I distinctly remember talking to a classmate when in college on day… she said she’d just slept 2 hours before we’d have to do an important presentation together. I asked her why she’d do that? She replied that she has severe insomnia and relies on OTC supplements to fall asleep 5 out of every 7 nights. I knew many people took OTC against insomnia, but this was an extraordinary case. That’s why today we’re going to discuss a common question: “which is better for falling asleep: Zzzquil vs Benadryl?”.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. On this page you’ll find what works for me and what has worked for thousands of others. If you have serious problems with insomnia, then go see your doctor. A specialist can better assess your situation than an online article.
Zzzquil vs Benadryl
There are so many OTC supplements and sleeping aids available, that it’s tough to keep the overview. Add to that the fact that many brands contain different ingredients, and most of these ingredients are named with their chemical name – and it can be a recipe for disaster to find out what you need.
Our society is going through an unprecedented time for insomnia, so many companies are trying to profit from this by creating supplements and sleeping aids for this.
Here’s the truth about Zzzquil vs Benadryl:
ZzzQuil and Benadryl both have the same active ingredient: diphenhydramine
Both ZzzQuil and Benadryl have the same active ingredient. So it doesn’t matter which one you take.
The active ingredient is diphenhydramine. It’s an antihistamine that makes you drowsy. And that’s the exact reason why it’s included in so many sleeping aids.
ZzzQuil is a brand name, and recently they have also expanded their product line with other products (such as ZzzQuil melatonin). But in general, if you see the name ZzzQuil, most of the time it will contain benadryl. Be sure to check tough!
Since the effect of both is the same, I recommend you get regular benadryl or diphenhydramine. It will be cheaper per tab – for the same sleep relief.
However, this brings us to some new questions. mainly:
- Is diphenhydramine safe to take?
- What are the recommended guidelines for taking diphenhydramine?
You’ll find the answers in the paragraphs below.
Is diphenhydramine safe to take?
It’s not considered an addictive substance by law. And it’s legal in most countries – although it’s not in Zambia. For that reason most doctors consider it safe to use. Although they do not give green light for using it every night long-term.
Here’s what most doctors recommend for if you want to take diphenhydramine:
- Do not take it for more than 2 weeks – and consult your doctor if symptoms persist after 2 weeks.
Here’s the full recommendation from Drugs.com:
12 years and older:
-Diphenhydramine citrate: 76 mg orally once a day at bedtime
-Diphenhydramine hydrochloride: 50 mg orally once a day at bedtime
-Patients should contact their healthcare provider if symptoms of insomnia persist for more than 2 weeks while receiving treatment.
-As a nighttime sleep aid
-To reduce difficulty falling asleep
-Relief of occasional sleeplessness
I bolded the diphenhydramine hydrochloride part – since that is the active form in ZZZQuil and Benadryl. Be sure to check your diphenhydramine though. It might be different!
Some people have used it for longer periods than 2 weeks. But that’s not recommended. the reason for that is because you might suffer from rebound insomnia.
Rebound insomnia means that your insomnia will come back – even worse. In layman’s terms: taking a strong sleep aid – such as diphenhydramine – will make your brain *lazy* for falling asleep itself. You’ll come to rely even more on benadryl. And then when you inevitably stop taking it at some point, it will be even more difficult to fall asleep without taking anything. This is how dependence on OTC sleeping aids comes from.
So: follow the safe dosage recommendations and don’t take it for longer than 2 weeks!
Using diphenhydramine for sleep: guidelines
Even though it’s considered to be a safe supplement to take for insomnia, here are some guidelines that you can use to make it even more safe. See this as a list of steps to take for solving your insomnia:
- Have you checked if there aren’t any lifestyle factors causing your insomnia? (blue screens before bed, excessive worrying at night, bad diet, etc.)
- If you answered yes to the previous question, or you’re desperate for sleep ‘fast’, then you can check into using benadryl.
- Take 50 mg of benadryl and see if it helps.
- If it works, then take it for 4 nights. And then try the next night to sleep without it. Sometimes all it takes to start sleeping well again is the experience of sleeping well just for one night.
- If it doesn’t work – then stop taking it. No use adding chemicals into your body if they’re not having the desired effect. Go see a doctor.
If you find after this little experiment that you can only sleep with benadryl, then check out some tips here for optimizing your sleep hygiene. It might be the missing factor for good sleep.
Conclusion (end to the Zzzquil vs benadryl debate)
That was it. By now you’ve learned that both ZzzQuil and Benadryl have the same active component: diphenhydramine. It’s an antihistamine that makes you drowsy – and that’s why people take it for insomnia.
So there’s no real difference between ZzzQuil vs Benadryl. The only thing to watch out for is that ZzzQuil also has other supplements. So always check the active ingredients before ordering!
Since ZzzQuil is a brand, it’s more expensive than buying regular benadryl. And since the effect is the same, you might as well get the cheaper Benadryl.
P.S. Don’t like the taste of normal capsules – or are they hard to swallow for you? Then get these berry-flavored diphenhydramine capsules from ZzzQuil. They’ll make it even easier for you to fall asleep well!