The Pros And Cons Of Taking Diphenhydramine As A Sleep Aid

Posted on: 8 November 2017

If you're having trouble drifting off to sleep at night, there are numerous prescription and over-the-counter medications you may take to help. One of these is diphenhydramine, a medication sold in pill and liquid forms by several big brands. Like all medications, diphenhydramine has its pros and cons, which you should consider before opting to use it as a sleep aid. Here's a look:

Pro: Diphenhydramine is cheap and readily available.

If you're on a tight budget or don't have a good prescription plan, diphenhydramine can be a very affordable sleep aid option for you. It's available at most pharmacies and drug stores, and some dollar stores even carry it. If you ever find yourself sleepless and without a sleep aid late at night, you can run to the nearest store and be pretty confident you'll find diphenhydramine at a price that won't require you to empty your wallet.

Pro: Diphenhydramine is quite safe.

Some medications can cause a lot of side effects, but diphenhydramine is not one of them. Some patients may notice some constipation or mild upset stomach after taking the drug, but this clears up quickly. Most patients can take diphenhydramine safely, though you should check with your doctor if you have heart disease, eye problems, or emphysema.

Con: Diphenhydramine can leave you with a "hangover" feeling the next day.

If you read the label on your bottle, it will likely tell you not to take the product unless you have at least 8 hours to sleep. If you sleep less than this after taking diphenhydramine, you're likely to feel a bit groggy and lethargic when you wake up. Some patients notice this symptom even if they do get the full eight hours of sleep after taking the pills. You may not want to take diphenhydramine for the first time the night before a big meeting or important event since you won't know how your body will react.

Con: Diphenhydramine is less effective when taken regularly.

Diphenhydramine is best used occasionally. If you need something to get to sleep every night, you may be best off talking to your doctor about other options. If you just take diphenhydramine night after night, your body will adapt to the drug, and you won't feel as sleepy. Some patients just take a larger and larger dose, but this may not be safe, and weaning yourself off a higher dose of diphenhydramine can be difficult.

Contact a doctor about sleep medicine for more information and assistance.