potentially long list of side effects, including:
Another concern? Doctors also do not recommend driving the day after taking a prescription sleeping pill. Studies show it can have just as much effect as driving under the influence of alcohol. These medications can have a severe effect on your overall cognition and physical coordination. As a result, most prescription sleeping aids are not for long-term use.
- Excessive sleepiness
- Sweating or shaking
- Nausea or dizziness upon waking
- Trouble remembering things
- Daytime lethargy
- Brain fog and lack of focus
- Problems with physical coordination
Natural sleep aids
Hoping to find a sleep aid that is more gentle on the body and that can be used for longer periods of time? You may be looking for a natural sleeping pill. There are countless options to choose from, including GABA, melatonin, valerian root, magnesium, L-theanine, ginkgo biloba, and more. This is arguably where things get a little confusing — which one is right for you??
It’s important to understand how each natural sleeping pill works before choosing. Note that some natural sleep supplements may help you sleep if you have a deficiency (shortage) in one of those hormones, minerals, or chemical compounds. For people who lack melatonin, for example, a melatonin supplement may help them sleep. However, most sleep challenges aren’t related to a deficiency so much as an imbalance. More specifically, their circadian rhythms are off-balance. In other instances with natural sleep aids, these supplements stimulate relaxation, as we see with CBD (cannabidiol), L-theanine, and GABA. They help to reduce some of the activity in the brain, which helps us sleep. However, this does not always address the root problem, which is that our bodies are out of sync with their sleep and wake cycles. Overall, natural sleep aids may offer fewer side effects than their OTC or prescribed counterparts. Dosage and timing are important to pay attention to, though. People who take natural sleep aids in the wrong doses may notice many of the same side effects as other sleep aids: grogginess, brain fog, mood swings, etc. Taking natural sleep aids at the wrong time may also knock you out before you are ready, or keep you asleep too late. This, of course, pushes your circadian rhythm further out of balance. To prevent that, and to actually strengthen the circadian rhythm, you’ll need RestoreZ.
RestoreZ for natural, balanced sleep
RestoreZ offers a line of natural circadian rhythm sleep aids that help support different sleep issues. We know that your sleep challenges are unique to you, which is why we’ve specially formulated products that support those differences. We use natural ingredients like melatonin and GABA, as well as our Patented Proprietary Circadian Timing Blend. The result is a formula that supports the circadian rhythm, rather than shortcutting it just to catch a few zzz's. Over time, your body will be aligned to its own internal clock, making future sleep challenges less likely. Even short-term sleep obstacles, like jet lag or a new baby, will have less overall impact on your sleep health. Sleep is about more than helping your body relax or just knocking you out entirely. Our circadian rhythm sleep aids do something unique: they help your body re-align to its internal clock. Fall asleep naturally and wake refreshed and alert with our natural circadian rhythm sleep aids. Choose the best sleep product for you.