New anxieties, remote job stress, and increased screen time all create an environment for reasons to stay up at night. More patients today are turning to their healthcare professionals for help as they suffer with sleep problems and the consequences of not getting enough rest. Many common OTC sleep aids are now being discouraged for some populations based on certain medical conditions, comorbidities associated with lack of sleep, and age group. While these products are relatively safe, PROs recognize OTC sleep aids should be reconsidered for some cases.
What PROs Should Consider
Healthcare PROs should consider the short-term benefits compared to the potential for dependency, and documented side effects, for some of the patient population. Research and years of consumer use has shown that OTC sleep aids can have negative side effects for some users and can further exacerbate some medical conditions.
Common OTC Sleep Aids
Over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids were first made available more than 30 years ago and became popular because of their low toxicity rating and mild effects for occasional users. The most common OTC sleeping aids contain 1st generation antihistamines that work by interrupting normal brain receptor activity. This interruption provides a calming effect and slight dissociation from your waking thoughts to help users fall asleep easier or stay asleep longer. Long-term use of sleep aids is not advised and could result in a build-up of tolerance build-up or increased experiences of certain side effects.
- > Nytol Original
- > Sominex
- > Advil PM
- > Tylenol PM
- > Sleepeaze
How It Works:Diphenhydramine (DPH) is a potent competitive receptor antagonist and works by blocking histamine and acetylcholine in the body. This medication is suggested for short-term insomnia and is usually taken 20 minutes before bedtime to help users fall asleep and/or stay asleep longer.
Side-Effects + Considerations:DPH affects H1 receptors located throughout the body and has been shown to be prone to dependency and abuse by long-term users. Patients with various cardiac conditions should be advised against using this sleep aid because of the products effect on QT intervals and the associated risk of sudden cardiac death. DPH should also be reconsidered for aging populations as studies have shown an increased dementia risk associated with the use of sedatives of this class.
- > Unisom SleepTabs
- > Alka-Seltzer Plus Night Time
- > Care One Sleep Aid
- > Equate Sleep Aid
- > Nyquil