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How The Best Non-Habit Forming OTC Sleep Aids Can Be Addictive

How The Best Non-Habit Forming OTC Sleep Aids Can Be Addictive

While sleep aids are often referred to as non-habit forming, some people can actually form a dependency for the ‘over the counter’ items that help you drift to sleep. How, may you ask, would the FDA approve something that can cause dependency?

When it comes to treating insomnia or chronic sleep disorders, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine states, “These nonprescription medications are regulated by the FDA as “over-the- counter” (OTC) drugs. FDA-approved OTC sleep aids contain a form of antihistamine as the active ingredient. “Histamine” is a chemical messenger in your brain that promotes wakefulness. Antihistamines typically produce drowsiness by suppressing the activity of histamine.” These OTC sleep aides include:

● Benadryl

● Unisom

● Zzzquil

● Kirkland Sleep Aid

A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine found “frequent, long-term use of OTC sleep medications can be linked to an increased risk for dementia.” When OTC Sleep Aids were first approved, there were no studies or scientific research to show that these drugs can or could cause dependence; hence the reasons these tablets are still labelled "non-habit forming" by the FDA.

The FDA openly states that “using a sleep aid for two weeks or less at the labeled dose makes it ‘very unlikely that the consumer will become dependent on it.’ However, when people are using these sleep aids on a daily basis their body becomes dependent mentally and physically due to the fact that the body discontinues its natural regulation and production of melatonin.

The over the counter sleep aids you might be reaching for are also labelled with side effects, such as: daytime sleepiness, dizziness, reduced alertness, vomiting and headaches. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine there are some very important things to know and consider regarding OTC Sleep Aids before you take them:

● OTC sleep aids that contain antihistamine are approved by the FDA only for “occasional sleeplessness” by people who have trouble “falling asleep.” These products are not intended to be used for more than a few nights or for severe cases of insomnia.

● The information accompanying an OTC sleep aid should be read carefully.

● OTC sleep aids are designed only for bedtime use.

● OTC sleep aids should be taken only as directed by a physician or according to the instructions that come with the medication.

● OTC sleep aids are not intended for use by children under the age of 12.

● OTC sleep aids should not be taken with alcohol or with a sleeping pill, sedative, tranquilizer, or another antihistamine.

● Pregnant or nursing women and individuals with breathing problems or glaucoma should consult their doctor before taking an OTC sleep aid.

● Individuals should consult their doctor if they have either an ongoing problem with insomnia or another sleep problem that affects their daytime activities.

If you have developed chronic sleeplessness or insomnia, you should consult a physician to discuss your sleep problems. There are a plethora of reasons you might be experiencing sleeplessness. All too often an over the counter sleep aid might not be what you truly need. From stress to anxiety, the wrong kind of pillow, or even chronic pain or serious illness like heart disease can be the culprit of your sleeplessness. For more amazing sleep news and all the latest ways to get some truly great sleep, check out our other great articles on Holy Sheets! By NuSleep.



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  • Romell Bhaala