Melatonin vs Benadryl (Diphenhydramine): Which Gets You Better Sleep?

For many years, my grandma has suffered from chronic insomnia. Interestingly, there isn’t any underlying health condition that could have resulted in this restless sleeplessness. At her age, she needs to get as much sleep as she can. I believe all she has to do is sleep and relax. Recommendations from friends brought melatonin and diphenhydramine up since they are both some of the most popular sleep aids available in the country.

Melatonin vs Benadryl

Nap [/nap/] noun
To sleep for a short period of time… intentionally or not.

Nonetheless, since the medications were being recommended for someone older, I had several questions on which of them is best suited for someone her age. Additionally, I needed answers to those questions to equally know which of the medications I should go for, just in case – I enjoy my sleep the way it is. Any threat needs to be eliminated immediately.

From my research, I found out that Benadryl is the best fit for chronic insomnia since it is a sedative. On the other hand, melatonin is healthier since it is a synthetic hormone and has lesser side effects. With this amount of conflicting interest, I figured several other people would likely be stumped on which options to go for.

The truth is, insomnia could come knocking on anyone’s door at any point in time. In light of that, it is best to be prepared with vital information before that happens. Come along as we dig deep into two of the most popular sleep aids: melatonin vs. Benadryl (diphenhydramine)

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin vs Diphenhydramine Benadryl Comparison

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is located just in the middle of the brain – a perfect location if you ask me since it controls the sleep and wake cycle. This gland is mostly controlled by light. It is inactive during the day and actively produces melatonin at night, causing you to fall asleep.

You must have heard melatonin being referred to as the ‘Dracula of hormones.’ This is because it only functions at night. In essence, the pineal gland starts producing the hormone around 9 pm, and the levels increase steeply and are maintained for about 12 hours.

During the day, the levels of hormones in the body are scarcely noticeable. One easy hack to fall asleep quickly is to put out the light in your bedroom and use the blue light screen for your devices. This reduces the light interpretation of the pineal and ensures that melatonin is produced. Asides from natural sunlight, artificial indoor light can also prevent the production of melatonin.

Appropriate Dosage of Melatonin

There is a very high chance that you have come across melatonin supplements, whether in pharmacies and food stores or through numerous advertisement campaigns. Melatonin is one of the few hormones available for sale in the United States without a prescription.

Since melatonin can be found in several food products, the law permits its sale as a dietary supplement. This means that it does not require approval by the Food and Drug Administration and is not regulated like other drugs and supplements.

While this might seem like a free hand, it has some drawbacks. Some of the brands producing melatonin supplements are not regulated, and so, the amount of melatonin in the product might be more than what is written on the package – it can also be less.

The recommended dose of melatonin is about 1 to 3 mg, which will increase melatonin levels in the blood to normal levels. Asides from the dose, it is also critical that you take note of the time you are using the medication. Using melatonin at the wrong time and inconsistently can mess up your entire sleep-wake cycle. This can result in more problems, one of which is falling deep asleep during the day, especially when you are at work. Due to this potential pitfall, it is advised that you consult your doctor before deciding on melatonin.

What Does Research Data Say About Melatonin?

Research data about the efficacy of melatonin is somewhat confusing. Melatonin might be an effective way of regulating your sleep-wake cycle, but when compared to other sedatives, it showed minimal effect on the quality of sleep. Also, there are some disparities in light exposure on the sleep-wake cycle compared to increasing melatonin levels in the blood. Nonetheless, sticking to a regular schedule will improve sleep quality, especially for those who work on shifts or experience jet lags.

Evidence from recent research revealed that melatonin might be useful in shortening the time it takes to fall asleep and also reduce incidences of wakening incessantly while sleeping. Other than that, there is very little that melatonin might do for your sleep.

Furthermore, melatonin is relatively safe, even for children, but might not be a good fit for long-term use. The big question remains, what is the right dose and time to use melatonin? We hope that further studies will reveal more findings that might help us benefit the most from melatonin.

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What Is Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)?

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine used in treating symptoms of cold, hay fever, and allergy attacks. It is common to use diphenhydramine to treat symptoms like itching, hives, sneezing, and runny nose. However, it is used as a sedative for treating insomnia because one of the primary side effects of diphenhydramine is drowsiness. Due to its calming and relaxing effect, it is also used in treating movement disorders like motion sickness and nausea.

Diphenhydramine is available in tablets or as an injectable. The effects of diphenhydramine last for almost 7 hours. Therefore, it is advised that you have enough time to sleep before taking the medication; otherwise, you might wake up feeling fuzzy.

What Are the Differences Between Melatonin and Benadryl Diphenhydramine

Are Diphenhydramine and Benadryl the same thing?

While diphenhydramine is an antihistamine, Benadryl is a brand name for a product that has diphenhydramine as its active ingredient. Aside from Benadryl, there are other brands of diphenhydramine such as Unisom, Diphen, Aler-Dryl, and Sominex, among others. However, Benadryl and Unisom are two of the popular brand names.

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Melatonin vs Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) – What’s the Difference?

Pros and Cons of Melatonin and Diphenhydramine Benadryl

I guess this is the most important part of this article – the meat of the bunch. Does both melatonin and Benadryl works? Of course, not with the same level of efficacy, though.

Several people around the world, based on their preferences, use either melatonin or Benadryl to fall asleep and, most importantly, stay asleep. Eventually, this decision is based on different reasons. It could either be the energized feeling that they get after waking up or the ease they fall asleep.

For some, all they need sleep aid for is to keep them asleep all night long. All in all, the decision on which product is a perfect fit is based on needs and preferences.

What is the Chemistry of Melatonin vs Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)?

The foundational difference between melatonin and Benadryl is that melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body. On the other hand, diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, is an antihistamine discovered in 1943.

The safety of melatonin is linked to the dose and regularity of use. Using melatonin for about 3 to 12 months is safe. Anything higher than that, and you might risk the down-regulation of melatonin by your body since it gets used to having melatonin-supplemented.

However, diphenhydramine is used to treat a wide range of conditions aside from insomnia. It is used in treating allergy attacks, anxiety disorders, among others. Although users might fall asleep within 30 minutes of using Benadryl, several side effects are associated with its use. Besides, there is an increased chance for users to overdose on this medication.

Even with all of these facts tabled, the most critical question remains: “which one is best suited for you?”

Which is Best Suited for Sleep?

By now, you know that both melatonin and diphenhydramine could provide the reprieve you need from staring at the ceiling all night. However, we still need to analyze how each of these medications is best suited for your sleep.

The best way to explain this is that Benadryl shuts down your brain and keeps you asleep for a particular duration, while melatonin helps your brain drift slowly into sleep. While Benadryl might get you asleep without your help, you might need to meet melatonin midway if you are serious about sleeping. Simple things like dropping your phone and turning the light down might help you sleep with melatonin. Otherwise, you might lay awake all night like every other day.

Which is Much Better to Take in the Long Term?

If you have insomnia, we hope that you are not looking for a quick fix. Most times, it takes time for your body to readjust in the direction that you desire. Notwithstanding, you should go for the options that will give you a better quality of life with reduced or minimal side effects.

Although melatonin is safer to take on a long-term basis since it is natural, Benadryl is a better choice for treating chronic insomnia – especially those that have defied other conventional methods.

However, you should consider the possibility of dependence on Benadryl. If you are susceptible to dependability on drugs, melatonin might be a better option. Nonetheless, if you find that melatonin is too subtle for your condition, then you might need to use Benadryl under strict supervision.

What are the Possible Side Effects of Benadryl?

Based on the comparison, Benadryl has the highest potential for side effects, all of which you should be familiar with before using it. Some of these likely side effects include:

  • Dysphoria
  • Hallucinations (auditory, visual, etc.)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Severe dizziness
  • Abnormal speech (inaudibility, forced speech, etc.)
  • Flushed skin
  • Severe mouth and throat dryness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Inability to urinate
  • Vomiting
  • Acute megacolon
  • Motor disturbances
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Disorientation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Delirium
  • Coma
  • Death

From this list, you can see that it is a terrible idea to joke around diphenhydramine overdose. The medication is regulated and has instructions on the package. Follow those instructions closely and contact your doctor if you experience any of the side effects.

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Things to Consider When Choosing Between Melatonin & Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Carefully analyze some of these questions before you conclude on either melatonin or diphenhydramine.

What is your sleeping problem?

This is perhaps the most vital question you need to ask before you start using a sleep aid. Knowing the cause of your insomnia will go a long way in influencing the course of treatment you need to embark on. Extreme stress at night, jet lags, night work shifts, and several others could be the cause of your sleeplessness. Consider the effectiveness of both melatonin and diphenhydramine. After that, you will know which is a better fit for your problem.

Do you experience extreme stress at night, which makes it extremely difficult for you to fall asleep? Then it might be better to go for diphenhydramine because it has a stronger punch.

Are you experiencing small troubles falling asleep at night, and do you feel that you need an extra push so that your body falls asleep better? Then you should try melatonin.

Are you suffering from insomnia, and can you still not fall asleep after having worked on your sleep hygiene? If you’ve done everything you can in your means – but you still can’t fall asleep, you can try diphenhydramine.

What’s your risk tolerance?

Consider your risk tolerance since you know diphenhydramine has harsher side effects compared to melatonin, which barely has any effect. If you can’t decide which of the two to go for, you can start with melatonin since you don’t want to add more stress to your body.

Can you take both melatonin AND Benadryl?

No. it is highly recommended and advised that you do not take both melatonin and diphenhydramine together with the hope that both will cancel out the side effects of the other. This combination can increase both medications’ side effects since they work through different mechanisms.

Guidelines for Using Melatonin and Diphenhydramine

Before you decide to use a sleep aid for insomnia, consider some of your sleep practices and hygiene. There are a lot of things that you could remove from your daily schedule, and sometimes a healthier diet, which would improve your sleep quality without necessarily using any drug.

If you have tried every conventional method and still have difficulty falling asleep, you can consider using a sleep aid or sedative. You can start by using a high-quality melatonin supplement. If you are sure that there isn’t any noticeable improvement, then you can use diphenhydramine. All in all, ensure you carry your doctor along and have a consultation to ascertain there isn’t any medical condition that might be causing insomnia

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The Bottom Line

In the end, it is strongly recommended that you take a good look at your sleeping problems and hone in on natural solutions, such as lifestyle tips to get better sleep. However, this might not work for everyone and in that case, you can take melatonin or diphenhydramine.

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What are the Other Sleep Medications That You Can Try?

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Set Alert for Product: Luna - Sleep Aid supplements Natural Sourced Ingredients Drug free solution for Relaxation Deeper sleep Mood Enhancement Give Relief from Stress & Anxiety | Herbal Supplement with Melatonin, Valerian Root, Chamomile - $18.95
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Luna Sleep Aid is a blend of naturally sourced ingredients, suitable for vegans and non-vegans alike. Frankly, falling asleep can sometimes be close to impossible with a thousand and one things running through your mind. This product provides a natural way to escape into dreamland.

It is made from amino acids and other hormone supplements that promote better sleep habits and relaxation. What’s best? There is a lifetime guarantee on this product to return it anytime if you do not like it.

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Set Alert for Product: ValuMeds Nighttime Sleep Aid (Twin Pack - 192 Softgels) Diphenhydramine HCl, 50 mg | Supports Deeper, Restful Sleeping for Men, Women - $14.99
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ValuMeds Nighttime Sleep Aid is an antihistamine medication specifically prepared to help you with incidences of sleeplessness. With this sleep aid, you can easily cross over into the deep, restful sleep we all need to recharge.

Like most antihistamines, it is not recommended that you use them for children. Use as directed and consult your doctor if you need further information. All in all, this product is considered safe for you.

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Set Alert for Product: NiteThru Advanced Sleep Aid Melatonin Dietary Supplement, 60 Capsules (Packaging May Vary) - $6.98
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NiteThru Advanced Sleep Aid Melatonin is probably the best thing that could happen to your bedtime. Of course, if you need to use this sleep aid for more than two weeks, then you need a visit to the doctor. Other than that, this medication works wonders on getting you the rest you need leaving you energized the next morning.

Melatonin is the safest sleep aid to use. More importantly, this medication works with a dual release system. The first is to help you fall asleep while the slower-acting release keeps you asleep. Great, isn’t it?

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Amazon Basic Care Sleep Aid Tablets are made from synthetically sourced plant extracts. It is beneficial for people who have trouble staying asleep. This medication provides the fuzzy feeling you need to shut out noises and other disturbances that might interrupt your snooze time.

Adults and children above 12 years can take this product. The best part, it is free of gluten, soy, and pain relief tinctures, which may compromise the health of the user. Try out this cheap route to a dreamland of bliss.

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Carlyle Melatonin Sleep Aid is a fast-acting relief to sleeplessness and unnecessary night tossing. It provides the perfect comfort you need to wake up the next morning feeling energized and refreshed.

It is made from melatonin, a natural hormone in the body. Since it is fast dissolving and fast-acting, the effects kick in as soon as you take the tablets, and you can get some snooze time. Of course, you shouldn’t form a habit of taking sleeping pills. Nonetheless, a berry flavor sleep aid wouldn’t hurt once in a while.

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[FAQs] Consumer Questions & Answers

Does Melatonin Work Better Than Benadryl?
This is primarily based on your needs and sleep problems. All the same, both melatonin and Benadryl are effective in treating insomnia

Is It Ok To Take Benadryl And Melatonin Together?
No. This is because both Benadryl and melatonin use different mechanisms to function.

Can I Take Alprazolam With Benadryl?
No. Alprazolam should not be taken with any medication that can cause drowsiness.

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