Doxylamine is not recommended in the treatment of insomnia.


Doxylamine is a sleeping pill found in products like Unisom and Nyquil, which you can buy without a prescription. Some people take it to treat insomnia . Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes problems falling asleep or sleeping.

You do not need a prescription for doxylamine. However, this does not mean that the drug does not have potential side effects. Before taking doxylamine, consider the possible risks.

This article explains how doxylamine works, its uses, and the problems it can cause.

Get Medical Information / Jessica Olah


Doxylamine is an antihistamine , a drug often used to treat allergies. It can also reduce the symptoms of a nighttime cold. One of its side effects is drowsiness.

This effect can help some people who have trouble falling asleep or sleeping, which is why doxylamine is often used in over-the-counter sleeping pills. But keep in mind that it should not be used for more than two weeks to treat insomnia.

Like many sleeping pills , doxylamine affects neurotransmitters . These are chemical messengers that send signals between the brain and nerve cells (neurons). Doxylamine blocks the receptors that allow the chemical histamine to stimulate neurons. This causes drowsiness.

Doxylamine works centrally (in the central nervous system) and other parts of the body to calm you.

Before drinking

Doxylamine is an over-the-counter drug. For this reason, the risks may be slightly less than with prescription drugs that require careful monitoring. Routine testing is not recommended when using it.

After all, doxylamine is not the best option if you plan to take sleeping pills. There are other options that can help you sleep better.

Doxylamine does not promote sleep in the same way as prescription sleep medications, such as benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines.

Taking the drug is not recommended due to its side effects, in this case, drowsiness.

Doxylamine is not addictive. However, you can develop tolerance, which means that it will take longer to get the same effect. This can increase the risk of other side effects.

Precautions and contraindications.

Certain groups of people should not take doxylamine.

Age restrictions

Children under the age of 12 should not take 25 milligrams (mg) of doxylamine. Children under 6 years old and the elderly should not use it without consulting a doctor.


Taking small doses while breastfeeding shouldn't cause problems for the baby, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, higher doses or prolonged use can cause drowsiness, irritability, and colic symptoms in breastfed babies. It can also reduce your milk supply.

Medical conditions

Doxylamine should be used with caution in people with many medical conditions, as it can cause problems or drug interactions. These conditions include:

If you are concerned that you will have trouble taking doxylamine, you should first consult with your healthcare professional.

Negative drug interactions also pose risks, especially with other medications that affect the brain, so be sure to check with your healthcare professional or pharmacist before using doxylamine.

Side effects

The list of possible side effects of any drug can be quite long, and doxylamine is no exception. While you likely won't experience most of the side effects and may not have them at all, some of those that commonly occur with doxylamine include :

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dry mouth or nose
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blurred or double vision

Possible serious reactions.

Although rare, the use of doxylamine can cause serious side effects, including:

A Discussion Guide for a Healthcare Provider for Insomnia

Get our printable guide to your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.


Doxylamine is an antihistamine often used in over-the-counter medications to improve sleep. It is generally safe and effective, but should not be used for more than two weeks to improve sleep.

Side effects can range from dizziness and headaches to confusion and severe allergic reactions. Doxylamine should not be taken by people with certain medical conditions, such as glaucoma and heart disease. If you want to try it for insomnia, talk to your doctor first.

Get the word of drug information

If you have any difficulty taking this medicine, you should keep in close contact with your PCP. If you want to choose other treatments for insomnia, you should also make an appointment and discuss the prescription options available.

Effective treatments may include medications, improving sleep habits, or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) .

Frequently asked questions

  • No. Unisom is designed as a temporary sleeping pill and should not be taken for more than two weeks. If you need constant help falling asleep, talk to your doctor.

  • Yes. The doxylamine succinate in Unisome, taken along with vitamin B6, can treat morning sickness during pregnancy. Before taking a combination, check with your doctor to make sure it is right for you.

  • Doxylamine can increase your risk of developing dementia. This is due to its anticholinergic properties, which means that it blocks neurotransmitters that transmit messages throughout the nervous system. According to the researchers, anticholinergics are associated with a decrease in cognitive functions.

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