What should you take to help you sleep? Do any remedies really work?

What should you take to help you sleep? Do any remedies really work?

What should you take to help you sleep? Data shows sleeping pill prescriptions are at an all-time high – while pharmacists’ shelves heave with natural remedies… But do any of them really work?

  • NHS data show record 1m Britons take sleeping pills and 1 in 3 Americans do too
  • Studies show that probiotics with ‘friendly bacteria’ help people get to sleep
  • Click here to read Mail+ full report on what you SHOULD take to help you sleep 

Are you struggling to get a decent night’s sleep? Perhaps you just can’t drift off – or wake up in the night, mind whirring, unable to drop off again.

If so, you’re far from alone: the latest NHS data shows a record one million people in the UK are now prescribed insomnia medication each year. In the US, an astonishing one in three adults regularly take something to help them get some shut-eye.

Stress, the lasting reverberations of the chaos that lockdown caused and the rise of other conditions that make sleeplessness more likely – such as chronic pain, type 1 diabetes, asthma and stomach issues – are all to blame for this silent epidemic.

If you’re one of them, then you need to read this exclusive Mail+ report on what you SHOULD take to help you sleep. We’ve combed the scientific literature and spoken to some of the world’s leading medical experts to uncover the surprising truth about which sleep remedies really work.

We also reveal which simply don’t – despite what many people claim.

Are you struggling to get a decent night’s sleep? Perhaps you just can’t drift off – or wake up in the night, mind whirring, unable to drop off again

New NHS data shows a record one million people in the UK are now prescribed insomnia medication each year

Studies show that probiotics – supplements and yoghurt drinks containing ‘friendly bacteria’ – don’t just benefit digestive health, they can have a profound effect on mental wellbeing too.

So if worry is keeping you awake, then a daily dose might just do the trick. Dietician Dr Frankie Phillips says: ‘Research shows that our gut bacteria send signals to our brain, and this affects the regulation of hormones involved with mood.’

Changing the make-up of our internal microbiome, as it’s known, could improve the way we feel, and aid sleep.

Meanwhile, if you reach for antihistamine sleep tablets in a bid to get some rest, experts warn they could be be far less effective than many believe. Studies show they work, but only for a day or two before people build up tolerance.

Abusing over-the-counter cold and flu remedies like Night Nurse (pictured) could be downright dangerous

Click here to read the full report into sleep-changing advice on Mail+ 

And neurologist Professor Guy Leschziner, a sleep disorders expert in London also has some surprising news about melatonin tablets – taken by millions, many of them children.

‘It doesn’t work for everyone, and the effects can wear off – but patients still become dependent. There are also questions about whether taking melatonin night suppress your own normal production.’

There’s also a warning to those who turn to cold and flu remedies – like Night Nurse and NyQuil and Advil PM – to help them sleep: abusing these over-the-counter medicines could be downright dangerous.

To find out the details – and more sleep-changing advice – read our report, only in The Mail+ and in today’s The Mail on Sunday.

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