4 Sleep Aids Safer than OTC Sleep Meds

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Can’t sleep? You’re not alone. One-third of adults don’t get enough sleep.¹

During a sleepless night, many of us reach for an over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pill—like Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM, or Unisom. But OTCs can leave you with a hangover the next day, making your morning commute dangerous. They can also cause dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, constipation, and a litany of other problems.²

The solution to getting consistent, restful sleep could be as simple as adding some tech to your bedtime routine. I gave these four sleep aids a try and saw some great results.


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Bedtime apps

Abhinav Singh, an expert at SleepFoundation.org, says that one of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep is to limit your phone usage in the bedroom. But for most of us, this isn’t easy. We might need a little outside help in the form of bedtime apps.

These apps will shut down your phone, cut off your access to social apps and the internet, or simply make your phone’s screen grayscale to make doomscrolling and checking up on your favorite celebrities less appealing. 

I used the bedtime mode that can be found in the Digital Wellbeing section of the settings on my Android phone. This mode changes the phone screen to grayscale and mutes calls and alerts. Surprisingly, the lack of color made me put down my phone.

A few apps you can try on your phone to make you stop your scrolling are Sleep Timer, AppDetox, and Flipd: Focus & Study Timer on iOS and Android.



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I was going to sleep sooner and sleeping better after just one night with Morphee by my side.

I must admit, when I first opened Morphee’s box, I was skeptical. It’s a wooden device with three metal keys. It looked very steampunk but useless as a sleep aid. I was wrong.

Morphee has 210 audio sessions that are designed to gently ease and relax the mind and body so that you naturally go to sleep. Sessions include meditation, body relaxing exercises, relaxing noises, and more.

I’ve tried these types of sessions through apps on my phone, but the big problem with these apps is the bright light from the screen and the fact that you need to interrupt your relaxation to close the app when you’re done.

With Morphee, you just set it and forget it. It isn’t connected to the internet and you don’t even need to have it plugged in. You just turn it to the session you want and to an 8 or 12-minute time limit and hit play. 

Layr Customizable Pillow

Layr Customizable Pillow
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I’ll admit that I’m super picky when it comes to pillows. I need a soft—but not too soft—pillow because I sleep on my stomach. I was excited when I found out you can tweak a Layr pilllow to feel just the way you want it.

Layr comes with inserts so you can choose how soft and how tall you want your pillow. For me, this is particularly important because I like a little height in my pillows.

At first, it was a little difficult to figure out the inserts. But once the pillow was assembled, I was hooked. I’ve been sleeping on it ever since.

Weighted blankets

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The Luxome Cooling Weighted Blanket has some backing by science. Many sleep experts believe the pressure of a weighted blanket can cause the body to naturally create melatonin, dopamine, and serotonin.

These are important hormones that can create better sleep and a feeling of happiness and wellbeing. It may also reduce the production of cortisol, which can inhibit sleep.³

I’ve found weighted blankets to be super soothing. On nights when my insomnia was at its worst, snuggling under a weighted blanket will put me right to sleep.

Before you go shopping, there are some things to consider:

Related articles on SafeWise


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sleep and Sleep Disorders.” Accessed March 16, 2022.
  2. Mayo Clinic, “Sleep Aids: Understand Over-the-Counter Options.” Accessed March 16, 2022.
  3. Sleep Foundation, “How Do Weighted Blankets Work?” Accessed March 16, 2022.


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Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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