Antihistamines can make you feel drowsy, and therefore help you get to sleep for two to three nights — but regular use of this medication as a sleep aid can actually make your insomnia worse.
Antihistamines make you drowsy by preventing histamines from attaching to cells in your body and causing swelling, itching, runny nose and tearing eyes.
Antihistamines can be found as the main ingredient in many over-the-counter sleep aids. But, these products are only meant to be used for a few nights at the most, like when you can’t get to sleep due to travel circumstances or stress.
Diphenhydramine, which is the primary ingredient in non-prescription sleep aids such as Sominex, Sleep-Eez and Nytol, is the most commonly used antihistamine for over-the-counter sleep medications. Diphenhydramine can also be found in pain relief medication like Anacin P.M., Excedrin P.M. and Tylenol P.M..
Other sleep medications may contain an antihistamine called doxylamine (Unison). Antihistamines used primarily for allergy medications such as chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), hydroxyzine (Atarax or Vistaril) or cyproheptadine (Periactin) may also prove to be effective as mild sleep aids.
Resistance to the tranquilizing effects of antihistamines develops quickly — so if you keep taking them, they’ll start to lose their sleepy effect. Side effects may include:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Memory problems
- Impaired vision
- Dryness of mouth, throat and nose
Making changes to your lifestyle and modifying your daily habits and routines will yield much better and healthier results. Start with these helpful tips:
- Set up a regular sleep schedule
- Stay away from caffeine and avoid daytime naps
- Daily exercise
- Stress management
If your insomnia problems continue, talk to your doctor. In addition to the changes listed above, your doctor may suggest a behavior therapy program to teach you new sleep habits and other methods for making an effective sleeping environment.
Caution: Individuals with glaucoma, angina, heart arrhythmias or people who have difficulty urinating should stay away from antihistamines. Also, antihistamines should not be taken with nausea or motion sickness medications. Sufferers of chronic lung disease should avoid sleep aids containing doxylamine.
Other insomnia related articles:
Types of Insomnia
Top Causes of Insomnia
How to go to Sleep – 48 Tips to Help Cure your Insomnia
Diet and Insomnia – Foods That Cause Insomnia
Diet and Insomnia – Foods to Help You Sleep
Allergies and Insomnia
Meditation to Help Cure Insomnia
Aromatherapy for Insomnia – It makes Scents
Acupressure for Insomnia – Getting to the point
The Benefits of Using Acupuncture for Insomnia
Hypnosis for Insomnia
Alcohol and Insomnia
Menopause and Insomnia
Children and Insomnia
Twelve Tips to Prevent the Effects of Jet Lag
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