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Do Over the Counter Sleeping Pills Work?

Do Over the Counter Sleeping Pills Work?

Mental health is just as important as physical health and both remain the core concern in public health developments. People with mental disorders are said to experience a lesser quality of life than those who do not have mental health issues. Medication is therefore a fundamental method of treatment for many that are ill.

However, not everyone is able to afford prescription medication, and consultation visits to a doctor seem to cost a lot for some. Therefore, most individuals tend to self-medicate with therapeutics that are easily available over the counter. These over the counter medications are cheaper and affordable for those without medical health care plans as well as those who do not wish to use the medication long-term.

Some of the strongest over the counter sleeping pills work just as well as prescription sleeping aids, however, they may be best for impermanent sleeping difficulties. According to Lie et al. (2015), insomnia is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel for Mental Disorders (DSM-V) as a persistent "dissatisfaction of the quantity and quality of sleep that interferes with occupational, social and other important areas of functioning".

Although over the counter sleeping pills aid in inducing sleep, they do not cure insomnia. Insomnia can be caused by a number of factors such as anxiety, depression, chronic and acute pain, and other related health conditions. Over the counter sleeping aids work to the best of its ability to remedy short-term insomnia and sleeping difficulties.

Examples of Over the Counter Sleeping Pills

There are wide varieties of sleeping pills that are available without a prescription that range from less strong to strong, and are recommended depending on severity of sleeping difficulties. The strongest over the counter sleeping pill can be used to treat sleeping difficulties that more persistent while the less strong may be used for sleeping difficulties that occur seldom.

A study conducted in Saudi Arabia (SA) found that the most popular non-prescription sleeping pills included antihistamines, Panadol night, Adol pm, Melatonin, hypnotic anti-anxiety, anti-allergic, and anti-depressant medication.

Other common sleeping aids include diphenhydramine hydrochlorides (50mg) and diphenhydramine citrates (76mg) which are FDA approved and are antihistamines with sedative effects. Doxylamine succinate, however, is also a commonly used treatment for sleep, although it is not FDA approved.

These sedatives usually cause side effects such as nausea, daytime drowsiness, constipation and urinary retention. These different types of over the counter sleeping pills used are usually for the treatment of other medical conditions; however, they have been used commonly for its sedative effects.

How Long Do Over the Counter Sleeping Pills Take to Leave my System?

Sleep is an essential part of human development and growth and sleep deprivation may result in a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, cognitive impairments and other conditions that may reduce the quality of life.

Therefore using sleeping pills to induce sleep is one of the best ways to combat troublesome sleeping patterns. Sleeping come in extended-release or immediate-release forms and is usually recommended for those having trouble falling asleep, maintaining sleep and frequent awakenings during the night.

Sleeping pills have a short onset period of about 15 to 60 minutes and are eliminated from the body depending on the type of pill used. The effects of the immediate-release tablet usually last for about 5 to 6 hours, while extended-release lasts for about 8 hours.

During these hours, one will experience sedation and will be able to fall and stay asleep, provided there are no interruptions. However, if there are night time disturbances that may cause one to awake, sublingual tablets can be of use as they have a short onset period and do not produce effects for as long as the other forms of sleeping tablets.

Even after desired effects are experienced, the medication may still be detected in urine and blood. Hence, some individuals experience daytime drowsiness the next day. Sleeping pills can be detected in urine between 1-2 days after use and in blood between 6 to 20 hours. Thus, individuals should not use this medication if they are to engage in driving, handling machinery or tools.

Can I Use Other Medication with Over the Counter Sleeping Pills?

Medications are the most widely used form of therapy in the world and serve to reduce or relieve ailments experienced. Some medications work together to create even greater effects while others may not work well together.

Generally, other sedatives and hypnotics should be avoided when using sleeping pills because the interaction may cause over sedation and an increase in intensity of both therapeutics. The risk of adverse side effects will increase and the individual may experience hallucinations, intense nausea and vomiting, headaches, and stomach aches. If use is prolonged then they may also suffer the long-term side effects of sedative-hypnotics.

Studies have shown that alcohol may interact with some over the counter sleeping pills and more importantly prescription options. Sedatives are not recommended to be used with the substance due to side-effects. Alcohol-medication interactions can modify either the metabolism or activity of the medication. Alcohol-sedative interactions have shown that the substance increases central nervous system (CNS) depression - causing drowsiness, dizziness and sedation.

This may cause psychomotor impairment and confusion and may be dangerous for the individual. Painkillers, on the other hand, may be used together with sleeping pills; however, the correct dose must be taken to avoid adverse effects.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Over the Counter Sleeping Pills

When it comes to buying medication over the counter, there are some pros and cons that individuals should be aware of. Over the counter (OTC) sleeping pills are best if you want to enjoy a good night's sleep. Below are advantages and disadvantages you can consider when you decide to buy the best sleeping pills over the counter:


  • Low-income individuals are able to afford non-prescription medication, especially if they do not have any medical aid or medical health plans.
  • Over the counter medication are easily available and you do not need a prescription.
  • People who purchase non-prescription sleeping pills do not have to spend money on doctor consultation fees.
  • Pharmacists can be of assistance when choosing the best sleeping pill for you.
  • Great for occasional insomnia or other sleeping difficulties.


  • One may choose to purchase the wrong sleeping pill that may cause adverse effects.
  • Because of its easy accessibility, those who have a tendency to addiction may become dependent on the medication.
  • Insomnia or persistent sleeping difficulties may not get cured.
  • Studies have shown a high risk of stroke for those who overuse OTC sleeping medication.

If you have been suffering from insomnia for a prolonged period of time it is advised that you opt for strong sleeping pills rather than over the counter sleeping pills, as these are clinically proven to induce sleep quickly in adults with sleeping problems. Check out zopicloneuk.com to view our full list of medication which we have made available over the counter without a prescription!

Christine Mullins – Sep 27, 2021
The medication available here is much more effective that what is available over the counter. Excellent blog. The medication available here is just as good as their advice. Christine Mullins

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