If you've tried all the strategies outlined above and nothing's working, medication or herbal supplements may be the solution. Consult your doctor and read our guide to see which drug or supplement may be right for you.
Benadryl: If you're just beginning to experience mild sleep problems, this non-addictive OTC option contains and ingredient that makes you groggy. Benadryl makes some people feel groggy in the morning and experience memory problems. If this happens, stop taking it.
Melatonin: If you're jet-lagged or work shifts at odd hours, this OTC supplement can help your body reset its clock and combat travel-related sleep issues. The dose varies between 0.5 and 5 mg, so you'll have to experiment to see what works for you.
Ambien, Ambien CR, Lunesta and Rozerem: If you've had sleep issues over an extended period of time, these long-acting prescriptions will give you less of a hangover than other drugs may, but some doctors feel they are addictive. The controlled-release (CR) version will give you a boost after four hours to avoid waking in the middle of the night. Rozerem works somewhat like melatonin and many doctors believe it to be non-addictive.
Sonata: If you wake up in the middle of the night, this fast-acting prescription hypnotic drug is good because it works quickly and doesn't last all night. It works to initiate going back to sleep, but won’t keep you asleep.
Desyrel and Trazodone: If you can't sleep because you're worried or depressed, this antidepressant is less expensive than some of the popular sleep drugs, and it's effective and non-addictive. It works even if you're depressed, as the doses are much lower than for treating depression. One side effect: priapism (which is maintaining erections much longer than you want).
Requip: If you kick constantly, this drug helps with restless leg syndrome. Before you seek out drugs, try drinking some diet tonic water at dinner—the quinine helps quiet muscle cramps.
Other Supplements: The data aren’t good enough to love these, but some patients like valerian root (although it has an energizing effect in 10 percent of people), passion flower, theanine, hops (ask any college student) and melatonin, 0.5 to 3 mg (especially if you’re jet-lagged or working weird shift hours). Calcium (1,200 mg divided between two doses) and magnesium (400 mg) are also helpful. These can help you get to sleep and wake up refreshed with no hangover (which some drugs cause).
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