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I have a lot of trouble falling asleep. I’m thinking about taking an over-the-counter sleeping pill. Is it safe?

The quick answer is: it depends. Over-the-counter sleeping pills can be safe if taken for two weeks or less. But they can cause unpleasant side effects—making you groggy, interfering with thinking or driving—and they can dangerously interact with your other prescriptions.

Sleeping pill must dos and don’ts

  • Follow the instructions. Take only as prescribed.
  • Don’t combine with alcohol. The combination increases the sedative effect of the sleeping pills and can cause death.
  • Use sleeping pills sparingly. It’s easy to get addicted. Over time, you may not be able to fall asleep without them.
  • See a doctor. If you have sleeping problems for more than two weeks, get help.

Try natural methods before skipping straight to pills. Activities like taking a warm shower, listening to light music, reading, or sketching can help.

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