Nobody likes to start off the day already exhausted because they spent the night tossing and turning thanks to insomnia. So if you happen to have some extra NyQuil in the house left over from your last cold or flu, it can be tempting to take a dose in order to lull yourself to sleep.
Susheel Patil, clinical director at Johns Hopkins Sleep Medicine, told HuffPost that it’s probably okay to use NyQuil or any other over-the-counter cold medication to help with insomnia “for a few days.” But anything more than that could cause significant problems, which is why you definitely shouldn’t get in the habit of taking NyQuil every night.
Per Healthline, NyQuil products typically contain an active ingredient called acetaminophen, which helps with cold and flu symptoms like body ache, a sore throat, and fever. Taking too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Doxylamine, which is the antihistamine in NyQuil that makes you drowsy, has side effects as well, including daytime sleepiness. People also build up a tolerance quickly, which is another reason you shouldn’t take NyQuil every night.
NyQuil can become addictive
It’s also possible to develop an addiction to NyQuil, per The Recovery Village. If you get in the habit of taking it every night, it will stop having the same effect. When your tolerance increases, it will likely take longer to fall asleep and you may find yourself waking up rather than sleeping through the night. When people begin taking higher doses of NyQuil or taking it more often, it’s a sign that they’ve become dependent on it which can lead to addiction.
Per Shape, people who take NyQuil or other over-the-counter products containing antihistamines develop a high tolerance fairly quickly, sometimes even within days. Dr. Stephanie Stahl, a sleep medicine physician at Indiana University Health told the outlet that “[t]hese medications can also worsen other medical problems and sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome.”
If you’re dealing with insomnia, it’s best to talk with your doctor about the best way to manage it. For example, Stahl told Shape that cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective way to treat insomnia without using medication. Per Verywell Health, other healthy and effective methods to treat insomnia include acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and diet adjustments.
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