Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise.
Although sleep hours may differ depending on the person, experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours of nightly rest, daily, for adults.
Sadly, for many, sleep is elusive, even after a long day. If you can relate, you’re not alone. Stats say about 68 percent of Americans have difficulty sleeping at least once weekly.
Sleep’s benefits aren’t debatable. Science says our sleep duration impacts virtually all aspects of our body and mind. Improved memory, cognition, and optimized heart and blood vessel function are some typical benefits from a good night’s sleep.
Conversely, insufficient sleep could have detrimental effects.
With growing global stress, the search for effective sleep aids is at an all-time high.
Although experts believe a sound sleep pattern begins with healthy sleep habits and practices, some need a little help beyond that.
This article discusses – and compares – common sleep aids, including Melatonin, Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), Doxylamine Succinate (Unisom), and the cannabis extract Cannabidiol (CBD).
Types of Sleep Aids
If you seek some assistance for a good night’s rest, sleeping aids may offer some relief. These are available as over-the-counter (OTC) pills, prescription pills, and natural sleep aids.
While there is no one size fits all sleep aid, some options may be more effective and generally safer, even with repeated doses.
First up: Melatonin
Typically, the human body produces a hormone called melatonin. This naturally-occurring hormone tells the brain when it’s time to sleep.
The time of the day affects the hormones’ production and activation. While melatonin levels are low in the morning, it gradually spikes in the evenings, preparing the brain for a long night’s rest.
Melatonin supplements are commonly recommended sleep aids. These supplements help increase circulating melatonin.
Research suggests melatonin supplements improve daytime sleep. This makes it advantageous for those whose routine requires a daytime rest, like night-shift workers.
That said, melatonin also helps improve sleep quality and duration in people with sleep disorders.
For dosage, 3 to 10 mg of melatonin before bedtime is a typical recommendation.
Although melatonin is considered one of the safest supplements, it can have side effects including:
• Vivid dreams
• Daytime sleepiness
• Stomach cramps
Diphenhydramine reduces histamines.
Diphenhydramine is an active ingredient in Benadryl, Nytol, Simply Sleep, and 40 Winks. It’s widely available in OTC cold-and-flu recommendations.
As with most drugs, diphenhydramine drugs are not without some side effects:
• Dry mouth
These symptoms are relatively mild and short-lived. However, if they become severe or persist over 24 hours, consult your healthcare provider.
Also, avoid using diphenhydramine with alcohol or certain antidepressants may trigger hallucinations, seizures, and a drop in blood pressure.
This is another antihistamine compound with sleep-inducing effects. It is an active ingredient in several sleep-aid prescriptions like Wal-som, Unisom Sleeptabs, and other Nighttime Sleep Aids.
Besides drowsiness, users report some common adverse effects, including:
• Dry mouth
These symptoms are usually mild and brief. However, if severity increases or conditions linger, consult your doctor.
Notably, trouble urinating or altered vision may require urgent medical attention.
Avoid using Doxylamine Succinate with alcohol or other antidepressants.
Doxylamine succinate and diphenhydramine have similar side effects. Avoid driving or operating heavy machines as long as you feel woozy.
This is where CBD shows promise.
CBD, a naturally occurring extract, is one of over a hundred compounds present in cannabis.
Short term documented adverse effects are negligible compared to the alternatives.
When consumed, the compound interacts with the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS), responsible for functions including motor skills, appetite, pain, and even sleep.
Individual health conditions, age, body weight, and genetics are typical factors that dictate the amount of internally occurring cannabinoids produced.
When these internally produced cannabinoids are reduced, CBD can help.
CBD binds to receptors in the endocannabinoid system. These receptors are aspects of the ECS that regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
Of course, with a calm and relaxed mind, sleep comes quicker and stays longer.
Clinical studies show CBD may cause tiredness, gastrointestinal issues, decreased appetite, and liver toxicity in very high doses.
Experts say moderate use of CBD may cause side effects including:
• Dry mouth
• Change in appetite
Most medications are designed to offer short term sleep assistance. Hence safety concerns can arise like addiction and/or drug dependence. CBD shows no such side effect.
Discuss with your physician before using any drug or supplement. Your doctor may recommend a specific treatment approach for your unique sleep concern. Such therapies may include both medication and behavioral therapy.
If you’ve been using sleep aids for too long, or experience some undesirable reactions from your medications, discuss this with your doctor right away.
Initial research shows CBD and sleep studies show promise. As always, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for advice.