Consumer Reports: Be Careful with Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids


If you’ve ever had trouble falling asleep and thought about using over-the-counter sleep aids, you might want to hold off. Many of the drugs are labeled “non-habit forming” but as Barry Levy shows us in today's Consumer Report, there can be risks in taking them.

Oh, sorry about that...we're on aren't we. I have never had trouble falling asleep but millions of people do. So before you reach for one of these...a sleep aid...just realize that as they send you off to dream land...they can also be dangerous.

Tara Matthews has had chronic insomnia on and off for years. She relied on over the counter sleep aids to help her fall asleep.

Tara Matthews, Uses OTC Medication
“When I can’t fall asleep it makes me very anxious because I know how much I have to do the next day. “

What Tara didn’t know is that over-the-counter sleep aids typically contain antihistamines that can make you sleepy.

Lisa Gill, Best Buy Drugs Consumer Reports
“Although these ingredients are not physically addictive, there can be a risk of psychological dependency.”

In fact a Consumer Reports national survey found 20-percent have taken over-the-counter sleep medication within a year. And in that group almost 1 in 5 took them on a daily basis. Most concerning - 41 percent said they took them for a year or longer.

At the time of their approval as over-the-counter sleep aids, there was not enough evidence to show that the drugs caused dependence, so the label “non-habit forming” still remains.

The FDA tells Consumer Reports using a sleep aid for 2 weeks or less at the labeled dose makes it  “...very unlikely that the consumer will become dependent on it.” 

But Tara says she’s not convinced.
“Maybe I would have looked for alternatives sooner.”

A couple suggestions to getting some some sleep, don't watch TV in bed, no napping during the day, stay off the caffeine, and workout regularly but not close to bedtime and you'll sleep like a baby.

National Sleep Foundation-Healthy Sleep tips

Sleeping Well-Steps for Better Sleep

Tips for Better Sleep

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.


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