You’re lying awake, with the tick-tock of the clock echoing in the silence, a stark reminder of the sleep that eludes you. It’s a scenario all too familiar to many—a recent survey shows that about 39% of adults in the U.S. had experienced sleep problems in the past 12 months.
When insomnia strikes, the search for an effective solution becomes paramount. With many available options, opting for the right one is a challenging trial-and-error cycle. When it comes to medications, hydroxyzine and Benadryl proved to be viable choices for overcoming sleeplessness. Check out how they work in this comprehensive hydroxyzine vs. Benadryl comparison to make the right choice.
Hydroxyzine and Benadryl—An Overview
Hydroxyzine and Benadryl are both antihistamines—a class of drugs that block the actions of histamine in the body to reduce the symptoms of allergies. Despite being in the same class, they have different uses and effects.
Hydroxyzine, sold under brand names Atarax and Vistaril, is primarily prescribed as an antihistamine to treat itching, allergies, and skin rash. It’s also used to treat sleeplessness and anxiety.
Meanwhile, Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is commonly used to relieve symptoms of allergies, such as sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy or watery eyes. It also prevents and treats nausea, vomiting, and dizziness caused by motion sickness. It can be prescribed as a sleep aid but typically only for short-term sleeping problems and mild disturbances.
While hydroxyzine is a prescription-only medication, Benadryl is available over the counter. Both drugs are FDA-approved but not for insomnia, so their use in treating sleep issues is off-label.
Benadryl and Hydroxyzine—Key Facts
You can check out a side-by-side comparison of hydroxyzine and Benadryl in the following table:
Hydroxyzine vs. Benadryl for Sleep—Dosage and Administration
Hydroxyzine is available in four doses:
- 10 mg
- 25 mg
- 50 mg
- 100 mg
The typical hydroxyzine dosage for adults with insomnia is 50 mg daily, taken at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Your healthcare provider will recommend the appropriate dosage based on your condition.
Meanwhile, Benadryl has two doses—25 mg and 50 mg. The average dose of Benadryl for sleep issues is 50 mg daily, taken orally. If you have mild sleep disturbances, your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of 25 mg.
You should take Benadryl 30 minutes before bedtime to allow the drug sufficient time to kick in.
Duration of Effect
Source: Ketut Subiyanto
Whether you take hydroxyzine or Benadryl, allocate at least seven hours for sleep to allow the drug to take full effect and let the sedative effects wear off naturally. If you feel groggy after waking up, avoid performing tasks that require sharp focus, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.
While hydroxyzine and Benadryl can be effective in helping you fall asleep, they’re not designed for long-term use. With continued usage, your body can build a tolerance to these medications, reducing their effectiveness.
Hydroxyzine vs. Benadryl—Which One Should You Choose?
Choosing the most effective treatment for sleep issues depends on various factors, including your health status, medical history, and insomnia type. Hydroxyzine has more prominent sedating properties, so it’s often preferred for addressing sleep problems. Still, the ideal treatment is a nuanced decision best made by a healthcare professional.
The best treatment for insomnia combines efficient drugs with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and can only be designed by a sleep specialist. Unfortunately, only 1% of doctors in the U.S. are trained in sleep medicine, so seeing one can be complicated and time-consuming.
The good news is that Kick offers a groundbreaking sleep program that combines science-based methods with personalized treatment plans that fit your lifestyle and health status. As a cutting-edge telemedicine platform, it lets you visit a sleep expert almost immediately.
Enjoy Restful Nights With Kick’s Groundbreaking Sleep Program
Source: EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA
Kick is a game-changer in your quest for better sleep, with a unique approach tailored to your case. We provide off-label sleep medications like trazodone, hydroxyzine, and gabapentin, selected thoughtfully by our medical experts to match your needs and current health status.
Our team also uses the best practices of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) to help you adopt healthy sleeping habits and reach a long-term solution for restless nights.
How Kick Works
Designed by a Stanford sleep specialist, Dr. Alex Dimitriu, Kick’s sleep program is easy to join:
- Visit our signup page to start your 15-minute sleep visit
- Fill out the medical intake form to help us understand your sleep issues
- Choose between pharmacy pickup and home delivery for your medication
- Provide shipping and payment details
Our sleep specialists will review your information and handpick two trial medications that suit you best, reducing the risk of dependence while ensuring effective treatment. Your doctor will check in with you every month, offer tips on CBT-I best practices, and adjust your dosage if necessary to help you get a good night’s sleep quickly.
If our sleep specialists decide our program isn’t the best solution for you, they’ll refer you to your primary healthcare provider, and you won’t have to pay for your initial consultation thanks to our Doctor Guarantee.
An accolade of positive reviews on Trustpilot is a testament to our commitment to our patients and the exceptional results we achieved working together. Join Kick today to begin the journey of reclaiming restful nights.
Hydroxyzine vs. Benadryl—Potential Side Effects
Hydroxyzine and Benadryl can have similar side effects that are typically mild, including:
Rare adverse reactions to these drugs are:
- Confusion in the elderly
- Dry mouth or nose
- Low blood pressure
- Blurry vision
Severe hydroxyzine side effects may include seizures, chest pain, increased heart rate, painful or insufficient urination, and unintentional muscle movements.
Severe adverse reactions to Bendaryl include confusion, difficulty breathing, a swollen face, and uncontrollable movements.
This list isn’t exhaustive—always consult your healthcare professional for comprehensive medication information. If you experience adverse reactions, inform your doctor so they can advise you on the best ways to mitigate the side effects or prescribe an alternative treatment.
Hydroxyzine vs. Benadryl for Sleep—Who Should and Shouldn’t Use These Drugs?
Source: Eren Li
Hydroxyzine and Benadryl can help adults grappling with occasional sleeplessness, which includes sleep onset and sleep maintenance problems. Elderly individuals can also use these medications at lower doses, but they should inform their healthcare providers if they have pre-existing medical conditions that may make the side effects more frequent.
Pregnant women can use Benadryl after consulting their healthcare providers, but they should avoid hydroxyzine because it carries potential risk of birth defects. Breastfeeding women should avoid both drugs since they can pass through breast milk and increase the risk of adverse reactions in children.
Who Shouldn’t Use Hydroxyzine?
People with the following conditions shouldn’t use hydroxyzine:
- Heart disease
- Epilepsy or a history of seizures
- Long QT syndrome
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Allergies to cetirizine and levocetirizine
- Bowel, stomach, or bladder obstructions
- Women planning to get pregnant
This list may not cover all conditions—ensure you provide your complete medical history to your doctor. They’ll evaluate the risks of using the medication and recommend the safest and most effective option for you.
Long-term use of antihistamines has been linked to certain health risks. For instance, a study found that long-term use of anticholinergics, which include Benadryl and hydroxyzine, was associated with an increased risk of dementia.
Inform your healthcare provider if you’ve had sleep problems for a long time. If you need long-term treatment, they may recommend Quviviq and other drugs appropriate for individuals with chronic sleeplessness.
Who Shouldn’t Use Benadryl?
Individuals with the following conditions shouldn’t use Benadryl:
- Heart disease
- Low blood pressure
- Bowel, stomach, or bladder obstructions
- Liver or kidney diseases
- Allergy to diphenhydramine
- Asthma or breathing disorders
This list isn’t comprehensive. Your doctor may recommend alternatives to this medication if your risk of severe adverse reactions is high.
Hydroxyzine vs. Benadryl—Interactions With Other Substances
Source: Ron Lach
Hydroxyzine and Benadryl can interact with other drugs, increasing the risk of side effects or reducing the potency of the drugs. You can find a detailed breakdown of the interactions between hydroxyzine and Benadryl and other substances in the table below:
Inform your healthcare provider about any medications or supplements you’re taking. They’ll assess the risk of interactions and recommend ways to minimize the potential side effects of taking hydroxyzine or Benadryl alongside other drugs.
Hydroxyzine and Benadryl for Sleep—What Are the Alternatives?
For those at higher risk of adverse reactions to hydroxyzine and Benadryl or in need of more potent sleep treatments, healthcare providers may suggest the following alternatives:
Still, these options may not offer a definitive solution for long-term sleep issues. For a more comprehensive approach, consider Kick’s sleep program.
Featured image source: Andrea Piacquadio