The sleeping pill of choice for many Americans with insomnia can be purchased over the counter at drug and grocery stores. But a new study shows that many older adults who use OTC sleep aids know little about them and may be using them in ways that do more harm than good.
Americans love over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids. In 2015 we spent $427 million on products like ZzzQuil, Unisom, and Sominex.
These drugs are advertised “for relief of occasional sleeplessness.” Yet many Americans—particularly older adults—use OTC sleep aids several nights a week and may want to consider scaling back because of the side effects.
Many of us assume that over-the-counter drugs are safer than prescription drugs.
Yet the long-term effects of any drug can remain unknown for decades, and now researchers have found a correlation between long-term and/or high-dose use of OTC sleep aids and dementia.
Over-the-counter sleeping pills are readily available at the pharmacy: drugs like ZzzQuil, Benadryl, Unisom and Tylenol PM. All promise sound, refreshing sleep. Just how well do live up to that promise, and are they as harmless as they’re said to be?