October 7, 2013
Using Benedryl For Sleep Could Be Your Worst Nightmare
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
If you have been waking up tired lately then one sleep expert says maybe you should stop using antihistamines like Benadryl.
People take antihistamines to help with their allergies, but the medicine is also known for causing drowsiness. While medicines like Benadryl can help people fall asleep, a Baylor College of Medicine sleep expert says it shouldn't be used as a sleep aid.
“Many allergy sufferers know that antihistamines work for their symptoms but also make them sleepy. People sometimes turn to these medications to help them sleep, even when they’re not sick. But the use of medication to force children or adults to sleep is generally not the best idea,” Dr. Philip Alapat, assistant professor of medicine, said in a statement.
He added that antihistamines could lead to sleep walking and other parasomnias, similar to what occurs with other hypnotic sleep-aids like Ambien. The sleep quality people experience when taking Benadryl is not good, and sometimes it can have the opposite affect and cause hyperactivity.
“Using Benadryl or any antihistamine for sleep has no long term benefit,” Alapat said. “Most people develop a tolerance very quickly.”
He also said that many over-the-counter sleep aids are antihistaminic drugs repackaged and labeled as a medicine to help you go to sleep. Alapat said people who suffer from insomnia should visit a physician or sleep disorder specialist instead. Problems with sleeping could stem from medical issues such as obstructive sleep apnea, depression or circadian rhythm disorders.
“For many people, insomnia is short-term due to a stressful event or family problems. In this context, for a brief period it’s not unreasonable to consider pharmacological agents to help you get to sleep but even in this situation people should consult a physician to determine what medication might work best,” Alapat said.
Figuring out why you are unable to sleep could really help in the long run because the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said that too much or too little sleep can lead to chronic diseases. The CDC found that getting six hours or less of sleep, or 10 hours or more, puts you at risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and obesity.