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The Best Over the Counter Sleep Aids

Updated August 16, 2019

Everybody needs sleep, but not everybody gets it. That’s just a fact of life. Fortunately, we no longer live in the dark ages and magical sleep aid pills are but a quick trip to the drugstore away. Sleep solutions are everywhere these days, but not all of them are considered equal. Different sleeping pills offer different experiences and not all of them will be right for you. So how do you determine which over the counter sleep aid will help you get the rest that you deserve? Simple, you keep reading this page. We’ve done the research and the legwork to uncover the best over the counter sleep aids on the market. All you need to do is keep reading.

Rank Products Highlights
#1

Kirkland Signature Sleep Aid Doxylamine Succinate

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  • Good for people with changing sleeping patterns (lots of traveling, working in a shift, etc.)
  • Active ingredient does not cause dependency.
  • Available in packs of more tablet bottles.
#2 What is the best sleep aid over the counter that you can get?

Source Naturals Sleep Science Melatonin

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  • Based on melatonin, one of the world’s most natural sleep aids.
  • Can be administered as close as 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • The sublingual product takes less time to get into the bloodstream.
#3

LUNA Sleep Aid

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  • Manufacturer provides a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
  • It’s one of the most popular sleeping aid in the US.
  • Made from a combination of natural ingredients.
  • Works on several levels to induce a state of calm and relaxation.
#4

Vitafusion Extra Strength Melatonin Gummy Vitamins

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  • Natural blackberry flavor.
  • Made with natural ingredients with no severe side effects.
  • Products that’s won the 2018 Chef’s Best Excellence Award.
  • Doesn’t contain any gluten, artificial flavors, synthetic dues of high-fructose corn syrup.
#5

ValuMeds Nighttime Sleep Aid

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  • Much better value compared to similar sleep aids sold by other brands.
  • Has a quick effect.
  • Capable of providing eight straight hours of interrupted sleep.

Not sleeping is never an option. But taking sleeping pills the minute you fail to fall asleep is also not the best option. Assuming you’ve tried everything, from reducing your daily caffeine intake to exercising on a regular basis to help you consume some of that leftover energy residue, sleep aids could help you fall asleep when everything else fails to help you. Even the most natural of sleep aids are best to be consumed on a short-term basis and typically with a doctor’s recommendation. So, what is the best sleep aid over the counter that you can buy? Let’s take a look.

Understanding Your OTC Options

Over the counter sleep aids are a good alternative to prescription sleeping pills, as they are not as strong and the chances of becoming addicted to any of the active ingredients are pretty low. A lot of over the counter sleeping aid contain antihistamines, which are typically meant to cure insomnia, because they have sedative effects. However, they are not a viable long-term solution, since a lot of people develop tolerance to antihistamines the more they take them. There are some side effects you can experience, such as nausea, drowsiness or grogginess. There’s also the possibility that some of the active ingredients in over the counter sleep aid interact with other medication you might be taking, but also with alcohol.

If you plan on taking over the counter sleep aids, here’s what you should know about the most common ingredients found inside them:

  • Melatonin is a natural sleep aid, but it’s also one of the most frequently used ingredients in sleep aids. While melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally secreted by our bodies, telling us it’s time for bed, a low level of melatonin can actually indicate that it’s time to wake up, which means that it needs to be regulated with supplements if you want to fall asleep at the right time. The side effects of melatonin typically include daytime sleepiness and sometimes headaches.
  • Valerian is known for being yet another natural sleep aid used in the manufacturing of over the counter medication. However, there aren’t really any conclusive studies that indicate a direct link between a valerian intake and the reduction of the time it takes to actually fall asleep.
  • Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that acts as a sedative, making it a viable choice when you need to sleep. Since it’s not natural, the number of side effects are also increased and range from dry mouth to blurred vision.
  • Doxylamine succinate is quite similar to diphenhydramine, being a sedating antihistamine. The side effects caused by this ingredient are also similar.

Top 6 Best Over the Counter Sleep Aids Reviews

#1. Kirkland Signature Sleep Aid Doxylamine Succinate

OVERVIEW

Dimensions: 1.5 x 1.5 x 3 inches

Weight: 0.8 ounces

Quantity: Bottle with 96 tablets

If you’re looking for a solid antihistamine sleep aid. Kirkland is definitely the ace of your sleeve. Doxylamine Succinate is the active ingredient of this sleep aid, which acts as a strong sedative, helping you doze off in little to no time. Of course, because of this strong effect, it’s recommended not to use before any activities that require attention and focus, as you will start to feel drowsy. Also, since this medication is powerful, you shouldn’t take it if you go to bed very late and have to wake up early in the morning.

The manufacturer has failed to specify a specific number of hours when the medicine is effective, which makes sense considering that every metabolism will assimilate it differently. Whenever you purchase sleep aids that don’t specify an average time of effect, it’s best to assume that it takes about eight hours for the effect to run off. Sleeping less than eight hours doesn’t guarantee that you’ll wake up feeling excessively sleepy, so always keep that in mind. Doxylamine is an active ingredient that doesn’t cause any dependency, which makes it safer to use compared to other types of sleeping pills. Due to its effectiveness, there’s rarely any need to administer a higher dose than the one recommended.

Pros

  • Good for people with changing sleeping patterns (lots of traveling, working in a shift, etc.)
  • Active ingredient does not cause dependency.
  • Available in packs of more tablet bottles.

Cons

  • Not a long-term remedy for insomnia.
  • Could cause drowsiness the following day.

#2. Source Naturals Sleep Science Melatonin

OVERVIEW

Dimensions: 1.3 x 1.3 x 1.6 inches

Weight: 0.6 ounces

Quantity: Bottle with 120 or 240 lozenges

Of course, there are also some more natural over the counter sleeping aid you can turn to. You probably already know that as far as natural sleep aids are concerned, melatonin supplements are a long-time favorite. That’s because they increase the melatonin levels inside the body, telling you that it’s ready for bedtime. With a mere dose of 2.5 mg, it’s just the right dosage for your daily melatonin-related needs. The tablets are sublingual and will quickly dissolve under your tongue, which means less time waiting for you to get into that relaxed mood that will help you fall asleep faster. They’re great for people who often have that nasty gag reflex that’s preventing them from swallowing large pills without that horrible feeling that they’re going to throw up.

Because they dissolve under the tongue, they also get into the bloodstream a lot faster, being absorbed quicker compared to pills that are swallowed. They are a good choice for people who arrive home late and want to get to bed as fast as possible, within a shorter time frame. Since they are based on melatonin, they aren’t suitable for long-term insomnia, but rather for situations such as jet lag or shift workers that are having a hard time falling asleep when needed. If you’re on the market looking for a reliable melatonin sleep aid, we totally recommend this one.

Pros

  • Based on melatonin, one of the world’s most natural sleep aids.
  • Can be administered as close as 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • The sublingual product takes less time to get into the bloodstream.

Cons

  • Tablets don’t dissolve as quickly as advertised.
  • People claim that while it helps you fall asleep fast, this sleep aid doesn’t really prevent frequent sleep disruptions.

#3. LUNA Sleep Aid

OVERVIEW

Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 4.2 inches

Weight: 0.8 ounces

Quantity: Bottle with 60 capsules

LUNA is one of the bestselling sleeping aids we’ve had to pleasure of stumbling upon. That’s because it has a very interesting combination of no less than nine active ingredients, as follows: Gaba – 100 mg, hops extract – 100 mg, lemon balm extract – 100 mg, passionflower extract – 100 mg, chamomile extract – 150 mg, valerian extract – 150 mg, L-Theanine – 200 mg, magnesium – 10 mg and melatonin – 6 mg. This is definitely one of the most intense combinations of all the best natural sleeping aids we’ve seen so far. But we’re all these sleeping aids really necessary?

It depends on how you examine the situation. Each of these fulfills a rather different role in helping you fall asleep. Melatonin supplements the low levels of this hormone inside your body. GABA is one of your body’s neurotransmitters. L-Theanine is an amino acid that’s commonly found in green tea. All of the ingredients put together to play a small part in helping reduce the state of anxiety, preparing your body for sleep and relaxing the muscles so you get into the snooze mood. Manufacturer’s claim that the use of every ingredient is backed up by science, but whether you choose to believe that claim is entirely up to you. It’s true that there are numerous studies that link ingredients like melatonin and chamomile to the induction of a sleepy state, but there is a lack of conclusive evidence.

Even so, there are thousands and thousands of customers all across the USA that claim LUNA is one of the best natural sleep aids currently available on the market. Because of its composition, this sleeping aid will avoid morning grogginess and the chances of any severe side effect are significantly reduced compared to other types of sleeping pills, especially if you stick to the recommended dosage.

Pros

  • Manufacturer provides a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
  • It’s one of the most popular sleeping aid in the US.
  • Made from a combination of natural ingredients.
  • Works on several levels to induce a state of calm and relaxation.

Cons

  • Doesn’t “knock you out”, if that’s the effect you were hoping for.

#4. Vitafusion Extra Strength Melatonin Gummy Vitamins

OVERVIEW

  • Dimensions: 5.2 x 2.9 x 2.9 inches
  • Weight: 11 ounces
  • Quantity: Bottle with 120 gummy vitamins

If the Vitafusion gummy vitamins don’t put you to sleep, you’ll at least have something tasty to chew on. Their natural blackberry flavor will at least keep your taste buds satisfied in case the active ingredients don’t deliver as expected. What makes the Vitafusion gummies so popular, you ask? First off, they contain a bunch of vitamins, which are never a bad thing for your body’s strength and overall health. These sleep aid gummies contain vitamins that range from A, C, D, and E, acting as both supplements and antioxidants. Because of their fruity flavor, they are also a pleasure to take, preventing that nasty medication-like taste.

An interesting fact that stands behind the quality of the product is that fact that the product won the 2018 Chef’s Best Excellence Award, as it combines some high-quality ingredients. It doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, gluten or synthetic dyes. Taking these gummies won’t exactly knock you out, so they might not be the best choice for people suffering from severe insomnia. They are, however, an excellent choice for people looking for a short-term sleeping aid. So, if you’re suffering from jet lag or having a stressful period at work or in your personal life, one that’s preventing you from being relaxed enough to sleep, these delicious gummy treats will surely put you in the right mood.

Pros

  • Natural blackberry flavor.
  • Made with natural ingredients with no severe side effects.
  • Products that’s won the 2018 Chef’s Best Excellence Award.
  • Doesn’t contain any gluten, artificial flavors, synthetic dues of high-fructose corn syrup.

Cons

  • Aren’t strong enough for people who suffer from severe insomnia.

#5. ValuMeds Nighttime Sleep Aid

OVERVIEW

Dimensions: N/A

Weight: 4.8 ounces

Quantity: Two bottles with 96 softgels each

The active ingredient in these ValuMeds sleep aids is diphenhydramine. This is an antihistamine which is mainly used to treat allergies but also works for insomnia, nausea, or common Parkinson disease tremors. The pills themselves are made to be easy to swallow, because of the smooth gel cover that basically allows the pill to slide down your throat with little to no effort. Due to its compositions, this sleep aid can also help people who have restless leg syndrome and feel the need to move their legs frequently when lying in bed.

However, there is the risk of side effect to this form of medication, since it doesn’t involve as many natural ingredients as some of the other over the counter options we’ve reviewed in this roundup. Diphenhydramine should never be combined with alcoholic beverages and the potential drowsiness and nausea indicate that no heavy vehicles should be operated while under the influence of this sleeping aid.

Pros

  • Much better value compared to similar sleep aids sold by other brands.
  • Has a quick effect.
  • Capable of providing eight straight hours of interrupted sleep.

Cons

  • Should not be combined with alcohol.
  • Should not be ingested before operating heavy machinery, driving, etc.

#6. Zenwise Labs Sleep Support

OVERVIEW

  • Dimensions: N/A
  • Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Quantity: Bottle with 60 vegetarian capsules

If you’re looking for a solid combination of more natural ingredients in a sleeping aid that actually gets the job done, Zenwise may have the right product for you. Curious about the active ingredients in this one? It provides a combination of GABA – 100 mg, 5-HTP 100 mg, valerian powder – 150 mg, chamomile powder – 100 mg, l-Ornithine – 5 mg, L-Theanine – 200 mg, taurine – 200 mg, Melatonin – 6 mg and magnesium – 80 mg. The composition of these vegetarian capsules is just enough to help you fall asleep faster and prevent you from constantly waking up during the night. There aren’t any significant side effects, like drowsiness when waking up the next day.

However, we do have a couple of questionable things to point out. First off, the 6 mg of melatonin feel like a bit too much, since the recommended base dosage is 3 mg and you can increment it if need be. Starting off with so much feels a little bit off. Second, the combination of active ingredients in these capsules can come off as a bit too strong, especially for people who’ve never taken sleep aids before. That’s why it’s advised to start with half of the recommended dosage and see how your body reacts to this combination of ingredients.

The chamomile addition is a nice touch, as it’s one of the most ancient herbs known to man, used to make a tea that induces a state of calm and is even promoted to relieve stomach aches and menstrual cramp pain. 5-HTP aids in the secretion of serotonin, a hormone that helps balance your sleep cycle, together with melatonin.

Pros

  • Widely recommended by people who have trouble sleeping because of other health-related problems.
  • Induces a state of calm, relaxing the muscles.
  • Ingredients aid in the release of serotonin.

Cons

  • Melatonin dosage is a bit too high to start off.
  • This sleep aid can be a bit powerful for those who’ve never taken sleep aids before.

Verdict

Even if you don’t need a medical prescription to take then, over the counter sleep aids are not to be treated as all-natural supplements that are good on a long-term basis. While they are not the last option to turn to, they definitely shouldn’t be the first one either. Other measures, such as behavioral therapy or sleep aid devices pose a lower health risk, a zero addiction risks and are a safer solution for people who have disrupted sleep-wake cycle. While they are preferred to prescription sleeping pills, it’s always best to consult your doctor before rushing down to the pharmacy to buy them. They are not indicated if you take any other medication for other health problems, as some active ingredients can interact with one another and cause drastic side effects.