Even if it is only occasional insomnia can really disrupt the quality of your everyday life and if the insomnia becomes a chronic thing it can really cause havoc. Rather than ignoring the problem seeking some kind of insomnia relief is a good idea.
Sleep aids have, in one form or another, been around for centuries. And as the problem never really goes away – and may even be on the rise in our busy, always on world – neither do sleep aids, with new ones arriving all the time.
Prescription sleeping pills have been around for decades too, but increasingly people are wary of those, as they can have some nasty side effects (they can also be very expensive.) So many turn to OTC sleeps aids instead, as well as to various home remedies and other potentially sleep-inducing solutions.
Here, we are going to take a closer look at some of the best sleep aids for insomnia, as well as at the issue itself.
Our Top Picks of 2021
[Also Read: Best 14 White Noise Machines in 2021 ]
Determining Why You Can’t Sleep
If you only have a problem sleeping occasionally then the real cause may be hard to pin down. If the problem becomes chronic, before you can begin seeking insomnia relief methods you really do need to pin down just what it might be that is keeping you up at night.
At this point a visit to your doctor may be in order in make sure there is no physical cause for your insomnia – sleep apnea for example. Your doctor may order a sleep study to determine this.
In most cases though, the cause of chronic insomnia is not related to a physical ailment but to an emotional issue instead or even just to certain bad bedtime habits.
Stress and worry are big causes of insomnia and some people even compound that by having a couple of alcoholic drinks too close to bedtime to unwind unaware of the fact that although alcohol can make you feel sleepy after that effect wears off it can then keep you up for the rest of the night!
Poor bedtime habits can be a cause of insomnia as well. Eating a big meal too close to bedtime or drinking too much caffeine can keep you awake and even watching TV at night or spending too much time staring at your cell phone, can keep you up at night too.
Best Sleep Aids for Insomnia
If your doctor can’t find a physical cause for your insomnia, then you very well might start searching for over-the-counter sleep aids to help you finally get a great night’s sleep – or at least a good one – after all.
These products aren’t just pills though. As the study of sleep as a scientific practice expands more and more sleep aid supplements are coming to the market, everything from special teas to sound machines. Some common names to look out for in over the counter sleep supplements include melatonin, valerian, diphenhydramine, and doxylamine succinate.
Based on both our own experiences and those of others who have purchased these products here’s a look at some of the highest rated sleep aids we have discovered to help your quest for a better night’s rest.
Best Melatonin Sleep Aid
Melatonin has long been known to play an important role in sleep. It is a hormone that your body produces naturally, but some find that taking a melatonin supplement just before bed can help them get to sleep faster.
Why You’ll Love It: Affordable, easy to take melatonin caplets that are vegan friendly
Carlyle’s Melatonin supplement is one of the most popular on Amazon, and, say many customer reviews, for good reason. The capsules are fast dissolve pills that boast a pleasant, but not overwhelming raspberry taste. They are not made using gelatin – an animal byproduct – or artificial colors or dyes.
Many people who have tried this supplement found that it does help them sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine studies have shown melatonin may help reset circadian rhythms – aka your body clock – thus helping you to get a better night’s sleepand still wake at the right time without becoming habit-forming (one of the biggest downsides of conventional prescription and OTC sleeping pills).
PROS: easy to take dissolve on the tongue pills, very affordable – around 0.18 per pill, lots of users found them effective, non habit-forming
CONS: some may not like the taste
Why You’ll Love It: Effective non-prescription sleep supplement that can help with insomnia
This is a popular over the counter sleep aid in the form of liquid capsules (or liquid) and offers an alternative to sleeping pills for temporary insomnia. It contains the active ingredient Diphenhydramine HCI for inducing sleep. Each dose (two LiquiCaps) contains 50mg.
Just take it 30 minutes before bedtime to maximize the effects of this supplement. Possible side effects to note include dry eyes or blurred vision, drowsiness, upset stomach or constipation, dizziness and loss of co-ordination.
Pros: offers temporary relief from sleeplessness, prescription-free
Cons: possible side effects
Best Sleepytime Tea for Insomnia
Good bedtime routines can help combat insomnia, and some experts advise that sipping a warm cup of tea can help promote relaxation and better sleep. Sleepytime teas usually contain ingredients that are thought to heighten this effect.
Why You’ll Love It: Tried and trusted, this tea is high quality, tastes great and is very affordable.
Herbal teas to help combat insomnia are very popular right now, and a lot of new, and rather expensive, sleepytime teas are hitting the market, along with lots of herbal teas in general.
Celestial Seasonings however is a brand that has been around for over 50 years. While their teas are very affordable, they are also made with very high-quality ingredients and the herbal blends are expertly prepared.
Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime Tea has been trusted by millions for generations now. It’s a blend of chamomile, spearmint and lemongrass – all of which are believed to help promote better sleep – that has a pleasant, mild taste and the teabags the blend is packaged in are made from eco-friendly materials. We love the taste and find it does seem to have a calming effect, and many other users agree.
PROS: all-natural ingredients, tried and tested herbal blend, reputable manufacturer, pleasant, mild taste
CONS: Some may find the taste ‘medicine-y’
Best White Noise Machine for Insomnia
If you prefer to sleep with a fan on, even in winter, then you may already benefit from the sleep inducing effects of white noise. White noise is any sound that helps to blur the sometimes jarring noise of your environment – cars outside, doors slamming, – and help you get to, and stay, asleep. Research has shown that white noise can be effective against insomnia if it is a constant.
White noise machines generate these sounds. While many smartphones have white noise apps, they involve leaving your phone ‘open’ near the bed, something that sleep experts agree in itself can make getting to sleep hard. Making use of a dedicated white noise machine solves that problem.
Why You’ll Love It: A simple, affordable and unobtrusive way to add white noise to any sleeping environment.
This Amazon bestseller has a lot of fans, and, having tried it out for ourselves count us as some of them. No bigger than a standard alarm clock this white noise machine boasts six white noise sounds and can be programmed to turn on and turn off at set intervals. Alternately for those who prefer it the sounds can keep playing all night long.
The machine is battery or A/C power operated and the volume can be adjusted easily according to your personal preferences.
Of all the ‘white noises’ on offer we found the ‘ocean’ sound to be the most soothing, but you can also choose from rain, thunder, babbling brook, summer night and ‘standard’ white noise. Users report that not only does this machine help them sleep but helps anxious pets and fussy babies sleep and settle too.
PROS: easy settings, offers six, clear, pleasing to the ear sounds, powered via A/C power connection or batteries, making it easily portable, effective, more affordable than many similar options
CONS: Some of the sound effects were ‘too high pitched’, limited choices for the timer
Best Wedged Pillow
A wedged pillow is an ergonomically shaped pillow that improves sleep posture and promotes a better sleep position, which may help prevent other health issues issues with your spine, neck and shoulders. It’s designed specifically to relieve neck and back pain, acid reflux, snoring, allergies and other breathing issues.
Why You’ll Love It: A wedged pillow for ergonomic pillow that relieves snoring and acid reflux.
This ergonomic pillow is specifically designed to help fight snoring. Whether it’s for you or your partner, this non-drug sleep aid is great alternative.
The Bed Wedge is made using high-density foam with 1.5″ of memory foam layered on top of a polyurethane foam base all of which aid in providing you with a comfortable, restful sleep. Offering great support to the upper back and shoulders, it also helps combat neck and back pain, acid reflux, snoring and other breathing issues.
PROS: offers a non-drug alternative, helps with snoring and acid reflux, removable cover, 2-year warranty, multi-functional (sleep, watch TV or place it under the feet for an elevated position)
CONS: offers insomnia-relief if snoring or acid reflux is the primary cause of your sleeplessness
[ Also Read: The 5 Best Weighted Blankets For Sleeplessness of 2021 ]
Insomnia Relief Mistakes
There are some things that people try to relive their insomnia that can end up making the problem worse. Napping for instance may help you catch up on a little bit of lost sleep, and does have proven benefits, but it will do little for your chances of getting a great night’s sleep in the evening if you nap for longer than about 15-20 minutes.
Some people also think that if they try to going to bed far earlier than they usually do that might provide insomnia relief. That rarely works either though and simply means you lie in bed longer and get even more frustrated.
A better idea is to establish a bedtime and stick to it as far as you possibly can, on weekdays at the very least and try one of these over the counter sleep aids for short term insomnia on an as needed basis.
The sleep aids reviewed on this shortlist offer a temporary solution and are intended to help relieve short-term insomnia.
While OTC sleep aids have fewer side effects than prescription sleep aids they are not entirely side effects-free. Before you purchase a sleep aid, scan the label for any side effects and ask your pharmacist or doctor. Drugs.com is a great resource offering an insight into medications for insomnia that lists possible side effects, risk factors and dosage recommendations.
Finding the root cause of your insomnia and help treat that is a better solution as chronic insomnia can become a longer-term issue.
If you have a chronic condition and regularly take other medications, you’ll want to consult with your doctor before introducing any over-the-counter sleep aid into the mix.
Disclaimer: Nothing on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The contents of this website are for informational purposes only.