Benadryl and Melatonin: Skip the Sleep Aids and Do This Instead for Insomnia
Updated: Aug 8
Benadryl and melatonin are not your solution for treating insomnia and sleep issues. Learn better ways to improve your sleep.
You’re exhausted. Low energy. Distracted at work. Falling behind in the things you need to do at home. Feeling stressed.
You’re sick of not being able to fall asleep. Or, waking up and not being able to go back to sleep. You’re sick of the negative impacts that poor sleep has on your life.
If you’re having sleep issues, you’re not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep issues.
I know, it’s hard to believe so many people just like you suffer from chronic sleep issues.
It’s tempting to reach for the Benadryl, melatonin, and other sleep aids when we’re having trouble sleeping. But these medications can cause other side effects and do not help most people with their sleep issues.
What if I told you that there was a gold standard to treat your sleep issues that can help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and greatly improve your sleep quality in just 6-10 weeks?
That's right, I've helped hundreds of clients improve their sleep and lives with this treatment, and I know your sleep can greatly improve with it as well.
Learn why Benadryl and melatonin are not ideal for treating sleep problems and what to do instead to take charge of your sleep, mood, and productivity.
Benadryl and Melatonin: The General Problem with Sleep Aids
It is very common for people to turn to sleep aids such as Benadryl and melatonin to help with the treatment of insomnia and sleep issues. While medications can be helpful with a variety of conditions, they tend to be less helpful for sleep issues specifically. This is because there are so many factors that impact sleep, including our mood, lifestyle, thinking, and sleep behaviors.
Sleep issues have impacted even more people since the start of the pandemic. A 2021 study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine looked at sleep problems during the COVID pandemic and found that up to 40% of individuals across various studies have experienced significant sleep issues and sleep disturbance during the pandemic.
As more people suffer from sleep issues, turning to sleep aids is more common.
The General Problem with Sleep Aids
The general problem with sleep aids is they often do not address the underlying issue that is causing the sleep impairment. Sleep issues are often related to sleep behaviors, lifestyle factors (diet, exercise, substance use), medical conditions, and mood concerns such as stress, anxiety, and PTSD.
Therefore, sleep aids are more like a Band-Aid for the problem, rather than getting to the root of the problem. Here are some common underlying reasons for poor sleep that are not addressed with sleep aids:
There are a series of sleep behaviors that can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. This includes activities such as staying on our phone or watching TV right before bed, doing non-sleeping activities in bed such as eating or doing work, and sleeping in a hot environment.
Our exercise, nutrition, and substance intake has a significant role on the sleep that we get at night. Those who are not active physically, eat highly processed and sugary foods with limited nutritional value, and those who use recreational drugs or overuse stimulants such as caffeine or prescribed medications can experience issues with their sleep.
There are many medical conditions that can cause issues with sleep. Untreated sleep apnea is commonly under diagnosed and can cause significant issues with daytime sleepiness. Various neurological disorders, cardiovascular issues, respiratory problems, thyroid disease, and other medical conditions can often cause sleep issues.
There are many mood concerns and mental health conditions that can cause poor sleep. Stress and anxiety specifically have a high link with insomnia issues.
Those suffering from PTSD are likely to experience nightmares that disrupt sleep. Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions can disrupt sleep as well.
As you can see, there are many aspects that can impact sleep that need to be addressed for the sleep problem to resolve.
Specific Concerns Related to Benadryl and Melatonin
As mentioned above, sleep problems tend to act more as a band aid rather than a solution to sleep issues. Benadryl and melatonin can also have side effects that create other issues.
Benadryl is an over-the-counter antihistamine commonly used for allergies that is frequently used as a sleep aid. Benadryl and other antihistamines have been shown to have common side effects of:
· Rapid heart rate
· Low blood pressure
· Dry mouth and eyes
· Dizziness and headaches
Furthermore, practice guidelines for treating insomnia from the Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend against the use of the Benadryl and other similar medications for the treatment of insomnia.
Research shown a lack of significant clinical data to suggest that this medication is safe and effective for the treatment of insomnia.
Melatonin is a common over-the-counter supplement that many use to address sleep issues. The body naturally produces melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
When people are on a regular sleep-wake schedule, melatonin is released before bedtime to help induce sleepiness and relaxation so individuals can fall asleep. In a regulated sleep-wake cycle, melatonin is released as expected to assist with sleep initiation.
Therefore, people commonly take melatonin to try to fall asleep. However, the Academy of Sleep Medicine also recommends against the use of melatonin for sleep onset or sleep maintenance insomnia due to the low quality of evidence suggesting that melatonin significantly improves sleep latency or quality.
While melatonin is generally considered safe, the following side effects have been associated with melatonin:
· Daytime sleepiness
A 2017 study investigating the amount of melatonin in over-the-counter supplements found that the actual amount of melatonin in supplements ranged from 83% less than the amount on the label to 478% more than the stated concentration on the label.
This study suggests that melatonin labels in over 71% of over-the-counter supplements were inaccurate.
Furthermore, the same study found that 26% of supplements analyzed contained serotonin. Unlabeled serotonin can have serious side effects for those who are taking other medications with serotonin, such as SSRIS to treat mental health concerns.
Excess serotonin can lead to serotonin syndrome, which can result in dangerous interactions.
Skip Melatonin and Other Sleep Aids: Choose CBT-I Instead
Chances are if you are reading this article, you are either taking sleep aids that are still not resolving your insomnia issues, or you are considering taking them.
What if I told you that there was a gold standard for insomnia and sleep treatment that could show you significant improvement in your sleep in just 6 to 10 weeks without the side effects of sleep aids?
The good news is, this is not a wish or a hope, but rather a reality with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).
CBT-I has been consistently shown to significantly improve issues with falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up too early.
CBT-I helps address the root of sleep issues (unlike sleep aids) and improves insomnia by addressing sleep hygiene, stimulus control factors, sleep efficiency training, relaxation training, cognitive training, and other strategies utilized in combination to be a highly effective treatment for sleep issues.
Due to the large number of high quality research studies demonstrating the effectiveness of this treatment, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that CBT-I be utilized as an initial intervention for insomnia.
If you're not ready to engage in this treatment but want to take some steps towards improving your sleep, download CBT-I Coach, a free app that models the treatment.
It's important to note that an app will not give the same benefits as a formal treatment, but it can be a good place to start.
Poor sleep interferes in our mood, productivity, leisure activities, and so much more. While it is tempting to reach for the sleep aids, they generally do not help insomnia and can have unpleasant side effects.
The good news is, CBT-I is the gold standard treatment that can help resolve insomnia in just 6-10 weeks.
Skip the sleep aids and get to the root of your sleep issues for improved mood, stress levels, focus, and so much more.
Poor sleep getting you down? As a stress and sleep doctor, I have helped hundreds of people resolve their sleep issues to reduce stress, improve productivity, and help them step into the best version of themselves.
I want to help you end the struggle with poor sleep and stress too. Book a discovery call so we can talk about how to improve your life, asap.
-----About Dr. Julia
Hi! I'm Dr. Julia. Health psychologist, stress and sleep expert, and creator of the Master Stress Method.
I have worked with thousands of individuals in major hospitals, university medical centers, and primary care settings to improve their stress levels, sleep, and overall emotional and physical well being.
My current focus is helping busy professionals prevent and manage the high stress that is getting in the way of their productivity, mood, sleep, and their ability to reach their full potential.
My 8-week, 1:1 coaching program has helped hundreds of stressed out, overwhelmed, and burned out clients significantly reduce their stress and anxiety, improve their sleep, and maximize their productivity, in just 8 short weeks.
I can't wait to help you stop the struggle with stress, for good. Let's chat :)