Turn Off the Day and Catch Some Serious ZZZ’s With These Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids

best over the counter sleep aid
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Who doesn’t feel their best after a great night’s sleep? There’s almost nothing better than waking up after a sound night of deep sleep and taking on the day well-rested. The goal of optimal sleep hygiene, however, has become harder and harder to attain as screens, stress and body aches have infiltrated our beds and continually disrupted our slumber. No more — with the help of gravity blankets, high-quality mattresses, blackout shades and super soft sheets we can reclaim our nights of sleep and feel better because of it. We’ll also probably need a few over the counter sleep aids to tip us over the edge into snooze town.

Over the counter sleep aids are sleep inducers that don’t require a doctor’s prescription to buy or take, and they range in effectiveness, safety as well as ingredients. First off, we want to make it clear that no one on the Spy team is a doctor or sleep specialist, and our advice is purely based on reviews, research and anecdotal evidence. Please consult your doctor before adding any medicine, natural or otherwise, to your routine.

Over the counter sleep aids are typically not physiologically addicting, meaning your body doesn’t get hooked on them in the same way it can prescription drugs. They’re designed to be non-habit forming, but some believe they’re also not designed for sustained long-term use, so they shouldn’t be the only method used for better sleep each night. It’s also recommended that you don’t take more than the recommended dosage, consult your doctor before taking them and don’t mix them with alcohol. Some users may also experience a hangover effect the next day and wake up feeling drowsy, which can increase the risk of using them if you plan to drive, operate heavy machinery or do something that requires intense focus.

As with everything health-wise, moderation is key as well as mixing methods together so you’ve got a balance. Sleep aids may work the best when paired with less screen time at night, physical exercise during the day and avoiding large meals right before bedtime. With all that being said, if that last cup of coffee at 4pm was a mistake and you’re looking for a way to still get your 7-9 hours — these are the best over the counter sleep aids we could find.

1. Amazon Basic Care Sleep Aid Tablets


These sleep tablets from Amazon have stellar reviews, and come in a package of 96 for less than $7. They’re not all-natural and do contain the active ingredient doxylamine succinate. They’re designed to reduce difficulty falling asleep with just one tablet and contain no pain reliever, you’re only getting the sleep aid you need. Many users raved about the pill’s effectiveness in helping to soothe an active mind and noted it worked better than other sleep aids and even prescription sleeping pills.

amazon basics sleep aid, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon


2. Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets


This sleep aid is drug-free and contains melatonin — the naturally-occurring hormone in our bodies that manages our sleep cycle. The balance of this sleep hormone can be disrupted easily with inconsistent sleep schedules, stress and other causes — and this sleep aid could help to balance it out. It’s designed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, and establish healthy sleeping patterns overall. The tablets dissolve quickly and have a pleasant strawberry flavor.

natrol melatonin sleep aid, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon


3. ZzzQuil Nighttime Sleep Aid


ZzzQuil is the sleep aid from the makers of NyQuil, the cold & flu remedy, and it’s designed to help you fall asleep in as little as 20 minutes. You’ll need to allot 7-8 hours for sleeping in order to wake up feeling refreshed the following day, and to avoid drowsiness, but it’s an effective sleep aid from the world’s #1 sleep aid brand. The two-capsule dose contains 50mg of Diphenhydramine HCI, a non-habit-forming active ingredient added to promote snoozing quickly.

Zzzquil sleep aid capsules, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon


4. OLLY Sleep Melatonin Gummies


Who doesn’t prefer their vitamins and supplements in gummy form? These gummies from OLLY, an excellent vitamin brand, are made with L-Theanine, melatonin, chamomile and lemon balm to help restore your natural sleep cycle and encourage calm at bedtime. These gummy vitamins are designed to make taking vitamins and supplements fun. All you need to do is chew two of their gummies at bedtime to feel the effects. They also come in a child-resistant, environmentally-friendly bag with a secure opening system that uses less plastic.

OLLY sleep melatonin gummies, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon


5. ZzzQuil Melatonin Sleep Aid Gummies


This is similar to the ZzzQuil option included above, except that it’s drug-free and made in gummy form rather than a capsule. They’re designed to help you fall asleep naturally and are formulated with just the right amount of melatonin to stay asleep and not wake up groggy. The melatonin is mixed with a blend of calming essential oils including lavender, chamomile, valerian root and lemon balm. The gummies also come in a delicious wildberry vanilla flavor that are fun to take, contain no artificial flavoring and non-habit forming.

Zzzquil natural sleep aid gummies, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon


6. Tylenol PM Extra Strength Pain Reliever & Sleep Aid


Sometimes it’s not our busy minds that keep us awake but our achy bodies, and Tylenol is one of the best sleep aids if you’re sore and need pain relief in order to slip into slumber. Each caplet contains the pain reliever acetaminophen and an active ingredient for sleep, diphenhydramine. It’s also designed to be non-habit forming, but shouldn’t be used without pain present or in children 12 years old or younger.

Tylenol PM sleep aid, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon


7. Genius Sleep AID Supplement


This supplement contains bio-optimizing ingredients for better sleep, less adrenal fatigue, mood support and anxiety reduction. Your brain doesn’t do well on very little sleep, and this supplement is designed to improve cognitive function through helping you get a better night’s sleep. It contains Inositol, L-Theanine and Glycine, and less than 1mg of melatonin. It also contains a caffeine eliminating ingredient rutaecarpine that works to support your adrenals and avoid burnout. Improve the quality of your sleep, performance and life with this highly-rated, dynamic supplement.

genius sleep aid, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon


8. Kirkland Signature Sleep Aid


This sleep aid from Kirkland Signature is highly-rated for its effectiveness and costs a little more than $6 for 96 capsules, a bargain. It contains the sleep aid doxylamine succinate formulated to achieve deep sleep faster, and contains only one capsule per dose. It’s perfect for occasional disruptions to your sleep pattern and keeping on hand in case you have too much coffee too late in the afternoon. Some users did say they felt groggy upon waking up after their great night’s sleep, so if you drive first thing in the morning you may want to consider another aid.

kirkland signature sleep aid, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon


9. Physician’s Choice Sleep Aid With Valerian Root


These sleeping pills are doctor-approved to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for a great night’s rest. It’s made by a team of doctors dedicated to creating products that work, and is made with 100% natural ingredients that work despite being drug-free. It’s made with Suntheanine and L-Theanine, two natural sleep promoters, and is tested for purity by a third party. The sleep aid is also formulated to support deep sleep without grogginess or a hangover in the morning.

physician's choice sleep aid, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon


10. Unisom SleepTabs Nighttime Sleep-Aid


Another great sleep option is Unisom, a tablet that contains the sleep aid Doxylamine succinate and was proven to help you fall asleep 33% faster, versus a placebo in a clinical study. The tablets are designed to be non-habit forming and help you recharge without needing to battle grogginess in the morning. It’s a one-tablet dose and was the #1 pharmacist-recommended sleep aid in the 2019 Pharmacy Times Survey.

Unisom sleep tablets, best over the counter sleep aid Courtesy of Amazon