A Guide to Nighttime Sleep Aids: Which is Right for You?

Can’t sleep? 

Not being able to sleep leads to poor attentiveness and energy the next day, which can lead to even worse sleep patterns down the road. 

Is there a right way to fix your sleeping problems? Well... it depends on the person. But, as long as you’re approaching things with some measure of caution, there are lots of things you can try!

Why Are You Sleeping Poorly?

Millions of Americans suffer from sleep issues every year. Why? Well, it depends. 

It could be from something like narcolepsy, or maybe a slightly misaligned spine, or even just too much screen time before bed. Either way, some of the common causes have popular options to neutralize or help the issue. However, popular doesn’t always mean correct. 

Common Causes of Sleep Issues

There are multiple factors that can cause someone to sleep poorly, these are just a few:

Sleeping Disorders

Insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, sleepwalking, and more! There are many different types of sleeping disorders, all with their own levels of intensity. 

Lack of Exercise

You see it on television screens and on big billboards, you heard it growing up from your family and teachers -- exercise is good for you! Consistent exercise not only can help prevent a multitude of health issues, it can also be great for restful sleep. 

Poor Diet

Having a poor diet can affect every aspect of your health, it’s a stereotype for a reason. Better diet usually equals better overall health and in return, a higher chance of better sleep!

Chronic Pain

Pain, especially chronic pain, can be one of the hardest things to deal with in life. Unfortunately, it can extend to your sleeping habits and make restful sleep seem nearly impossible. 

Mental Health Conditions

Poor mental health can have similar effects as chronic pain when it comes to disrupting sleep, especially if medication is involved. Medication can affect your sleeping habits just as much as your specific health condition, and talking to a doctor about how to best go about getting good-quality sleep while on your medications or while dealing with your condition is very important. 

Overuse of Alcohol or Caffeine

This is likely another warning you’ve heard before in terms of overall health. Too much of anything isn’t good for you, but in the case of alcohol and other stimulants, that point is especially true. Alcohol may make you sleepy to begin with, but it often leads to fitful sleep. Stimulants like caffeine can make it hard to fall asleep, even when the caffeine crash finally hits you. 


Stress can make it hard to fall asleep, usually due to an overactive brain. It can also exacerbate any other health issues you may have, which can also make sleeping well a hard task. 

Jet Lag or Poor Sleep Habits

Things that disrupt a normal sleeping pattern can be hard to fix. Jet lag, shift workers, and other instances are included. These changes disrupt your circadian rhythm (internal clock) and messes up your normal sleep and wake pattern. Sometimes, this is what you want, especially for shift workers. However, for many it can cause a big issue.

What Are Easy Ways For You To Sleep Better?

The simplest ways to help you improve your quality of sleep are through a few lifestyle changes

These changes require consistency for you to feel the full effects, and habits can be hard to change. 

Some changes include:

  • Getting daily exercise 
  • Eating healthy and not eating too late at night 
  • Getting fresh air and exposure to natural light during the day
  • Reducing blue light at night 
  • Making sure your bedroom is temperature controlled and quiet
  • Limiting caffeine, alcohol, and stimulants before bed

Sleeping Aids: Which is Right for You?

Popping a pill seems easiest, but is it the best choice? Also, will the pill actually do anything to help your specific issue?

There are supplements and medications that may help aid sleep, making falling asleep a faster process and staying asleep easier. However, not every aid is created equal. Also, there are some other options you may want to consider too, outside of pills. 

Supplements, Medications, Etc

One of the first things people recommend when you say you can’t sleep is to take a pill, or a gummy, or anything that says PM on it, regardless of what else it was designed for. 

Most of what is recommended are medications. However, there are a few supplements that have been growing in popularity as well. 

Melatonin (Supplement)

A supplement imitating a hormone that your body naturally produces, helping regulate your internal clock and your sleep patterns. We have our very own sleep gummy right here at Hope Health that has 5mg of melatonin to help you catch those zzz’s. 

Diphenhydramine (Medication)

An antihistamine found in most popular OTC allergy meds like Bendaryl. A side effect is drowsiness but some people take this to induce sleep (which we don’t quite recommend!). 

Valerian (Supplement)

A supplement that has shown some effectinesses in helping with sleeping issues, but it has the least amount of research done on it out of these four options. Therefore, the evidence on whether or not it helps cannot fully be reliable. 

Doxylamine (Medication)

An antihistamine that can help with sleep and your respiratory system. It can also be used in inflammation-reducing medications. 

In terms of medications, most people don’t realize that the majority of sleep aids are just antihistamine-based substances that are nearly identical in formula, but are just packaged in dozens of different ways. The problem with antihistamines is that although they do affect histamine receptors which can help aid sleep, they’re very likely to affect that receptor past the time you need it to work for. 

Other Tools You Can Use To Help Aid Sleep

If you’re not inclined to use supplements or medications to help aid your poor sleep, why not try a few of these:

Heating Pads

Heating pads can help lull you to sleep for a few different reasons. One, is that warmth is associated with comfort and sleep, another is that it can help alleviate pain. Many women have become familiar with heating pads as a way to reduce pain felt on their periods. 

However, heating pads can be helpful for many types of pain like general muscle aches, a knotted neck, or a sore back, among other things. 

Firm Pillows

Some people prefer flat pillows, or no pillows at all rather than a thick pillow. But if you’re dealing with sleeping issues, finding a firm pillow of a thicker quality can actually help you get a more restful sleep. Thicker, denser pillows are often better for sleep because they help to align your body correctly. They’re also recommended for those with chronic pain and migraine issues due to this fact. 

Essential Oils 

Like dietary supplements, essential oils are not regulated by the FDA but have shown promise. Studies show that aromatherapy can be good for sleep and of the scents, lavender has proven to be the most effective oil that aids deep sleep, relaxing effect.

White Noise Machines

For those who have trouble falling asleep due excessive noise, or perhaps not enough noise, white noise machines can be very helpful at lulling you to sleep. If you don’t have a machine, a fan can work just as well!

To Conclude

Not sleeping well is hard, and choosing what you want to help you can be even harder. 

Many find relief with something as simple as a lifestyle change, while others need medications or supplements like melatonin, and some may find aromatherapy or a good pillow to be all they need. 

However, there is a chance that none of these can help, although unlikely. In that case, it is important to meet with a doctor and a sleep specialist to discuss your options.