Based on the popularity of our All-Natural Sleep Aid (it’s a top seller this summer), it seems a lot of people are having trouble falling and/or staying asleep. We addressed the topic of sleep in our last two blog posts – why we need sleep and how to improve sleep hygiene. We’re rounding out this series with the facts on the most popular prescription, over-the-counter, and all-natural sleep aids.
Melatonin is the most popular all-natural sleep aid. Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces and releases into the bloodstream when it receives signals that it’s time for sleep, such as darkness and quiet.
Knowing this, it may seem intuitive that putting more melatonin in the body through supplementation will increase drowsiness and improve sleep. However, supplemental melatonin doesn’t have the same effect as natural melatonin.
In order to have any effect on the body, the hormone needs to bind to receptors located in the brain. The blood brain barrier – a “filter” between the blood vessels in your brain and the blood vessels in the rest of your body – does not allow melatonin (among many other things) to cross through to the brain. While natural melatonin is produced in and confined to the brain, orally-ingested melatonin cannot get to the brain to be effective.
Despite popularity, the countless studies done on oral melatonin supplementation are inconclusive at best, meaning the melatonin is either no more effective than placebo or entirely ineffective when compared to placebo.
Two of the most popular over-the-counter sleep aids are diphenhydramine (e.g. Benadryl, Tylenol PM, ZzzQuil) and doxylamine succinate (e.g. Unisom, NyQuil). These medications are antihistamines and their main purpose is allergy relief, but drowsiness is a side effect, so many people use them as sleep aids.
Since they’re not intended for sleep, they may not be the best choice. While they can help you to fall asleep, you still may have trouble staying asleep once the antihistamine wears off.
There’s the potential to build a tolerance to this type of drug, meaning you’ll need to continue upping your dose over time for it to have the same effect on your body. Studies also show long-term antihistamine use linked to accelerated cognitive decline, so medical professionals typically only recommend them as a temporary sleep aid for 14 consecutive days or less.
Ambien is the most popular prescription sleep aid in the U.S. and is very effective at making one feel drowsy and fall asleep quickly. However, it’s not great for staying asleep. Many patients report waking up a few hours after taking the medication and not getting a full, restful night’s sleep.
Ambien is a highly addictive drug and classified as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Like the antihistamines, the body can build a tolerance to Ambien, which is a concerning issue given its addictive properties. As higher doses are needed to feel the same effects, there’s an even greater risk of addiction.
Ambien also comes with serious side effects. On top of morning grogginess, the medication can cause suicidal thoughts and sleepwalking. “Sleepwalking” is often an understatement for those taking Ambien – there have been reports of people driving cars and even murders without any recollection in the morning.
A Safe and Effective Alternative
Given the limitations and dangers of other sleep aids, Dr. Mac's Naturals is proud to bring an all-natural, non-habit forming, and drug-free product to the market.
Our All-Natural Sleep Aid is formulated with valerian root extract, passion flower extract, and hops extract – a trio of ingredients that has been clinically tested against Ambien and found to be just as effective with no risk of addiction and no negative side effects.
Try it for yourself – we’re closing out this blog series with 25% off our Sleep Aid! Enter promo code “SLEEP” at checkout for 25% off a single bottle or 3-pack. Promo code expires 8/11 at 11:59PM EST.