Gluten-Free Sleep Aids: 9 Best Over-the-Counter Options

Choices include medication-based products, melatonin, and herbs

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Gluten-free sleep aids are a necessity for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity who have trouble with insomnia. But not all over-the-counter sleep aids you'll find in the pharmacy or online are gluten-free, so you'll need to choose carefully.

Gluten-free sleep aid products include:

  • CVS Pharmacy Melatonin Gummies
  • Luna Melatonin and Herbal Sleep Aid
  • Solgar Liquid Melatonin
  • Sominex Caplets
  • Sominex Tablets
  • Target Up & Up Melatonin Tablets
  • Unisom SleepTabs
  • Walgreens WalSom tablets
  • ZZZQuil Pure Melatonin Gummies

Despite the huge variety of brands and formulations you'll find in the pharmacy aisle, over-the-counter sleep aids come in just two general types: medication-based sleep aids, which rely on antihistamines that also make you feel sleepy, and melatonin-based sleep aids, which rely on small doses of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Here's the list of the most popular sleep aids, plus what their manufacturers have to say about their gluten-free status.

Medication-Based Sleep Aids

If you've ever taken nighttime cold medicine, you've likely noticed how drowsy it makes you. These medication-based sleep aids contain the same antihistamines used in nighttime cold medicine, although in different dosages.

The products use one of two antihistamines: diphenhydramine HCI or doxylamine succinate. Therefore, if your preferred brand is not considered gluten-free, you should be able to find a gluten-free-labeled substitute with the same active ingredient.

Sominex

Gluten-free

This brand of sleep aid is offered in two formulations:

  • Tablets that contain 25mg of the antihistamine diphenhydramine HCI
  • Caplets that include 50mg of diphenhydramine HCI

Both are considered gluten-free, according to a customer service representative.

Tylenol Simply Sleep

No gluten ingredients

Tylenol, best known for its acetaminophen products, makes one sleep aid: Tylenol Simply Sleep. The over-the-counter product contains 25mg of the antihistamine diphenhydramine HCI (it does not contain any Tylenol).

According to Tylenol manufacturer McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of pharmacy giant Johnson & Johnson, the company does not intentionally add gluten-based ingredients to Tylenol products, including Tylenol Simply Sleep.

However, "no gluten ingredients" doesn't necessarily mean "gluten-free," since gluten can sneak in from ingredients sourced elsewhere, or in manufacturing gluten cross-contamination.

Unisom

One gluten-free product

Unisom offers six different sleep aid products:

  • Unisom SleepGels (diphenhydramine HCI, 50mg)
  • Unisom SleepTabs (doxylamine succinate 25mg)
  • Unisom SleepMinis (diphenhydramine HCI 25mg)
  • Unisom Liquid (diphenhydramine HCI 30mg)
  • Unisom SleepMelts (diphenhydramine HCI 25mg)
  • Unisom PM Pain (diphenhydramine HCI 50mg plus acetaminophen 325mg)

According to the company, only the Unisom SleepTabs are gluten-free. "All other products have not been tested to determine gluten content. Therefore, we cannot certify they are gluten-free," a representative said. Luckily, Unisom SleepTabs are considered one of the best sleep aids for insomnia.

Walgreens WalSom Tablets

Gluten-free

Walgreens offers various house-brand sleep aids. However, the only one considered gluten-free is Walgreens WalSom Tablets. They contain doxylamine succinate 25mg, the same active ingredient as Unisom SleepTabs.

ZZZQuil

No gluten ingredients

Note: ZZZQuil Pure Melatonin Gummies are gluten-free (see the next section on Melatonin-Based Sleep Aids).

Manufacturer Vicks (which makes DayQuil and NyQuil, both of which are gluten-free cold and flu medications) offers four different products that include 25mg of the sleep-inducing antihistamine diphenydramine HCI:

  • ZZZQuil Liquicaps
  • ZZZQuil Calming Vanilla Cherry Liquid
  • ZZZQuil Warming Berry Liquid
  • ZZZQuil Soothing Mango Berry Alcohol-Free Liquid

Unfortunately, although Vicks' DayQuil and NyQuil are gluten-free, a customer service representative says that ZzzQuil is not necessarily considered safe: "We don't add any ingredients that, to our knowledge, contain gluten. However, we can't guarantee ZzzQuil is 100% gluten-free."

Melatonin-Based Sleep Aids

There are many more melatonin-based gluten-free sleep aids on the market than there are medication-based sleep aids. The melatonin-based sleep aid products may include just melatonin, or they may include other ingredients meant to relax you and help you to doze off. Again, you should be able to find a formulation you like that's gluten-free.

Note that when it comes to melatonin, more is not always better: some people find that they need to experiment with their dosage to find just the right amount to help them fall asleep, and that dosage may be less than the recommended dosage for the product.

Here's a sampling of natural gluten-free sleep aid options that are available in stores and online:

CVS Pharmacy Melatonin Gummies

The CVS Pharmacy chain carries multiple house-brand products that are labeled "gluten-free." Its strawberry-flavored melatonin gummies are considered gluten-free. Each gummy has 5mg of melatonin (recommended dose is two gummies). Look for the words "Free of wheat and gluten" on the package label.

Luna

This combination melatonin and herbal sleep aid comes in adult and children's formulations, plus a melatonin-free version. The adult version (two capsules) includes: melatonin (6mg), magnesium, L-theanine, valerian root, chamomile extract, passion flower extract, lemon balm extract, hops extract, and GABA.

The children's version (one chewable tablet) includes: melatonin (0.2mg), vitamin D3, lemon balm, valerian root, stevia, and chamomile flower. The melatonin-free version contains the same ingredients as the adult version, but omits the melatonin. You can find Luna online at Amazon and on the company's website.

Solgar Liquid Melatonin

Solgar, which states that most of its products are gluten-free, makes liquid melatonin in black cherry flavor. The product contains only melatonin (plus flavoring). The recommended dosage is 5mg or 10mg, but the dropper in the bottle allows you to accurately dispense any dose by the drop, and to calibrate your own dose to your needs. You can find Solgar liquid melatonin in large natural food stores and online at Amazon and other outlets.

Target Up & Up Melatonin

Target's house brand, Up & Up, can be a good source for over-the-counter pharmaceutical products that are prominently labeled "gluten-free" on the packaging. Although Up & Up does not offer any medication-based gluten-free sleep aids, Target does carry gluten-free melatonin tablets in 10mg strength. Look for the words "gluten-free" on the package. Don't buy the product unless the box includes that notation.

ZZZQuil Pure Melatonin Gummies

These gummies come in only one flavor and are similar in size and taste to vitamin gummies. A serving size of two gummies contains 2mg of melatonin, plus chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, and valerian root, all considered to be calming botanical ingredients.

A Word From Verywell

It's not uncommon for people with celiac or gluten sensitivity to have trouble with sleep, even though researchers haven't yet pinpointed the reason behind this problem. If you find you're having more than occasional issues with getting enough rest, talk to your doctor. It's possible that you need better sleep habits, or possibly even testing for a sleep disorder.

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