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4 Ways to Save on Sleep Aids

The pursuit of a good night’s sleep can be costly. Here is how to save 

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AARP (Source: Getty Images (4))

One-third of U.S. adults report getting less than the recommended amount of sleep each night, so it may be no surprise that more than $67 billion is spent each year on sleep aids, including prescriptions, mattresses, pillows and over-the-counter medications. 

Sleep deficiency is more than an annoyance. It’s been linked to many chronic health problems, including anxiety, depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and dementia. 

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That doesn’t mean older adults should stock up on sleep aids without consulting their doctor, especially if they have an underlying medical condition, says Jennifer Bourgeois, a pharmacy and health expert at SingleCare, which is an app-based prescription-saving service.

Many sleep medications — even over-the-counter options — come with potentially risky side effects for older adults. For example, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and doxylamine (Unisom) can cause you to feel drowsy or dizzy and may put you at higher risk for falling.   

Even supplements warrant some level of scrutiny. Melatonin, a common sleep supplement that health experts say is generally safe, can cause dizziness and may interact with other medications. “Another popular option is magnesium,” Bourgeois says. Some studies suggest it can help improve the quality and length of sleep but, like any pill or potion, isn’t without potential side effects.    

Let’s not forget about chamomile tea, ergonomic pillows, white noise machines and medicine prescribed by doctors. They can all help in getting better sleep — but they can break the bank.

The good news is there are ways to lower the costs of sleep aids. Here’s how.

Stick to store brands and generics

Whether it’s a prescription or over-the-counter remedy, opting for a generic or store-brand version of the medicine can save you money. “When you talk about prescriptive products, generic options are more affordable than the brand names, and that same concept is in stores,” Bourgeois says. “The stores usually have a store brand that the consumer can use that is typically more cost-effective.” Take melatonin as one example. Nature’s Bounty Melatonin 3 mg 240 count costs $19.49 at CVS. The CVS brand for the same count but a 5 mg dose goes for $13.49. Generic prescription drugs can cost 80 to 85 percent less than brand-name medicines, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Use a prescription discount card

​Prescription discount cards offer consumers savings on brand-name and generic drugs. Membership program providers work with pharmacies to negotiate lower prices that are passed on to members when they present their membership card to a participating pharmacy. It’s easy to find the nearest pharmacy with the best price for your medication by searching online or with your mobile phone. Discount card programs are “one way seniors can save on their prescription sleep medication, regardless of what kind of insurance they have,” says Charlene Rhinehart, personal finance editor at GoodRx, a drug coupon and discount card website operator. GoodRx, , SingleCare and AARP Prescription Discounts provided by OptumRx have discount card programs that are free to consumers and help them save.

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Sign up for loyalty programs

From CVS to Walgreens, drugstores want you to keep coming back and will reward you for your loyalty with deals and discounts, which you can apply to over-the-counter sleep aids. You can sign up for these programs online and in stores. Scan your store app at checkout or input your phone number, and you’ll receive points on your purchases that will lower the cost the next time you shop. If you don’t want to become a member of a loyalty program, you can save by checking your receipt, which typically has coupons at the end. “Being part of your pharmacy’s savings or loyalty programs can help surface coupons you can use to save on these sleep aids,” Rhinehart says.

Purchase sleep aids through FSA or HSA

If you contribute to a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), you can withdraw money tax-free to pay for approved medical expenses such as doctor visits and prescriptions. With an HSA, your contributions are tax-deductible if you set up your account, and they are pretax — lowering your taxable income — if made through an employer plan. Keep in mind you can’t contribute to an HSA if you are enrolled in Medicare, but you can use the money accumulated in the account. “Many nondrug treatments like breathing strips, eye masks and therapeutic pillows and blankets are FSA- and HSA-eligible,” Rhinehart says.

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