Mental Health UK

What Is The Best Over The Counter Sleep Aid?

Insomnia can stop spoiling your life if you choose the best sleeping pill available in the pharmacy without a prescription. For this purpose, we have made up this rating, which contains the most effective and safest pills for treating sleep disorders. Their intake will allow you to stop feeling depressed in the morning and thereby return the joy of life.

4 Best Sleeping Pills You Can Buy Without A Prescription

What Is The Best Over The Counter Sleep Aid_

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Aleve PM, others)

Diphenhydramine is used in the treatment of urticaria, vasomotor rhinitis, pollinosis, pruritic dermatoses, acute iridocyclitis, allergic conjunctivitis, angioedema, capillary toxicosis, parkinsonism, chorea, kinetosis, serum sickness, and allergic medicine. The drug is also used to prevent the development of allergic reactions during a blood transfusion, in the complex treatment of bronchial asthma, anaphylactic shock, gastric ulcer, gastritis, provoked by the intensive production of hydrochloric acid. In addition, Diphenhydramine is prescribed for the treatment of sleep disorders, colds, extensive injuries of soft tissues and skin, such as burns and frostbite.


Diphenhydramine is not prescribed if a person has hypersensitivity to diphenhydramine, breastfeeding, pregnancy, angle-closure glaucoma, benign enlargement of the prostate gland, stenotic gastric ulcer, pyloroduodenal obstruction, stenosis of the bladder neck.

Pregnancy and lactation

The drug can be used by pregnant women under strict medical supervision. If it is necessary to use these sleeping pills during lactation, it’s recommended to stop breastfeeding for a moment.

Dosage and administration

Tablets are taken orally, 1 to 3 times a day. The course of treatment is 10 to 15 days. The maximum single dose for adults – 100 mg, daily – 250 mg.

For the treatment of insomnia, take 50 mg of diphenhydramine 20-30 minutes before bedtime. The highest daily dose for children from 2 to 6 years is 75 mg, from 6 to 12 years – 150 mg.


When taking diphenhydramine in increased doses, the patient may experience dry mouth, persistent mydriasis, shortness of breath, flushing of the skin of the face, depression or vice versa, excitation of the central nervous system, confusion and death.

In order to prevent the death of the patient, it is recommended to induce vomiting or rinse his/her stomach, prescribe symptomatic treatment and taking energy-absorbing agents.

Side effects

In some patients, the administration of these pills is accompanied by general weakness, fatigue, impaired attention, dizziness, impaired coordination of movements, increased irritability, anxiety, irritability, tremor of the extremities, cramps, visual impairment, tinnitus and various allergic reactions.

Doxylamine succinate (Unisom SleepTabs)

The drug is prescribed to patients who suffer from transient sleep disturbances.


Doxylamine succinate is not prescribed for patients with glucose-galactose malabsorption, congenital galactosemia, lactase deficiency, angle-closure glaucoma, prostate hyperplasia and urethritis, accompanied by impaired urine outflow. The drug is not used in the treatment of children who are under the age of 15, lactating and pregnant women, and patients with intolerance to doxylamine succinate.

Caution should be exercised in prescribing the drug to patients suffering from liver and kidney dysfunction, as well as nighttime apnea since taking doxylamine succinate increases the likelihood of respiratory arrest during sleep. Prescribing the drug to people over 65 years of age is possible only after a thorough assessment of their health status since the medication increases the likelihood of falling during night awakenings.

Due to the fact that taking the drug may be accompanied by the occurrence of drowsiness in the daytime, it is recommended that you refuse to drive vehicles, as well as any potentially dangerous mechanisms that require a quick psychomotor or motor reaction during the treatment period.

Pregnancy and lactation

Doxylamine succinate is strictly contraindicated in breastfeeding women since it is able to penetrate into breast milk, which will negatively affect the health of the newborn. In the treatment of pregnant women, the drug should be used with great caution: in short courses and at minimum therapeutic doses, under the supervision of a doctor.

Dosage and administration

It is recommended to take half or a pill 15 minutes before going to bed. Pills should be washed down with a small amount of liquid. If taking the drug in minimal doses does not allow you to achieve the necessary therapeutic effect, then its dose can be increased to two pills but only with the permission of the doctor. If you have poor sleep after 5 days of using the drug, then it is canceled and another alternative agent is prescribed.

If it is necessary to prescribe the drug to patients over 65 years of age suffering from renal or hepatic insufficiency, dosage reduction is required.


When taking doxylamine succinate in high doses, the patient may experience increased anxiety, decreased mood, drowsiness in the daytime, impaired coordination of movements, athetosis, tremor, mydriasis, facial flushing, convulsions, fever, epileptiform seizures and coma.

If symptoms of an overdose occur, it is recommended to stop taking the drug immediately and prescribe the correct symptomatic treatment to the patient.

Side effects

The medication can cause increased drowsiness in the daytime, urinary retention, constipation, impaired accommodation and paresis.


Melatonin is used to treat insomnia, conditions related to sleep disturbance, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and also helps to regulate the sleep-wake biological cycle with frequent changes in time zones.

Melatonin can be used as an antioxidant to protect cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. In addition, it has a stimulating effect on the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which has antioxidant properties, improves the functioning of the immune system, normalizes blood pressure, lowers blood cholesterol and has a positive effect on the premenstrual state.

In addition, the drug is used to prevent tumor diseases.


Melatonin is not prescribed to patients with individual hypersensitivity to its components, lymphogranulomatosis, autoimmune diseases, myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma, diabetes mellitus, pregnancy, lactation and epilepsy. This drug cannot be used as part of a complex treatment with MAO inhibitors and cyclosporins.

The drug is not used in pediatric practice.

Caution should be exercised in prescribing melatonin to patients with hormonal disorders, as well as to those whose profession requires an increased concentration of attention and a quick psychomotor reaction.

Pregnancy and lactation

The drug is contraindicated in pregnant and lactating women.

During treatment with Melatonin, it is recommended to use reliable contraceptives. If a woman is planning a pregnancy in the near future, then the drug should be canceled.

Dosage and administration

These pills are intended for oral administration.

Adults take 1 or 2 tablets immediately before going to bed. The tablet must be washed down with water and swallowed whole without chewing. Children over 12 years of age can take one tablet at bedtime.


Cases of poisoning with melatonin are described when taking the drug in a dosage of 24 to 30 mg. In case of an overdose, patients may develop disorientation in space, prolonged sleep, memory loss or loss.

Treatment consists of gastric lavage, symptomatic therapy, and intake of enetrosorbents.

Side effects

The drug rarely causes side effects. With prolonged use of these pills, patients may experience headaches and depression.


It is a sedative. The drug reduces the excitability of central nervous system cells. A sedative effect manifests itself slowly but steadily. It also has a weak antispasmodic effect.

Indications for use include:

  • mild forms of neurosis;
  • sleep disorders of inorganic origin;
  • increased nervous excitability;
  • symptoms of stress;
  • mild functional cardiovascular disorders.


Valerian cannot be used in the following cases:

  • intolerance to the components;
  • depression, other conditions accompanied by inhibition of the central nervous system;
  • children under 12 years old.

Caution required:

  • severe impaired hepatic function;
  • severe liver disease in the past.

Pregnancy and lactation

The drug is not used during pregnancy and lactation (no data on the safety of use).

Dosage and administration

The drug is used orally, after a meal.

The standard dose for adults is 20-30 drops of tincture 3-4 times a day. The standard dose for children over 12 years old is 1 drop per year of life 3-4 times a day.

The duration of therapy is determined by the attending physician depending on the condition of the patient, the therapeutic effect, tolerability of the drug.

Keep in mind that the remedy can enhance the effect of alcohol, sleeping pills, sedatives, analgesic, anxiolytic, antispasmodic drugs.


Symptoms: drowsiness, headache, trembling hands, general weakness, dizziness, abdominal pain, lethargy, feeling of tightness behind the sternum, dilated pupils, decreased hearing and / or vision, nausea, tachycardia.

If the dose of the drug is significantly exceeded or symptoms of an overdose are detected, it is recommended to temporarily stop taking it and seek medical help.

Overdose treatment includes drug withdrawal, gastric lavage, administration of enterosorbents, intake of a large amount of fluid, and symptomatic therapy.

Side effects

Valerian can cause the following side effects:

  • Neurological disorders: dizziness, depression of emotional reactions, drowsiness, depression, decreased mental and / or physical performance, general weakness;
  • Digestive disorders: nausea;
  • Immune disorders: manifestations of hypersensitivity, including exanthema, pruritus, hyperemia. In exceptional cases, severe allergic reactions are possible (including anaphylactic shock, angioedema, urticaria).

If you have sleep disorders, we recommend that you consult a doctor. Self-medication can be dangerous to health.