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Suffering From Sleeplessness?
Hydroxyzine Helps You Get Sleep When You Need It Most

Hydroxyzine is a prescription antihistamine that’s been shown to help those experiencing insomnia fall asleep faster. We’ll go over important information about this sleep aid to help you determine whether or not it’s right for you.

It’s 2 A.M. and you’re lying in bed wide awake. You haven’t been able to get a truly restful night of sleep all week and you can feel your daytime hours suffering because of it.

Tomorrow is a busy day and you’re really becoming concerned with how you’re going to make it through without nodding off at your desk. You’re desperate for some sleep.

So what do you do?

For many people, situations like this mean turning to an antihistamine to get some shuteye. In fact, 1 in 5 adults regularly rely on over-the-counter sleep medication. And antihistamines are among the most commonly used.

Aleve PM, Unisom Sleep Tablets, and Nyquil all have antihistamine ingredients. And Benadryl, another antihistamine, is one of the most often used sleep aids- even by those who don’t suffer from any allergies at all.

But working your way through the drug store sleep isle isn’t always reliable or effective. In fact, despite your best efforts and countless purchases, you might still be awake.

When you’ve tried everything you can think of- from white noise to melatonin, it may be time to work with a doctor and see if a prescription sleep aid might be helpful to you.

Hydroxyzine, a prescription antihistamine, is one prescription your doctor may consider. Here, we’ll go over what you need to know about Hydroxyzine and how it can help when insomnia won’t let you sleep.

01

What’s Hydroxyzine?

Like we mentioned above, Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine- a type of medication that reduces the levels of histamine in the body.

Come again?

Histamine is a natural chemical produced in your body. When you experience an injury or allergic reaction, your cells release the chemical as a response.

Antihistamine medications help alleviate the symptoms that come along when histamine is released, like itching or skin rashes.

So primarily, these medications are used to treat allergic reactions and symptoms of allergies.

Hydroxyzine has also been shown to lessen activity in your body’s central nervous system. And because of that, doctors have found that it can be helpful in treating anxiety and insomnia.

Lastly, because of its calming effects, Hydroxyzine is often paired with other medications and used for anesthesia.

Hydroxyzine is not a controlled substance.

02

How Does Hydroxyzine Work?

Antihistamines stop your body from producing the chemical histamine.

But how does this help with sleep?

It doesn’t per se. Hydroxyzine’s usefulness in treating insomnia actually comes from its drowsy side effects.

As with most other antihistamines available, including those over-the-counter, Hydroxyzine has a calming effect and can cause sleepiness.

More research is needed to understand exactly why this happens. But from what we understand, this type of medication suppresses activity in certain parts of your brain, providing a calming effect.

There’s also a direct link between histamine and your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

When histamine is released, it sends signals to your brain to wake up. And if you’re experiencing an increase in histamine at bedtime, you may have trouble falling asleep. So when antihistamines block the chemical release, your brain isn’t alerted with a wake-up signal.

Hydroxyzine has been found to be most helpful as a short-term solution for those who are experiencing acute insomnia, which is usually caused by a stressful life event. In fact, it’s not as effective of a solution when taken long-term.

Those who take Hydroxyzine for too long may build up a tolerance to the calming effect, and won’t be able to fall asleep. There is also some evidence that shows those who take Hydroxyzine for too long are at risk of not getting enough deep sleep, an essential stage in the sleep cycle.

03

How Long Does Hydroxyzine Stay In Your System?

Compared to other medications, Hydroxyzine has a long half-life at 20 hours.

This means that after 20 hours, most people will have metabolized the medication to be half of its original concentration from when they took it.

The biggest concern with a long half-life like this is some of the medication’s effects may stick around. For example, some people may find that they wake up still feeling groggy after taking Hydroxyzine.

In this case, your doctor may adjust your prescription dosage to help lessen or avoid this effect altogether. For some, this drowsiness may even disappear after a few days, even without a change in dose.

With this in mind, you should only take Hydroxyzine when you are able to get a full night of sleep. This means having 7-8 hours available for rest.

Hydroxyzine should only be taken before bedtime and you should never take it if you aren’t able to go to bed right away and stay asleep for at least 7 hours.

Finally, you should never operate a vehicle or other heavy machinery after taking Hydroxyzine.

04

What Dosage Of Hydroxyzine Do You Need?

The correct dosage of Hydroxyzine for sleep varies from person to person. And you’ll need to sit down with your doctor to figure out what’s appropriate for you.

For most, it’s prescribed between 10-50 mg and is taken once a day at bedtime. It’s likely your doctor will choose to start you off at a lower dose and may increase the dosage if it’s needed.

Regardless of the dosage written for you, it’s important to take Hydroxyzine exactly as your doctor has instructed. Do not take more or less than your prescription without first giving your doctor a call.

In addition to your prescription, your doctor will most likely provide you with sleep coaching. The idea here is to get to the root cause of what’s keeping you up at night and better prepare you for tackling poor sleep in the future.

Common sleep hygiene practices that are recommended include:

  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, particularly close to bedtime
  • Incorporating regular exercise and activity into your day
  • Creating sleep schedules that include consistent sleep and wake times
  • Limiting the amount of time you spend in bed
  • Avoiding mid-day naps
  • Getting regular exposure to natural light

05

What Are Hydroxyzine’s Side Effects?

Though Hydroxyzine is known to be an effective short-term aid for insomnia, some people may experience side effects.

As mentioned above, drowsiness is the most commonly reported side effect of this medication. And while that’s actually a benefit when you’re trying to fall asleep, it may affect some during waking hours.

Drowsiness may go away after a few days or with an adjustment to your prescription dosage.

Other reported side effects include:

  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Headache with chest pain
  • Severe dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Seizure
  • Skin redness or rash
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth

Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of side effects. If you experience these or any other unusual side effects, it’s important to reach out to your doctor right away.

It’s also important to point out that drinking alcohol after taking Hydroxyzine can increase side effects.

06

Who Shouldn’t Use Hydroxyzine?

Hydroxyzine is often prescribed to those who are experiencing insomnia- but it’s not the right sleep solution for everyone.

Let your doctor know if you have a history of any of the following:

  • Personal or family history of long QT syndrome
  • Blockage in your digestive tract
  • Bladder obstruction or other urination problems
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart disease
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding

This information is important for your doctor to know so that they can make a fully informed recommendation.

Additionally, it’s important to let your doctor know if you’re currently using any of the following:

  • Sleeping pills
  • Narcotic pain medication
  • Muscle relaxer
  • Medications for seizures
  • Antidepressants
  • Heart rhythm medication
  • Antipsychotic medicines
  • Medications to treat cancer, HIV, AIDS, or malaria

Always tell your doctor about any prescriptions, non-prescription medications, supplements, vitamins, or herbal products you’re currently using regardless of whether or not they’re on the above list.

This information will help make sure your doctor is creating a treatment plan that is most suited for you.

07

Conclusion

Hydroxyzine is a prescription antihistamine that has been shown to help with insomnia, similarly to its over-the-counter counterparts. It’s most effective as a short-term solution for those experiencing acute insomnia that’s caused by a stressful life event, family matter, or personal life change.

Hydroxyzine is a prescription medication and you’ll need to meet with your doctor to discuss your insomnia and exploring the right solution for you.