What’s that in my sleep aid?

I was recently visiting Wally World with my mom who has some pain issues and likes to take one of those “PM” versions of a pain reliever to help her sleep. We’re trying to figure out what’s cheaper and I happened to take a look at the ingredients listed on the boxes. I used to do this all the time, since I worked in a pharmacy in HS and learned a lot about over-the-counter (OTC) drugs from the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. But I had never looked at the sleep aids, because I never bought them.

When I read the boxes, over and over again, the drug listed was diphenhydramine hydrochloride, AKA Benadryl. And in each pill the dosage is 25 mg, the same as one Benadryl pill. When I explained this to my mother, we found the biggest box of Benadryl to buy (because the stuff is dirt cheap compared to sleeping aids) and now she has it for sleeping and allergy purposes.

Everyone knows that Benadryl has the potential to put many people to sleep, but I also know that there have been times where it gave me an energy boost. Since it, first and foremost, is an allergy medication, shouldn’t the labels on the sleep aids carry some kind of disclosure revealing this to people who aren’t familiar with the chemical names? And shouldn’t that disclaimer state something like “Though diphenhydramine HCl has been clinically tested and proven to relieve allergy symptoms, the success of the drug as a sleep aid may vary from person to person.” Or something like that. It seems completely misleading to market an allergy drug as a sleep aid without some sort of disclosure on the packaging, because people are spending a lot more money for a few sleeping pills than they would if they bought the same thing packaged as allergy pills.

For more information on how this allergy medication can help people sleep, please visit this page: http://healthblogonline.com/sleep-problems/insomnia-sleep-aids-and-medications/.  The explanation is in the seventh paragraph and you will probably need to scroll down a bit in the page to read it.

And a small note pertaining to drugs and pricing – if cost is an issue, please try the generic store brand. It is a lot cheaper and contains the same active ingredient(s) in the same dosage and proportions as the brand name. The inactive ingredients may differ, but this will not affect the drug’s performance or effects on most people. It can, sometimes, produce an allergic reaction or other effects that the brand doesn’t, but most of the time it won’t produce these effects.

There were a few sleep aids that contained another ingredient, doxylamine. It is the only alternative to Benadryl we could find in the sleep aid section. It seems to be only on the market to help people sleep, as far as I can tell. I say try the Benadryl first (it has the added benefit of helping with allergies in case that’s a concern, and it’s cheaper) and move to the other sleep aids only if the Benadryl doesn’t work.

And keep your eyes on the medicines listed on the boxes you buy. You never know what they’ll use to make your next box of pills.

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