Does NyQuil Make You Sleepy

Does NyQuil make you sleepy?

If you’re taking any over-the-counter cold medicine like nyquil, you may notice that one of the side effects is feeling sleepy. For some people, this is a good effect, especially if you find it difficult to fall asleep naturally, but for others, it could be bad, especially if you do jobs that require you to stay alert and active.

Does NyQuil Make You Sleepy Like Other OTC Medications?

Whether you consider sleep as a good side effect or as a bad one, knowing if NyQuil can make you sleepy can help you when next you go to the pharmacy for cold and flu drugs. In this article, we’ll review what NyQuil is made of, how they work, and know if they can make you sleepy, so keep reading.

Uses of Nyquil

NyQuil is a combination drug used temporarily to treat colds, flu, allergies, and other breathing illness symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose and nasal congestion.

Coughs that are due to smoking, asthma, or any other long-term breathing illnesses, are not treated using NyQuil and neither are coughs that bring out a lot of mucus. Also, unless your doctor approves, you shouldn’t give this drug to children who are younger than 6 years old.

What Is NyQuil Made of?

There are different NyQuil products:

  • NyQuil Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief (Liquid and LiquiCaps)
  • NyQuil Severe Cough, Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief (Liquids, LiquiCaps, and VapoCool Caplets)
  • NyQuil High Blood Pressure Cold and Flu Medicine
  • NyQuil Cough DM and Congestion Medicine (Liquid)

 NyQuil is mainly made of 3 main active ingredients; Dextromethorphan, Antihistamine, and Acetaminophen, but you’ll also find the decongestant Phenylephrine HCl in some of the NyQuil products such as NyQuil Cough DM and Congestion Medicine.

How Does NyQuil Work?

Considering the different active ingredients in NyQuil,

Here’s how it works:

  • Dextromethorphan works by suppressing cough. It does this by blocking the part of the brain that sends coughing signals to the body, thereby reducing your urge to cough.
  • Antihistamine blocks the action of a chemical, histamine, that is secreted in the body when you come in contact with something you’re allergic to. Doing so relieves your allergic symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose. The antihistamine used in NyQuil is Doxylamine succinate.
  • Acetaminophen is a common analgesic that relieves pain and reduces fever symptoms that are due to the cold or flu, such as headaches, fever pains, and sore throat. It does this by blocking the brain from producing chemicals that are responsible for pain and fever.
  • Phenylephrine HCl is the decongestant in some NyQuil products and it works to relieve nasal congestion by reducing swelling of the blood vessels in your nasal passages. 
Does NyQuil Make You Sleepy
Does NyQuil Make You Sleepy

Does NyQuil Make You Sleepy

Yes. Among other side effects, NyQuil can make you feel sleepy, so if you have to drive, operate machinery or do anything active, it’s best not to use NyQuil. But if your cold symptoms make it difficult to sleep at night, then using NyQuil may be a good choice.

How does NyQuil make you sleepy?

NyQuil contains an antihistamine, and antihistamine is a sleep inducer. Most product containing antihistamines always causes drowsiness and make you feel sleepy after taking them.

By blocking the production of histamine, not only do antihistamines control symptoms of allergies, but they also create a sedating effect.

So it is advised that if you’re taking NyQuil, don’t take it in the hours when you need to be active, and don’t take it with alcohol, as that can increase the sleepy effect. Also, don’t take NyQuil together with other sleeping pills like melatonin as it can cause risky sedative effects such as trouble breathing.

Are There Dangers Of Using NyQuil For Sleep

There are no specific studies that prove NyQuil is a safe sleeping aid option, however, a common risk that could be associated with using it as a sleep aid could be the overdose of other active ingredients like acetaminophen and dextromethorphan.

While you may be taking NyQuil because the antihistamine in it will help you sleep, beware that too much acetaminophen in your body could lead to serious liver damage, and too much dextromethorphan, on the other hand, can result in psychosis, a mental condition that causes hallucination and confusion. Dextromethorphan can also lead to other mental problems like paranoia and violent tendencies.

Theoretically, these are the dangers that could incur from using NyQuil for sleep.

However, a 2012 literature review showed the result of examining the use of antihistamines for sleep. The review suggests that some first-generation antihistamines may be helpful in temporarily treating insomnia.

Nevertheless, the research on the safe use of doxylamine succinate, the antihistamine used in NyQuil, for sleep is limited, but they concluded that doxylamine could cause other side effects other than inducing sleep.

Doxylamine may cause:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory congestion
  • Dry mouth, nose, and throat
  • Restlessness
  • Blurred vision

Additionally, using NyQuil for sleep could be a short-term treatment, because the body adapts quickly to the side effect and so grows a tolerance for it, thereby making the sedative effect weak.

How Long Does It Take NyQuil to Make You Sleepy

Depending on how fast your body absorbs the drugs, how you take it, how much of it you take, and what variety you use, NyQuil can make you feel sleepy within 30 minutes of taking it, and this effect could last for as long as 6 hours.

How Do I Wake Up from NyQuil

It might be difficult to shake off the sleepy feeling when you wake up the next morning after taking NyQuil.

This is called NyQuil hangover and you can get rid of it by:

  • Taking Coffee: Coffee is a great way to wake up from NyQuil effect, but don’t take too much of it as that can lead to side effects such as headaches, dizziness, anxiety, and nervousness.
  • Staying Hydrated: NyQuil dries up everything in your system, so you tend to cough less and blow your nose less. Drinking enough water when you wake up can help flush out any remnant of the medication, and rehydrate your system.
  • Eating: An empty stomach will only make you feel more hungover, but with food, your body has enough energy to flush NyQuil out of your system faster. Plus, eating increases your energy level so you become more active and less sleepy.

Can You Get Addicted To NyQuil

Although this is very rare, you can get addicted to NyQuil, but; some NyQuil products like NyQuil liquids contain 10% alcohol, and the active ingredient dextromethorphan in the drug can have a similar effect as a hallucinogen, which can create a feeling of being “high”.

People can get addicted to the feeling they get from taking the drug and withdrawal can be difficult, however, an addiction to this feeling can lead to psychosis and distorted reality.

What Are Other Sleeping Aid Alternatives

NyQuil is a cold and flu medication, and you shouldn’t use it as a sleeping aid, although it can help fight severe symptoms that could be making sleeping difficult so you sleep better.

However, if you’re not suffering from cold and flu symptoms, but have a sleeping problem, consult with your doctor to know if you require medication, as there could be several reasons why you’re having poor sleep quality, and sometimes all it takes to readjust your sleep hygiene.

If you find it difficult to sleep, you could try any of these tips to help you sleep:

  • Limit Caffeine Intake: Consuming substances that contain caffeine such as coffee and cola, can make it difficult for you to sleep, especially if you take them a few hours or minutes before your bedtime.
  • Have A Sleep Routine: Having a steady fixed time you go to bed, and when you wake up can help improve your sleep quality.
  • Stay Away Erom Electronic Devices: Using electronic devices such as your phones or PC, an hour before your bedtime may emit blue light that will block the secretion of melatonin in your brain, so you stay up at night.
  • Exercise Regularly: Exercising can help relax your nerves and relieve stress, which sometimes can be the reason you’re not getting adequate sleep. Try getting some exercises done an hour before going to bed.
  • Don’t Nap During the Day: If sleeping at night is difficult for you, sleeping more than 20-30 minutes during the day could contribute to making it harder to sleep at night.
  • Establish A Relaxation Routine Before Sleep: This will help you unwind from your day’s activity. You could take a cold bath, try meditation, or yoga, read a book or listen to soothing songs.


NyQuil can make you feel sleepy because it contains doxylamine, an antihistamine that helps relieve allergic reactions as well as make you feel dizzy and sleepy. However, NyQuil should not be taken as a sleeping aid. If you have a problem falling asleep, consult your doctor to know if you need medications.

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