If You're Using This Without a Doctor's Recommendation, Stop Immediately

Using this without talking to your doctor first can lead to negative side effects.

Sleepless nights can take a toll on us. That's why people do all they can to get a better night's sleep: sleeping in a different positionchanging the color of their bedroom walls, and even using sleep medication. Over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids are in high demand in the United States, which reported $402 million in revenue for OTC sleep medication in 2019 alone. But instead of bringing consumers a good night's rest, this high demand for sleep aids may actually be causing trouble. In fact, experts warn that you should not use sleep medication without a doctor's recommendation. Read on to find out why you should talk to your doctor first, and for more health advice you need to know, discover Why You Shouldn't Lie to Your Eye Doctor About Floaters.

You should talk to your doctor before using sleep aid medication.

A man is at a routine medical appointment. The patient is sitting on an examination table facing his doctor. The kind doctor is listening as he speaks.

Pietro L. Ratti, MD, a neurologist and medical advisor at WhatAsleep, says that while OTC sleep aids are fine to use occasionally, over time people begin to depend on them too much. And if you're planning to use them long-term, Ratti says it's imperative you get a doctor's recommendation first.

"Since every person's health history is different, it's of great importance to consult with a medical professional who can help you find the right aid," Ratti says. "A box of pills can only give you some information, but that's not nearly enough if you plan on using them in the long run." And for more urgent health guidance, find out The One Body Part Doctors Say You Should Never Clean.

This is because every person's sleep aid medication needs are different.

Close up of pill bottle with sick woman in background

But why do you need to talk to a doctor for OTC medication? According to Ratti, there's still a lot to consider when using sleep aids long-term. Your doctor will measure "your age, weight, height, and other aspects of your health history," to suggest the appropriate dosage for various sleep supplements. And for more sensitive matters to discuss with a professional, If You're Pooping This Many Times a Day, You Should See Your Doctor.

And extended use of sleep aids can result in negative side effects.

Woman with a PMS headache

Alex Savy, a certified sleep science coach and founder of SleepingOcean, says that "no sleep aid is actually intended for prolonged usage." This is because relying on sleeping pills for an extended amount of time or in higher doses than necessary can actually increase the likelihood that you will experience negative side effects from the medication, according to Ratti.

And there are many different health risks associated with various sleep aid medications. According to Savy and Ratti, some of these include allergic reactions, prolonged drowsiness the next day, headache, muscle aches, constipation, nausea, dry mouth, trouble concentrating, dizziness, unsteadiness, rebound insomnia, and a high risk of becoming dependent. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Also, you may not actually need medication.

Cropped shot of a young man sleeping in his bed

People are sometimes quick to turn to medication as a quick fix for a sleepless night, but Ratti says your doctor may actually recommend something else.

"Before rushing to take medicine, discuss your daily routine with your health care provider," he says. "Learn whether lifestyle changes could make a difference, such as caffeine consumption, exercise, or relaxation techniques. If this can't solve your problem, then you should consider the medicine." And for more sleep help, Wearing These Just Before Bed Could Help You Sleep, Study Finds.

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