There are a number of medications available for treating primary insomnia. These range from prescription medications like Ambien to over the counter sleeping aids like Tylenol PM. There are also medications that can address underlying causes of insomnia, like benzodiazepines for treating anxiety. In most cases though, it is preferable to treat insomnia through good sleep hygiene when possible.
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body and can be helpful in some people with insomnia. It appears to be safe but is marketed as a dietary supplement and thus is not regulated by the FDA. The recommended dose for insomnia is 3 mg but is also sold in higher doses.
Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that is in such sleep aids as Tylenol PM, Advil PM, Nytol, Sominex and Unisom. Tylenol PM and Advil Pm also contain a pain reliever. You should not take a pain reliever every night if you are not experiencing pain. Antihistamines can cause dry mouth, blurred vision and daytime sleepiness.
The potential benefits of any medication for insomnia need to be weighed against the risks (side effects, addiction, cost). These medications work in the brain to cause a feeling of sleepiness. They vary in how quickly they work and how long the effect lasts.
This list of drugs and medications are often used to treat insomnia. While we have attempted to include most of the drugs used in the mental health field for insomnia, there are likely some that we have missed. Also, this list and any information related to drugs and medications on this website should ONLY be used as supplemental information, and should in no way be used in place of your physician or healthcare practioner.