The Best Over-The-Counter Sleep Aids and Sleeping Pills 2022 (Expert Reviewed)

Trouble sleeping? Over-the-counter sleep aids are an option to help treat insomnia and other sleep problems. If you think you should take a sleeping pill, here’s what you need to know.

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Sleeping Pills and Natural Sleep Aids

Are sleep aids safe? Observe these caveats if you use over-the-counter sleep aids or sleeping pills to help you sleep. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

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What are Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids?

Sleep aids, also known as sleeping pills, are medications or supplements that help a person sleep. You don’t need a prescription in order to buy over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pills.

OTC sleep aids use antihistamines as their primary ingredient. Antihistamines work by blocking certain brain chemicals, which make you feel sleepy. There are also natural sleeping aids that use herbs or other natural elements.

Let’s explore when to use sleeping pills and the popular options that are available.

When to Use OTC Sleeping Pills?

Many people take OTC sleeping pills to get quality sleep, but many people may not need them. Exercising, avoiding alcohol and other healthy behaviors can often improve sleep[1] and prevent insomnia.

If lifestyle changes don’t work or you’re still experiencing poor sleep, an OTC may be a good solution. They may help you adopt better sleeping habits.

Sleeping pills are generally safe for short-term use. Yet, studies[2] of OTC sleep aids don’t have reliable results on both how well they work and how safe they are.

Active Ingredients To Look For In Sleep Aids

There are some of the active ingredients to look at while choosing the best sleep aids.

Melatonin: Melatonin naturally exists as a sleep hormone and is made in the body. One of the factors that influence its production is time. That is, its levels notably increase during the evening and subside as it approaches the morning hours.

One review article published in the PLOS ONE Journal concluded that melatonin has a positive effect on sleep quality and that it impacts sleep-onset latency, and improves sleep hours. The study also indicates that it made the users feel more refreshed after sleep.

L-Theanine: This ingredient occurs naturally in the body in form of amino acids. It is mostly featured in anti-anxiety support supplements because of its calming effects.

Research published in the Pharmaceutical Biology Journal checked into the effectiveness of GABA and L-theanine formula on sleep in subjects. The conclusion hints that sleep latency improved by 14.9% and sleep increased by above 24.5% across the study participants.

Gama Aminobutyric Acid: Shortened to GABA acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is among the highly essential amino acids that support brain function. A research report appearing in the Journal of Clinical Neurology records that in a double-blind trial, the administration of 300 mg of this ingredient daily was done, it improved sleep quality and did not cause any unwanted results.

Chamomile: Most top-rated sleep support products list this ingredient as being their key component. Besides, the sedative properties in chamomile have made it a widely used herb and remedy for different conditions.

In the Journal of Education and Health Promotion, one study highlights that the oral administration of this herb promotes sleep quality in terms of time and consistency.

Tryptophan: This ingredient works indirectly in that it actively promotes the synthesis of key support chemicals in the body. In precise, tryptophan is an amino acid that aids heighten the production of serotonin and melatonin and serotonin.

A study shared in the Journal of Medicine points out that this component may ease sleep disorders temporarily.

Eucalyptus Leaf Oil: This is an essential oil that for centuries has been used in aromatherapy because of its stress-relieving benefits. It is said to improve sleep, support good mood, lower depression, and increase calmness.

A randomized trial study shared in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine supports the sleep support benefits associated with this leaf oil.

Tips For Choosing The Best Sleep Aids

First, identify what is affecting your sleep. There are lots of factors that may be preventing you from getting a good night’s rest. Since OTC sleep aids are best for short-term use, figuring out what kind of sleep problems you have will help you decide if they are right for you.

Then, talk with your healthcare provider. They can make sure the sleep supplement won’t interact with any other medications you are taking. Always ask your provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before choosing a supplement.

Remember to read the label and look for any precautions. Some supplements may have limitations if you have medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer. Keep in mind that sleeping aids may also affect other areas of your life, like driving.

Review of The Best Sleep Aids 2022

The following sleep aids are highly popular in the market. They are commonly used sleeping pills with reviews from buyers.

Sleep Support Plus

 

Sleep Support PlusBuy on Official Website

*All the prices listed here are as they appear on their websites and are subject to change.

Quick Facts & Specs

Sleep Support Plus

The Sleep Support Plus is an exclusive sleep supporting supplement that provides a relaxation feeling.

  • Form:Pills
  • Type:Supplement
  • Benefit:Relieves from insomnia
  • Phone & Address:1-888-455-9995; Vita Balance Inc, 7400 Beaufont Springs Drive, Suite 300, Richmond, Virginia 23225, United States, support@vitabalance.net
  • Brand:VitaPost
  • Active Ingredients:Tryptophan, Melatonin, Goji Berry, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Valerian
  • Price:$27.95*
 
 

Sleep Support Plus Pros & Cons

Pros

  • This OTC claims to help you fall asleep faster and helps you stay asleep all night.
  • The product belongs to the American Herbal Products Association.
  • This supplement has all-natural ingredients, is gluten-free, and non-GMO.

Cons

  • For some people the recommended dose is too powerful, resulting in side-effects. Natrium Health suggests reducing the dose to one pill if any side effects occur.

Results: Since this product is free of melatonin, it is a good option for those that do not want to use melatonin supplements. Sleep Support Plus reviews are positive and you can definitely consider buying it.


Onnit New Mood

 

Onnit New MoodBuy on Official Website

*All the prices listed here are as they appear on their websites and are subject to change.

Quick Facts & Specs

Onnit New Mood

Onnit New Mood is an organic mood supplement which promises to elevate positive mood, lower stress and anxiety, and promote a calm and relaxed demeanor.

  • Form:Capsule
  • Type:Supplement
  • Benefit:Decrease stress and anxiety, improves sleep quality.
  • Phone & Address:1-855-ONNIT-99
  • Brand:Onnit
  • Active Ingredients:5-HTP, Tryptophan, Vitamins B3 and B6, Chamomile, Valarian Root, Jujube Seed, Lemon Balm
  • Price:$29.95*
 
 

Onnit New Mood Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Onnit New Mood supports heart and nervous system health.
  • It can eliminate daily stressors and promote a better mood balance.
  • It’s free of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, and caffeine.

Cons

  • Onnit New Mood is a fairly expensive supplement.
  • It could make you somewhat drowsy.

Results: Onnit New Mood contains a number of ingredients which promote a relaxed, calm feeling. It also raise levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, which can boost good mood and decrease feelings of anxiety.


ZzzQuil

 

ZzzQuilBuy on Official Website

*All the prices listed here are as they appear on their websites and are subject to change.

Quick Facts & Specs

ZzzQuil
ZzzQuil is an OTC that has an antihistamine in it.

  • Form:Pills
  • Type:Supplement
  • Benefit:Helps fall asleep faster, enhances sound sleep, provides sufficient night sleep
  • Phone & Address:1-800-362-1683
  • Brand:ZzzQuil
  • Active Ingredients:Melatonin, Ashwagandha, Valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) root extract, Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) leaf extract
  • Price:$10.99*
 
 

ZzzQuil Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It’s used to reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep and to help you stay asleep.
  • You take it when you need it, so you don’t have to follow a specific schedule.
  • They offer a variety of options, including gummies, liquid, LiquiCaps and tablets.
  • Reviews on their website are very positive.

Cons

  • It can cause blurred vision, affecting your ability to drive or do other daily activities.
  • Many people report having strange dreams when using ZzzQuil.

Results: There are not any peer-reviewed studies on ZzzQuil. Yet, many people comment that it works.


Natrol Melatonin

 

Natrol MelatoninBuy on Official Website

*All the prices listed here are as they appear on their websites and are subject to change.

Quick Facts & Specs

Natrol Melatonin
Natrol Melatonin is an OTC that uses Melatonin.

  • Form:Pills
  • Type:Supplement
  • Benefit:Promotes a more restful, relaxing sleep and better overall health
  • Phone & Address:1-800-262-8765; Natrol LLC is located at 21411 Prairie St. Chatsworth, CA 91311
  • Brand:Natrol
  • Active Ingredients:Coconut Oil, Pectin, Sodium citrate, Organic tapioca syrup, Organic cane sugar
  • Price:$14.99*
 
 

Natrol Melatonin Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Melatonin can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  • The gummies are non-GMO, gelatin-free and vegetarian.
  • According to their website, they are ranked the #1 melatonin brand in America.

Cons

  • There are no consumer reviews on their website.
  • Melatonin doesn’t work for everyone.

Results: Melatonin supplements have been heavily researched in peer-reviewed studies with mixed results.


Avinol PM

 

Avinol PMBuy on Official Website

*All the prices listed here are as they appear on their websites and are subject to change.

Quick Facts & Specs

Avinol PM
Avinol PM claims to help consumers with jet lag, stress, irregular work schedules, insomnia and chronic fatigue.

  • Form:Pills
  • Type:Supplement
  • Benefit:Promote deep sleep and stabilizes body’s sleep cycle
  • Phone & Address:1-855-509-6081
  • Brand:Avinol PM
  • Active Ingredients:Melatonin, Calcium, Magnesium, GABA, Hops Flower Powder
  • Price:$38.99*
 
 

Avinol PM Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It comes in the form of quick-dissolvable tablets.
  • Contains melatonin and other herbs that may help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.

Cons

  • Ingredients within Avinol PM all have minimum dosing requirements, which may not be enough to be effective.
  • There is no direct website for this sleeping aid.

Results: Currently there are no peer-reviewed studies using Avinol-PM and many of the consumer reviews are mixed.


Unisom

 

UnisomBuy on Official Website

*All the prices listed here are as they appear on their websites and are subject to change.

Quick Facts & Specs

Unisom
Reported as the #1 Pharmacist recommended OTC Sleep-Aid Brand by Pharmacy Times Survey in 2015.

  • Form:Pills
  • Type:Supplement
  • Benefit:Helps fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer
  • Phone & Address:1-866-844-2798; Chattem, Inc; P.O. Box 2219; Chattanooga, TN 37409-0219
  • Brand:Unisom
  • Active Ingredients:5mg Melatonin
  • Price:$38.99*
 
 

Unisom Pros & Cons

Pros

  • These products have histamine and fast-acting sleep ingredients in them.
  • Unisom provides references to their statements and claims.
  • Comes in easy-to-swallow gels, tablets, little capsules, and dissolvable tablets.
  • The products are reported as non-habit forming.

Cons

  • You should not take this if you have glaucoma, asthma or other chronic lung diseases, or an enlarged prostate.
  • The primary ingredient is an antihistamine, which slows down breast milk production. Individuals breast-feeding should not use this medication.

Results: The SleepGels have a 4.7-star rating with over 550 reviews on their website. Many of the reviews report it helped them fall asleep and they woke up feeling refreshed.


ZZZleepy

 

Zzzleepy Sleep AidBuy on Amazon

*All the prices listed here are as they appear on their websites and are subject to change.

Quick Facts & Specs

Zzzleepy
ZZZleepy is a sleep aid supplement that promises to get you to sleep and provide you with a peaceful night.

  • Form:Capsule
  • Type:Supplement
  • Benefit:Induce drowsiness and help you get to sleep at night
  • Brand:Zzzleepy
  • Active Ingredients:Melatonin, 5-HTP, GABA
  • Price:$19.99*
 
 

Zzzleepy Pros & Cons

Pros

  • This product can help you sleep at night.
  • It’s priced very reasonably.
  • The supplement is not addictive.
  • You’ll feel fully rested when you wake up.
  • It can fight stress and induce calmness.

Cons

  • The product contains rice, which is a common allergen.
  • You can’t take this if you have a breathing problem.
  • Combing with alcohol could be dangerous.

Results: Gentle and Non-Habit Forming, says the ZZZleepy reviews. All the active ingredients in ZZZLEEPY are natural, gentle and non-habit forming. You can take ZZZLEEPY for as long as you feel necessary and stop anytime.


Olly Sleep

 

olly-sleepBuy on Official Website

*All the prices listed here are as they appear on their websites and are subject to change.

Quick Facts & Specs

Olly Sleep
OLLY Sleep delivers a unique blend of active ingredients that work together to calm your mind and promote restful sleep so you wake up feeling refreshed.

  • Form:Gummies
  • Type:Supplement
  • Benefit:Promotes faster and higher quality sleep, strengthens immune system, balances sleep cycle
  • Phone & Address:1-844-HEY-OLLY; hello@olly.com
  • Brand:Olly
  • Active Ingredients:Lemon Balm, L-Theanine, Chamomile, Passion Flower, Melatonin, Coconut, Pectin
  • Price:$13.99*
 
 

Olly Sleep Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Olly Sleep Gummies can decrease stress and anxiety.
  • This product can calm and relax your mind.
  • Olly Sleep helps you get to sleep faster.
  • This supplement improves the quality of your sleep.
  • Olly Sleep Aid helps balance your sleep cycle.

Cons

  • There is only one flavor, and some users may not enjoy it.
  • Olly Sleep Vitamins would be more potent with additional ingredients.
  • High demand may sometimes lead to low stock.

Results: Reports show that Olly Sleep Gummies have worked for the users. Customers reviews have shown that Olly Sleep boosts the natural sleep hormone and encourage relaxation of mind and body.


Juiced Upp Sweet DreamZZ

 

Juiced Upp Sweet DreamzzBuy on Official Website

*All the prices listed here are as they appear on their websites and are subject to change.

Quick Facts & Specs

Juiced Upp Sweet DreamZZ
SWEET DREAMZZ is a special, natural formula designed to help your body recover from the stresses of life. It rebalances the hormones and gets you ready to take on the whole world, day after day.

  • Form:Capsules
  • Type:Supplement
  • Benefit:Maintains higher energy levels, improves mood and mental balance, supports deep, quality sleep and relaxation
  • Phone & Address:+1 (844) 886-1634; support@juicedupp.com
  • Brand:Juiced Upp
  • Active Ingredients:5mg Melatonin
  • Price:$59.99*
 
 

Juiced Upp Sweet DreamZZ Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Sweet DreamZZ can promote a quality sleep.
  • This supplement can decrease stress and anxiety.
  • Sweet DreamZZ gives you energy during the daytime.
  • These sleeping pills can boost your mood.
  • Sweet DreamZZ can balance your hormones.

Cons

  • The results will vary from customer to customer.
  • The manufacturer does not offer free samples.
  • This is a popular product which may sometimes run low stock.

Results:Juiced Upp Sweet DreamZZ Reviews report have shown to work for the customers. The rating of 4.8 is noted.

Sleep Aids are Not a Magic Cure

OTC sleep aids are not a magic cure. They may be effective for an occasional sleepless night. Yet, with long-term use, many people develop a tolerance for them. So the longer you take them, the less likely they will help sleep issues.

Many people also report feeling groggy the next day. While others report other side effects, such as dry mouth, blurred vision or daytime drowsiness. Stop using OTC sleeping pills if you have any side effects.

Keep in mind that OTC supplements are not reviewed and regulated by the FDA. There is no standardization in terms of dosage or formulas. This doesn’t mean they don’t work. It just means it’s important to buy from reputable sources and to review the labels.

Best Sleep Aids – FAQs

Q. What is the difference between OTC sleeping pills and prescribed sleeping pills?

A. A primary difference is that prescribed sleeping pills are approved by the FDA, while OTC sleeping pills are not. OTC sleep supplements typically contain natural ingredients. Prescription sleeping pills tend to have chemicals.

Q. Are sleeping pills or sleep aids right for you?

A. OTC sleep aids may be right for you if you have short-term difficulty sleeping and if you’ve talked with your physician to ensure it is safe for you to take.

Q: Are Sleep Aids Safe?

A: Sleep aids are generally safe, but they do have a few known negative effects that may affect your health.
Always speak with your doctor before adding any medication or supplement to your regimen.

Q. Can sleeping pills treat insomnia?

A. Sleeping pills do work and can be an effective treatment for insomnia. There are side effects and it’s important to take it as recommended.

Q. How long do OTC sleeping pills take to work?

A. Once you’ve taken a sleeping pill, it’s important to plan on going to bed shortly after. Many OTC sleep supplements recommend taking 15-20 minutes before bedtime. It’s also helpful to stop doing activities after taking the supplement.

Q. When should I take a sleeping pill?

A. If you’re planning on taking a sleeping pill, take it at least eight hours before you want to wake up. If you take it sooner than that, you may wake up feeling groggy.

Q: What is the most popular OTC sleep aid?

A: Melatonin is chosen as the most popular OTC Sleep aid as per the best sleep aids reviews and research. But if Melatonin doesn’t seem to work for you, consider trying over-the-counter sleep aids like ZzzQuil or Onnit New Mood.

Q. What causes poor sleep?

A. Stress is a common cause of insomnia. Yet, there are many factors that affect sleep quality. Nutrition choices, hormones, chronic disease, or work schedules can affect sleep.

Best Sleep Aids – The Bottom Line

Taking OTC sleep supplements can be helpful for those who are unable to get quality sleep on their own. Since there are different formulas for each brand, trial and error can help individuals find the right one.

Always be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about supplements before starting to take one. Experts also agree that sleeping pills are not the only part of the solution.

*Disclaimer: Health Insiders aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or sleep disorder with fact-based content about the nature of sleep health conditions, treatment options, and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.

Sources

Health Insiders relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

[1] Effects of moderate aerobic exercise training on chronic primary insomnia

[2] @article{Randall2008OverthecounterSA, title={Over-the-counter sleep aid medications and insomnia}, author={Surilla Randall and Timothy Roehrs and Thomas Roth}, journal={Primary psychiatry}, year={2008}, volume={15}, pages={52-58} }

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Julie Harris, RDN, LDN, CPT

Julie Harris is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Freelance Writer, and Behavioral Health Specialist. She is also the Owner and Foun...

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