When insomnia creeps in, keeping you awake before a big day of meetings, presentations, or exams, the allure of sleep aids becomes irresistible. The options are abundant, but choosing what works for you can in itself give you a restless night. Valium and hydroxyzine are among the numerous sleeping medications that can help. While hydroxyzine alleviates the symptoms of allergies, Valium is supposed to treat anxiety and seizures. Still, these medications proved effective in treating sleeplessness as well, so doctors often prescribe them for mild sleep disturbances.
Hydroxyzine and valium are FDA-approved but not for insomnia, so their use in treating sleep issues is off-label. Learn about hydroxyzine and valium’s distinct mechanisms of action as well as their alternatives in this hydroxyzine vs. Valium comparison, which can help you understand what might work for you.
How Does Hydroxyzine Work?
Hydroxyzine is a sedative antihistamine that works in two ways:
- The drug inhibits histamine activity in your body, which calms down the central nervous system (CNS) and causes drowsiness
- It increases the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood
This dual action on serotonin levels and histamine activity makes hydroxyzine effective for treating anxiety and insomnia. Hydroxyzine’s sedative effects kick in within 15–30 minutes of taking a dose and may last for 4–6 hours.
Who Can Take Hydroxyzine for Sleep, and Who Should Avoid It?
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Hydroxyzine for sleep is intended for individuals over 18 grappling with sleeplessness due to anxiety or tension.
The drug is safe for adults over 65, but they should take lower doses to reduce interactions with other medicines they typically take due to age-related conditions. Studies show that hydroxyzine can contribute to the risk of birth defects when taken in the first trimester, so pregnant women and women planning for pregnancy should avoid this medication.
Individuals who have the following health conditions or take any of the following medications should consult their healthcare providers before taking hydroxyzine:
Inform your doctor about any conditions you have or medications and supplements you take before starting hydroxyzine, even if they’re not on this list. This will help your healthcare provider determine whether the drug is safe for you and able to provide the desired results.
You shouldn’t take hydroxyzine with alcohol—it can enhance the side effects of the drug, increasing the risk of drowsiness and accidental falls. In some cases, alcohol can also reduce hydroxyzine’s potency.
How To Take Hydroxyzine for Sleep
Hydroxyzine comes in the form of liquid injections and oral tablets, but oral administration is the most common way to take it for sleep. The available doses are:
- 10 mg
- 25 mg
- 50 mg
- 100 mg
The average starting dose for adults is 50 mg daily, but people over 65 typically take lower doses to reduce the risks of side effects.
You should take hydroxyzine at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Heavy meals slow down the absorption process, so you should avoid taking hydroxyzine right after a meal. There’s an exception, though—take hydroxyzine with food if the drug upsets your stomach.
Set aside at least seven hours of sleep for the drug to work effectively. This should also be enough time for the drowsiness to wear off, allowing you to proceed with your daily routine.
Hydroxyzine for Sleep—What Are the Side Effects?
Clinical studies show that hydroxyzine may cause adverse reactions in some users. The most commonly reported side effects of hydroxyzine are dry mouth, constipation, confusion, and dizziness. The rare adverse reactions may include:
- Dry eyes or blurry vision
- Urinary retention
- Skin rash
Users who experience side effects should contact their healthcare provider so they can adjust the dosage or advise them on how to alleviate the symptoms. To prevent the risks of undesired reactions, follow your doctor's instructions regarding your dosage and treatment duration.
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How Does Valium Work?
Valium (diazepam) is a medication belonging to the benzodiazepine class. It enhances the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Here’s how the process plays out in three key steps:
- Valium binds to specific receptors in the brain responsible for regulating the release of GABA, increasing the neurotransmitter's activity
- The enhanced GABA activity reduces the stimulation of nerve cells in the brain, leading to a calming effect, muscle relaxation, and a sense of tranquility
- By calming the CNS, Valium induces a sense of drowsiness, helping you fall asleep
According to clinical trials, Valium kicks in within 60 minutes of taking the dose and may last for 4–12 hours. Healthcare professionals typically prescribe moderate doses for patients using Valium for sleep.
Who Can Take Valium for Sleep, and Who Should Skip It?
Valium for sleep is intended for individuals over 18 who have trouble sleeping due to anxiety, tension, or similar conditions. Adults over 65 should typically take lower doses to reduce the frequency and severity of valium’s side effects.
There’s insufficient information to conclude whether valium is safe for pregnant women, so they should consult their healthcare provider before using this medication.
Individuals with the following health conditions or taking any of the following medications should consult their doctor before using valium:
You shouldn’t mix valium with alcohol since this raises the risk of adverse reactions. Keep in mind that the above lists aren’t exhaustive, so you should inform your doctor if you’re using other medications or have a pre-existing medical condition.
How To Take Valium for Sleep
Valium comes in oral and liquid forms, but oral administration is more common. Typical doses in the treatment of insomnia or anxiety are:
- 2 mg
- 5 mg
- 10 mg
You should take valium about 30 minutes before bedtime. Like with hydroxyzine, avoid heavy meals before taking the medication to promote effective absorption. Valium can cause drowsiness, so allocate at least seven hours for sleep when taking the drug.
Valium for Sleep—What Are the Side Effects?
Valium carries the risk of side effects, which may be more frequent with higher doses or when patients use the drug for an extended period. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination, which may persist the following day. Other potential adverse reactions may include:
- Slurred speech
- Memory problems
- Digestive issues
- Mood changes
While hydroxyzine doesn’t carry the risk of addiction, long-term use of Valium can lead to physical and psychological dependence, so you should follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations regarding the dosage and duration of use.
Hydroxyzine vs. Valium—A Quick Overview
Check out the characteristics of hydroxyzine and Valium in the table below:
These medications are designed for short-term use, so you should inform your healthcare provider if your sleep problems persist after treatment discontinuation.
Hydroxyzine vs. Valium for Sleep—Which One Is More Effective?
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The most effective treatment for sleep issues depends on your current health status, medical history, and the type of sleep problem. While both drugs are effective in treating insomnia (especially hydroxyzine), sleep issues are complex and require a personalized approach and the expertise of sleep specialists.
The best solution for sleeplessness entails a combination of sleep drugs and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).
The main challenge in getting the right treatment is the shortage of sleep experts, so primary healthcare providers often prescribe generic medications like Ambien, Sonata, Belsomra, and Lunesta, which may not work for you.
The good news is that the rise of telemedicine allows specialized online clinics like Kick to offer an all-encompassing solution to your sleep problems.
Kick—Tried and Tested Solutions for Sleep Issues
Designed by a Stanford sleep specialist, Dr. Alex Dimitriu, Kick’s sleep program enables you to communicate with a sleep doctor online and receive your prescription within a day.
Our specialists customize treatment based on your medical history, age, and type of sleep problem. Your doctor will prescribe two trial drugs to reduce the risk of developing physical and psychological dependence and help you find the best option quickly.
A dedicated sleep expert will monitor your progress and provide tips on improving your sleep hygiene as per CBT-I best practices. Working together, you and your doctor will find a long-term solution to sleeplessness in no time. This customized treatment has proven effective, as evidenced by plenty of favorable testimonials on Trustpilot.
How Kick Works
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To join Kick and reclaim your restful nights, follow these three easy steps:
- Sign up and begin your 15-minute sleep visit
- Fill out the intake form to help us understand your medical history and condition
- Provide your shipping address and payment details
Your sleep doctor will evaluate the information and prescribe two trial medications, which can be delivered to your home or local pharmacy. If your doctor decides our program isn’t the right choice for you, they’ll refer you to your primary healthcare provider, and you won’t have to pay for the initial consultation as a part of our Doctor Guarantee.
Alternatives to Hydroxyzine and Valium
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In case your doctor determines that you’re not the best candidate for Valium and hydroxyzine, they may prescribe other medications that fit your age, lifestyle, and health history. Some of these alternatives include:
- Ativan (Lorazepam)
- Xanax (Alprazolam)
- Zoloft (Sertraline)
Even though these medications may help you get some good night’s sleep, you’ll need to combine them with psychotherapy and health-oriented lifestyle changes to achieve sustainable results. For comprehensive and personalized treatment plans, consider Kick’s groundbreaking sleep program.
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