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Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids Addiction? | Ask the Expert
<a href="https://www.mylifestages.org/health/sleep/sleep_loss.page">Sleep loss</a> is a problem for millions of Americans. But sleeplessness doesn’t have to be a way of life. Regarding over-the-counter products, the active ingredient of over-the-counter sleep aids like Tylenol PM, Benadryl and Unisom is diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. It is generally safe and non-addicting. There are certain people who should be cautious with using it, such as the elderly, those with asthma and those with enlarged prostate, as these people may have significant side effects. Ask your doctor if diphenhydramine is safe for you. Tylenol PM, specifically, has acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) combined with diphenhydramine. Acetaminophen, when taken in large doses, can potentially affect the liver so should be used judiciously. (See our <a href="https://www.mylifestages.org/health/wellness/painkiller_comparison_guide.page?">painkiller comparison guide</a> for more on Tylenol.) Benadryl, Unisom and Sominex, for example, do not contain acetaminophen, only diphenhydramine. As with any sleep aid, diphenhydramine should not be mixed with other sedatives or alcohol.
Alcohol & Substance Abuse,Other,

Question:

Can you become addicted to over the counter sleep aids like Tylenol PM?

Answer:

Caroline Schreiber, M.D.Caroline Schreiber, M.D.Family MedicineAlta Bates Summit Medical Center
Expert
Caroline Schreiber, M.D.Family MedicineAlta Bates Summit Medical Center

Dr. Schreiber chose Family Medicine because she loved the idea of caring for patients at all stages of life. "To care for such a variety of people with such a variety of medical challenges is wonderfully rewarding. In particular, I enjoy women’s health, and feel that Family Medicine offers me the opportunity to manage non-surgical gynecology in the context of the whole body and its medical and psychosocial complexities", says Dr. Schrieber.

Sleep loss is a problem for millions of Americans. But sleeplessness doesn’t have to be a way of life.

Regarding over-the-counter products, the active ingredient of over-the-counter sleep aids like Tylenol PM, Benadryl and Unisom is diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. It is generally safe and non-addicting. There are certain people who should be cautious with using it, such as the elderly, those with asthma and those with enlarged prostate, as these people may have significant side effects. Ask your doctor if diphenhydramine is safe for you.

Tylenol PM, specifically, has acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) combined with diphenhydramine. Acetaminophen, when taken in large doses, can potentially affect the liver so should be used judiciously. (See our painkiller comparison guide for more on Tylenol.) Benadryl, Unisom and Sominex, for example, do not contain acetaminophen, only diphenhydramine. As with any sleep aid, diphenhydramine should not be mixed with other sedatives or alcohol.

Keep in mind that requiring a sleep aid to fall asleep is not the same as being chemically dependent on, or addicted to, a medication. If you do require a sleep aid on a long term basis, you should talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your insomnia.

Read more:
Insomnia in Women
10 Tips for Healthy Sleep
How Much Sleep Do you Need?

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