Treating Insomnia – Do OTC Meds Work?

Natural methods in curing insomnia are always preferred but upon a doctors approval the following over the counter medicines are formulated to stimulate sleep.

Diphenhydramine (Excedrin, Nytol, Sominex)
Doxylamine (Unisom)

The following on the other hand are medications that need to have doctors prescription to avail:

  • Zolpidem (Ambien)
    Zaleplon (Sonata)
    Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Estazolam (ProSom)
    Temazepa (Restori)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)

Although these medicines are chemicals that trigger sleep, long periods of usage lessens its effectiveness.

Altering a persons diet is effective in preventing and healing insomnia. Doctors suggest eating food that is high in carbohydrate prior to sleep. Examples of these are bread and crackers. Studies showed that carbohydrates enhance the quantity of serotonin produced by the body. Serotonin is a chemical messenger or neurotransmitter that affects the brain. This chemical lessens anxiety which in turn creates sleep.

Here are the some suggested alternatives to medications for treating insomnia:

1. Follow a positive routine.

If an insomniac has an erratic eating routine, this should be changed to a fixed routine dedicated to directly fight insomnia. The person should eat early dinner so as to condition the body to sleep early.

2. Do not drink coffee.

As much as possible, a person with insomnia should avoid drinking coffee, sodas, chocolate, cocoa, green tea, black tea or anything that has caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that triggers sleeplessness. It can make someone awake for as long as 20 hours. For some, even drinking a cup of coffee in the morning causes them sleeplessness at night.

3. Exercise at night.

Insomnia is often caused by too much stress. Doing exercise at night makes blood to circulate in our brain and body. This in turn makes us calm and stress free.

4. The bedroom should be conducive to sleep.

Loud noise coming from cars in the street, upbeat music set at very high volume, bright lights and uncomfortable bed should be avoided.

5. Read not watch.

Read books, magazines or anything that interests an insomniac instead of watching television. Television enhances attention which makes a person awake. Reading on the other hand while in bed causes the eye to get tired and creates a sleepy feeling.

6. Relax

Try ways that causes our body to relax. Meditation techniques like yoga can initiate a calm state of mind and body. Listening to soft and classical music can also help. There are fragrant oils, incense, and candles that are made specifically to aid in relaxation. Consult a shop that sells these on type of scents that can induce sleep.

7. The root solution for insomnia.

There are root extracts that can engender a sleepy state. 300 to 600 mg of concentrated extract should be taken 30 minutes prior to going to bed. This root extract can be mixed with calming herbs like chamomile, passion flower and balm made from lemon.

8. Take melatonin with caution

Melatonin can help in adjusting ones sleeping pattern. 0.5 to 3.0 mg an hour or two before going to bed may help. Melatonin though should only be taken with the approval of a physician. The human body has different reactions to melatonin.

As people grow older, the melatonin level of the body decreases. This explains why older people usually have a hard time sleeping and sleep less compared to children and younger people.

9. Magnesium

Conditions such as restless legs syndrome (RLS) and period limb movements (PLM) while sleeping can cause insomnia. Taking 300 mg of magnesium at night from four to six weeks can solve insomnia. Again this should be done with doctors consent.

10. Acupuncture

Acupuncture which is a Chinese healing method could help to heal insomnia. These needles put into the skin strike nerve transmitters that produce sleep inducing hormones like serotonin.