Are Natural Sleep Aids Safer Than Prescription Sleep Aids?

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Written By Berry Mathew

According to the National Institute of Health, at least 7% to 19% of adults in the US are reportedly not getting sufficient sleep. This percentage totals more than a third of American adults not getting seven to nine hours of sleep. The result is an increase in the use of sleep aids. While the increase in the use of sleep aids is a growing concern, lack of sleep comes with far worse consequences.

Some of these consequences include increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, car accidents, and high blood pressure. Rather than risk the above consequence, most people turn to sleep aids to help them sleep. You can find out more about sleep aids from this website.

The two most common sleep aid options are prescription and natural aids. But before discussing whether natural aids are safer than prescription sleep aids, let’s first define the two.

What are Natural Sleep Aids and Prescription Sleep Aids?

First up, natural sleep aids. These are supplements and herbs that help increase relaxation, which, in turn, leads to sleep. They are usually plant-based, a mineral or vitamin that’s already present in your diet, or a small amount of something your body produces.

However, it’s worth noting that there aren’t strict guidelines surrounding the term “natural,”especially for supplements. Most natural sleep aid supplements like melatonin are synthetically derived, which makes them less natural.

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Examples of natural sleep aids include:

  • Melatonin
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Valerian

On the other hand, prescription sleep aids are described as sleeping aids that require you to obtain a prescription from your doctor to obtain them. Hence, the name prescription. Without a doctor’s prescription, it would be impossible to obtain these drugs. Examples of prescription sleeping aids include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Doxepin
  • Lemborexant
  • Eszopiclone

So, which sleep aids are safer, natural sleep aids or prescription sleep aids? Let’s find out!

Which is Safer: Natural Sleep Aids or Prescription Sleep Aids?

We need to look at the qualities of these sleep aids to find out which is safer. The qualities we will discuss include the following:

Side Effects

Every drug doesn’t matter if it’s natural or synthetic, comes with its risks. However, side effects from prescription pills are much higher, particularly because they are much stronger than natural sleep aids. Some common side effects you can expect from natural sleep aids like chamomile, melatonin, and saffron include headaches and sometimes confusion.

However, the side effects are subject to the individual. On the other hand, prescription sleep aids do come with several severe side effects like:

  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Depression

Several studies have also found that prescription sleep aids can be linked to increased heart risk. This is why it’s important to have a prescription from your doctor, who will recommend the right dosage to prevent the side effects.

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Another aspect to consider when determining whether natural sleep aids are safer than prescription sleep aids is their addictive nature. Unlike natural sleep aids, prescription sleep aids are powerful, making them unsuitable for long-term use.

Using them regularly can lead to drug dependence. You may end up relying too much on sleeping pills to sleep, or you could end up sleeping worse without those drugs. Using prescription drugs can, over time, cause your body to buildup tolerance to the drugs.

You will have to increase your dosage every so often for the prescription sleep aids to work, which will, in turn, cause more side effects.

Drug Interaction

Some prescription pills can interact with other types of medications. This can, in turn, worsen the side effects or end up becoming dangerous, especially when mixed with other sedatives or prescription killers. This is why doctors enquire beforehand if you are on any medication before prescribing sleeping pills.

On the other hand, natural sleep aids like lavender or chamomile can freely interact with other medications without worsening the effects.


From the attributes above, natural sleep aids are safer than prescription sleep aids. However, for people who suffer from sleep insomnia, natural sleep aids might not help them get the sleep they need. So, before you rush to make that cup of chamomile tea or pop that pill, why not talk to a doctor?

Talking to your doctor about your sleep insomnia will help them know what sleep aids to recommend. You can also try other natural remedies, such as not taking your phone to bed. You never know without all the distractions; you might end up sleeping for at least seven to eight hours without the help of sleep aids.