It is understandable that when you are struggling to sleep, anything, including taking a Benadryl, might help. But you should bear in mind any side effects, which can range from drowsiness to nausea. The antihistamine has a good reputation for making people feel sleepy, so it might make more sense than you think to use it as a sleep aid. It’s easy to get, and you already have some at home, so there’s no need to go out of your way. Sleep experts weigh in on the pros & cons of taking Benadryl to sleep.
What Is Benadryl?
Benadryl is a brand name for diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. Histamine is a chemical used in your body to fight against certain drugs. Antihistamines block histamine, which causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction to go away. This is the substance that causes allergy symptoms such as stuffy nose, watery eyes & sneezing. It can be found in both natural and artificial substances and has been around for a long time. Histamine is responsible for triggering the symptoms of allergies that usually hit in early spring. However, there is more to them, as research has suggested they might also play a role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle, where these histamines are more active when you sleep.
Our OTC drug is designed to relieve symptoms brought on by allergies and the common cold as well. Diphenhydramine also prevents nausea and vomiting, according to the NLM. And on that note.
How is Benadryl helpful in sleeping?
The effects of Benadryl are likely to make you sleepy. This is because histamine wakes you up, and Benadryl blocks the histamine in your brain.
By removing the histamines from your sleeping environment, “can provide some people with a better sleep,” explains author Christopher Winter. In some people, Diphenhydramine can make them feel sleepy or tired. For example, if you use Benadryl to help with your allergy symptoms, it might give you that feeling. When you’ve prescribed medication, it is usually with the understanding that there are side effects. One example is drowsiness, in which the product label clearly states a warning against using while driving or handling heavy machinery.
While Benadryl may be able to help you fall asleep, it’s not as powerful in maintaining your sleep. This means that you’ll need to use this every so often to have the desired effect. Reports are generally unclear about the long-term effectiveness of this product, and there is some debate as to whether it has any effect after four or more days of chronic use. It may not be entirely clear why the average person develops a tolerance to antihistamines, but research suggests that everyone does so within six months of taking the medication.
What are the pros?
One advantage of Benadryl is its ability to make you sleepier. Dr. Ian Katznelson says: “The fact that it induces sleepiness is a pro.”
You can find Benadryl at pretty much every drug store, says Dr. Winter as well. It’s also “less dangerous” than Benzodiazepines, a class of drugs which may cause dependency and include Valium and Xanax.”
The most common side effect of Benadryl on its own is drowsiness. This can occur even in low doses, so it’s best to avoid driving and operating heavy machinery if you are drowsy.
What are the cons?
Things like dry mouth and constipation can affect your quality of life significantly. It’s also worth noting that these come with cognitive issues, so make sure to take care while taking them. If you can’t afford to feel groggy every morning from a stormy night’s sleep, do not take Diphenhydramine. This drug causes nausea, vomiting, a drop in appetite, headaches, and muscle weakness.
Certain sleeping disorders, such as mild insomnia often result in dependency on Benadryl. Meaning it might become impossible to fall asleep without first taking it. I’d instead people learn sleep techniques, which include things like cutting back on coffee time, keeping your room dark, and exercising regularly. There’s a small risk of developing physical dependence.
The FDA states that it is reasonable if you’re only taking Diphenhydramine for occasional trouble falling asleep. However, continuously using the drug, like every night to sleep, changes the body’s chemical makeup and can cause harmful side effects.
You shouldn’t seek out sleep drugs like Benadryl and use them as a crutch every night. Talk to your doctor to get help if you need something to help you sleep EVERY night. Dr. Winter advises that you probably want to see a doctor when you’re having issues with sleep. “At the point when you are heading out to buy Benadryl,” she says, “That’s a red flag for non-restorative sleep.”