Physical Health Sleep

Getting Those Zzzzz’s

Once those all-nighters and bouts of procrastination take their toll, many students find that a good night’s sleep evades them. Often times, they turn to the new over-the-counter sleep aid from Vicks, the maker of NyQuil, called ZzzQuil, for a drug-induced slumber to once again sleep at a more practical time and perform better during the day. However, many are not aware that the active ingredient in this sleep aid is not meant to be a sleep aid at all! Actually, ZzzQuil contains diphenhydramine, which happens to also be the active ingredient in Benadryl.

On the surface, this little marketing trick may seem harmless. However, diphenhydramine is not meant to be used as a sleep-inducing drug. It is actually an antihistamine—it helps with allergies, nasal inflammation, and the like, and the drowsiness that results from consuming diphenhydramine HCl is actually a side-effect of the drug itself. Taking ZzzQuil can also result in headaches, dizziness, or difficulty urinating, all of which impair the daily life of busy Berkeley students and work against your efforts to pay attention in class.

Although these side-effects seem scary, ZzzQuil and other sleep aids are safe to use if taken correctly. The effects of diphenhydramine differ from person to person and may lessen over time with continual use. Double doses of any medication should never be taken without medical consult, even if they do not seem to be working as they should. If you even have the slightest doubt that it can complicate a preexisting condition such as high blood pressure or asthma, consult your doctor. They’re there to educate you about what you take into your body.

The best thing to do for a better night’s sleep, though, would be to avoid caffeine and sugar after 6 pm or go out for some exercise two hours before bedtime. Even a change in your study habits to avoid those perilous all-nighters that disrupt normal slumber can help increase the normalcy of your sleep pattern and make it easier for you to focus during the school day. If all else fails though, ZzzQuil and other sleep aids are definitely viable tools for regulating sleep, though they should only be used occasionally and as directed.

Article by Amanda Lu

Feature Image Source: Michigan Health Blog