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Sometimes your body needs help falling asleep. It is not a great situation to be in, for sure, but getting the relief of rest is very important. This page lists medication options of varying degrees of intensity to help assist sleep.

Again, please note to consult your doctor before taking any of these medications.

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Melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical in your body which lends to the natural sleep cycle. Melatonin is not a sleep aid and should not be treated as such. Do not try to take a large dose of melatonin and expect it to knock you out.

Melatonin is not guaranteed to make you fall asleep, but it can help you feel comfortable with the idea of sleep, or make you feel naturally tired. I have had mixed results personally, but now tend to take 3mg an hour or so before bed. Melatonin can be found at most markets or pharmacies.


Unisom is a commonly available sleep aid tablet. It's basically Benadryl (the gels, at least), a sedating antihistamine. Unisom can help with light sleeping issues, or to help get you back to sleep if you have woken up, but beware that you may feel groggy in the morning. Think of this as your entry level real sleep pill. I highly recommend trying melatonin first before moving on to Unisom.

If you're anything like me, you may take Unisom and find it helps once or twice, but doesn't provide a solid solution to a longer term problem. Don't double up dosage. Even though this may not be very unsafe, it's not worth it if the normal dosage is not working.

Unisom claims to be non-habit forming, but like all sleep aids, it runs the risk of creating a reliance. Be judicious with dosage.

Unisom is available in most pharmacies.

Other Options

Tylenol PM

The sleep aid ingredient in Tylenol PM is the same one as in Unisom, so you might as well just go for Unisom. If you have Tylenol PM on hand, it is worth taking, but routinely taking it can lead to unwanted side effects

Ambien, etc.

You may exhaust this list of options and find that nothing is working. Eventually, you may turn to a stronger medication, such as Ambien. I'm probably not the first to tell you that Ambien (and all prescription sleep aids) comes with a laundry list of side effects, none of which are pleasant.

Ambien was the medication that first routinely worked for me, but it took a great deal of personal preparation to use it, and I was desperate for a good night's sleep. Talk to your doctor and explore options. Taking prescription sleep aids is a big step up from anything else listed here. I highly encourage you to explore non-medicinal alternatives before trying a hard drug.

Furthermore, if you do get a sleep aid prescription, prepare to get off of it from day 1. Again, even if the pill is not habit forming, your body will gravitate towards the easiest way to fall asleep, and often, that is "the pill."

Buy a pill cutter, and plan to ween off of the dosage once you have found that your sleep schedule is back on track.

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