Addicted to OTC Sleep Aids - Any Alternatives?

EebeFebruary 1, 2002

Hi -

For a really long time, my sig. other and I have been taking every night an OTC sleep aid (Target brand - Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride 50 mg)plus 1 melatonin - 3 mg.

Before that, we were taking 1 Ambien - 10 mg., every night.

This has been going on a very long time. I know that it's due to my insomnia, but I don't know what else to do.

Our doctor was prescribing the Ambien for a long time and then didn't want to prescribe it anymore. He said, "why don't you try melatonin. Well, that wasn't enough.

I know this isn't a good habit to have, but just wondering if anybody knows what else we can do. I always have Sleepytime tea, but it's just soothing, doesn't put me to sleep.

Thank you.

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I can't think of the name, but there is some new sleep aid pill on the market that is supposedly all natural. Supposedly you take if for a few weeks or so, and then they claim you will have learned how to go to sleep at night.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2002 at 9:39PM
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Wow; Ambien. I can't take that; it makes me so hung over the next day but I couldn't sleep without it so I stopped after a week. Honestly, I've been taking prescription meds for sleeping for sixteen years. Hard to believe looking back that far but it's true. I'm able to alternate them, increase or decrease dosage acc. to how I'm feeling; I'm getting used to it. I'd rather just snooze away; just drop off at will like my husband but nope; tonight I'll have 1/4mg of Xanax and 5mg of Buspar. I refuse to think about ten years from now-what I'll be doing then. But that OTC med you mentioned?
Gave me nightmares. Can't take it. Just try cutting back gradually. If you find yourself Increasing dosages then you need to be concerned. So just cut back. I've read that the less Melatonin you take the more effective it is. I used to take that too. I took 1mg under the tongue; peppermint. Worked great for a long time. Binkie

    Bookmark   February 2, 2002 at 10:24PM
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ALL sleep aids are addictive after such long term use, and you need to try really hard to stop taking them. Try all the normal stuff (taking a hot bath, deep breathing, etc.) plus some Tension Tamer tea (Celestial Seasonings)... you will probably have some sleepless nights, because your body is so used to the drugs now. But eventually your body WILL get tired, and will allow you to sleep on your own again. Cut out all caffeine, make sure you exercise, drink lots of water, eat dinner early, and do something relaxing before bed. I know none of these are quick fixes, and some are not fun (like exercising) but if you want a healthy alternative, that is the only way to go! Good luck, I've been there!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2002 at 10:56PM
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I've used Calms Forte, a homeopathic sleep aid for years. In fact, an extended early evening nap has left me wide awake at bedtime tonight and I just took two pills about 20 minutes ago. I'm feeling sleepy already. These pills are safe and contain natural things like Valerian and Chamomile. Calms Forte has been around for years so it must work for many people.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2002 at 11:43PM
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May I suggest contacting a sleep clinic? There are some really good treatment options available and a clinic could help you deal with your insommnia without having to use any aids.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2002 at 8:45PM
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your taking you have a hang over in the am? can't rem. the name OTC same stuff blue oval....break it in 3 peices use 1 peice under your tounge and let it disolve don't drink water put in ear plugs and go to sleep

    Bookmark   January 30, 2003 at 1:27PM
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My doctor was very reluctant to put me on Ambien; he only gave me 12 pills. It is a controlled substance - that is why most doctors are hesitant. However, it would have been nice if your doctor could help you find alternatives besides just suggesting melatonin, since you were addicted to a controlled substance. Benadryl gives me nightmares, sometimes, too. If I take it too late at night I feel like crap the next day. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is in probably 98 percent of the OTC sleep aids: Nytol, Sominex, Sleepinal, etc. They're all the same.

Sometimes the thing that helps me is physical activity in the early evening. Not too late; otherwise you will be kept up. Or a routine. Hot bath, long book before bed; something like that. Trying to clear your mind before sleep can help because sometimes racing thoughts keeps you awake. I would suggest the sleep clinic, too. Do you just have trouble falling asleep or do you wake frequently? You could have sleep apnea.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2003 at 7:26PM
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Tough it out.......dump the drugs and just go cold turkey. You WILL sleep after a night or 2.....and you'll feel so much better for doing it naturally.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 31, 2003 at 12:23AM
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Eebe -
There are ABSOLUTELY NO SLEEP AIDS (herbal, OTC, or prescription) that can be taken long term and stay effective. The "cold turkey" suggestion is a good one.

And exactly what do you mean by "insomnia"? Difficulty falling asleep? Wake up often during the night? Wake up "too early" and can't go back to sleep?

What is your lifestyle like? Exercise? Diet? Work stress?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2003 at 7:46AM
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Lazygardens is right - after a while they lose most of their effectiveness and it is then psychological. You could try seeing a therapist, or ask your doctor about alternatives to drugs.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2003 at 10:09AM
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Melatonin is a good thing to use, it's a naturally occuring substance in the body. You can ask your pharmacist. Have you ever tried a rocking chair for relaxation? It's the best thing I've ever found.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2003 at 1:00AM
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I sometimes have trouble falling asleep, and sometimes I fall asleep but wake up in the middle of the night. I get out of bed and make myself a cup of cocoa, made with milk and not alot of cocoa mix, and I take either valerian or melatonin and I am soon asleep. I take the valerian if I still have many hours to sleep. Melatonin is used for more naplike sleep, so if I have to get up in three hours I use that.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2003 at 6:29PM
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Interesting thread... I've actually been having a lot of trouble sleeping...especially when I have anxiety. I'll find myself forcing my eyes shut and just having every little thing race through my mind as well as hear every little creak and crack around me. Next thing I know I check the clock and it's already an hour later! So I've lost an hour of sleep! Then I try to calm down and nothing seems to work on some nights. I too picked up a bottle of Calms Forte tonight on recommendation of a friend, so I'm going to see if I can take the homeopathic route first. Wish me luck... **Eebe, How are things going for you now?**

    Bookmark   October 16, 2004 at 4:14AM
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I think what Bridget is getting out of her cocoa is magnesium. That can help with sleep. I have used bendryl and all sorts of things to sleep. I tend to lose all reason when I am sleep deprived. One thing that helped me was to sleep colder. I read that the reason that hot baths help us to go to sleep is because our bodies are "shocked" by the cold when we come out rather than because we are relaxed by the heat. I have removed the electric blanket from my bed and if I am not having a hot bath, I go outside for a few minutes with the dog for just a slight chill. It sounds nutty, but I understand that there is medical evidence to back this up.

I suspect it makes a lot of difference whether you aren't sleeping because of stress or because of pain. I find there is little I can do about stress unless it is very mild. My doctor prescribed Trazadone for those nights. When it is pain, as it often is, I am pretty much sunk because my stomach can't handle asperin, ibuprofen, or codeine.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2004 at 5:26PM
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Hi guys,

This might sound like a simple way of looking at this problem, but maybe the answer is a real slow modem connection. I usually waste time on the computer late in the evening, and often download some really slow loading webpages that take a few minutes to complete and open. This is one sure way for me to become drowsy, waiting and watching for the page to slowly load. I have to be careful that I don't shut my eyes too long while I'm waiting and fall asleep, since I'd fall off my chair. I'm even a heavy coffee drinker, so coffee doesn't usually cause me any problems if I have it late in the evening.

My wife is one who can be dead tired and still be unable to fall asleep. She uses a cassette player with earphones, and has a collection of books on tape. These used to work for her, but not as well now. I think her biggest problem is that she worries too much and this affects her sleep pattern, as worrying would cause problems for anyone.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2004 at 11:14PM
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I've tried just about everything on the market for my lack of sleep and so far I'm having the best success with an herbal sleep aid called SnoozeEase. It makes me feel relaxed and I usually wake up feeling refreshed. This is something those over prescription and OTC products couldn't do. They do know you out but they never make you feel refreshed.

Here is a link that might be useful: SnoozeEase

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 12:10AM
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Yep, I have the exact problem as you. OTC sleeping pills almost every night. I mean, it's not as if they even work anymore. Just waisting my money and probably short-circuiting my brain,

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 2:05AM
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What is your lifestyle like? Exercise? Diet? Work stress?

My question exactly. After making major lifestyle changes a few years ago, I now sleep through the night -- every night. Prior to that I woke up every night and couldn't get back to sleep. If you're not eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting enough natural sunlight, and coping well with stress, a pill isn't the best solution.

I agree with the suggestion to go cold turkey, but ONLY if it is safe to do so. Some medications should not be stopped abruptly, so check before you do.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 1:34AM
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I've only had insomnia once in my life a few years ago. I didn't sleep for 5 days. Not even 5 minutes! I would stay in bed all day believing that I will automatically fall asleep eventually. Come on!!! Nope. It lasted 5 days. I was soooo tired that I think I cried after a couple days. The pain from my RA was bad too cuz when you're tired, you have pain because you're so weak from exhaustion.

When I seen the doc later on, I mentioned that I just couldn't FALL ASLEEP. I only sleep anywhere from 2-4 hours straight a night anyways. If I could fall asleep, it would be okay. He gave me some sleeping pills that were good for 3 hours. Just strong enough to make me fall asleep. I never took them. Haven't had insomnia since either. After reading the pamphlet, I couldn't take them anyways. It shuts off some type of brain cells to make you sleep. Think I'll keep my brain cells in tack!!! LOL

My mom (77 years) used to take sleeping pills. She cut down on the times she's taken them. She went down to half a pill every 3 nights or so.

My SIL, she'll take 2 and still can't sleep! She's been on them so long that they no longer work. Nothing works for her now.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 4:03PM
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Here's a good free article about how to overcome insomnia and sleep disorders without sleep aids. Hope it helps!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 9:14PM
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I'm not sure if this is still relevant, but one thing that works for me 99% of the time is a technique called 'Paradoxical Intention'. The term was coined by a man named Victor Frankl back just after the second world war. Anyways, it tackles a peculiar state known as 'anticipatory anxiety'. Bascially how it works is you try as hard as possible to inhibit a behaviour with the effect being that it is almost impossible to do that so you end up expressing that behaviour. How it would work with a sleeping disorder (and has worked with me consistently) is that I lie in bed and tell myself 'You can't go to sleep you have to stay up all night. You HAVE to stay up all night.. you HAVE to stay up all night... you can't fall asleep, you HAVE to stay up all night.. and after about 1-2 minutes, sometimes longer I am out like a light. Sometimes my mind will wander but I bring it back to that internal chant and it seems to work! If you give it a try I hope it works out for you. Cheers & best of health and wealth to you.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 3:36PM
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Any sleep aid is going to cause a dependency. Whatever you use will lead you to needing a heavier dose. My Sis is now up to 40 mg of melatonin. The key to sleeping well is to exercise, work hard, garden, etc., during the day so you are tired and stay up late. read in bed or watch a movie until you get sleepy. It may take you awhile to get over using something.

I have a fatty tumor in the sleep area of my brain and have always had trouble sleeping, more now than ever before because I can't garden and work hard. When I joined the Y a few years ago and took the water arthritis class, I slept better. I also swam a few laps when I finished, it really helped me.

This post was edited by EmmaR on Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 21:30

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 4:53PM
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I am a diagnosed insomniac - have been to a sleep disorder clinic. I can't take over the counter sleep aids because they all seem to contain the same ingredient that is used in anti-histamines and decongestants - and I am allergic to said cold meds. I can't take codeine either. The "happy" shot before surgery doesn't take and a local that should keep an area numb for a couple of hours will burn off in 5 minutes - so procedures don't scare me, it is the knowing that I will feel the pain that does it. So I count to 3 and wait for it. I woke up still in the operating room after the surgeons yanked out a kidney stone and remembered the names of all of the nurses and doctors. I tried the Cdn. equivalent of Ambien - 5 days later I was still up. When I wake up - usually after 3 or 4 hours sleep I am instantly alert - should have been a brain surgeon. My husband has witnessed it - he wakes up and then goes back to sleep - but not me. And I have tried everything. The tapes knocked my husband and aunt out - all they did was irritate the heck out of me. I am in quite in good health for a 63 year old but as my doctor said I have these issues that make life miserable. I don't take pain killers either. Re Vioxx - I get migraines and zip worked - except Vioxx had the side effect of working on migraines. I only took one when desperate - so if I had 30 pills I would have 26 three years later. I was about to pop one when the recall notice came on the news so I didn't. I don't have a condition that would be aggravated by Vioxx, but no point in risking it. Good thing that I have perfect blood pressure even when I appear to be bouncing off the walls - the gold standard. It makes life hard though because it was hard enough when I was younger when people were constantly telling me how tired I looked - and at 63 well I do look older and tired. It is really hard to make plans not knowing how I will feel. I eat nothing from a can/box or anything that has been preserved to the best of my ability. I only eat anti-biotic free meat - which in Canada means our food bills are high.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:56PM
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