Why Do Allergy Pills Make You Tired – Do allergy pills (antihistamines) help you sleep? It’s a known fact that sleep doesn’t always come easy for many. Despite decreasing caffeine intake, doing regular exercise, and grooming a comfortable sleep environment with essential oils, some people still go through terrible insomnia. Although sleep problems like that usually go away in time, over-the-counter sleep aids become a necessary treatment for those who suffer from it on a daily basis.
If this predicament sounds familiar, considering sedating antihistamines as an option is not a bad idea. However, it’s vital that you educate yourself first about the advantages and side effects of over-the-counter medications before you hit the pharmacy aisles.
What Are Antihistamines
Antihistamines, also known as histamine antagonists, are a type of medication that helps relieve allergic reactions. One of its adverse effects is heavy-headedness and drowsiness which is also the purpose why people with insomnia take it. Antihistamine sleep aid is available to purchase over-the-counter and does not need any prescription. However, if administered with other drugs, it can potentially produce harmful effects.
Histamines are the reason for the production of antihistamines. Histamines are chemical compounds present in the body for the benefit of its immunity. When your immune system detects a threat, an injury or a foreign substance, tissue cells and white blood cells release histamines to create an inflammatory response. Blood flow increases to the problem areas as well as proteins and white blood cells to repair damaged tissues.
Although histamines may seem like a necessary tool for your body’s healing, it also produces adverse effects during the process which is also simply known as an allergy. Allergies occur because your immune system thinks dust, pollen, or certain foods are a danger. Histamines then try to eliminate these dangers and produce a variety of symptoms in the process.
Moreover, when a flu virus hits you, histamines will cause nasal congestion and a runny nose while trying to strengthen your blood vessels.
How Do Antihistamines Work
Some antihistamines make people fall asleep, and there are those that are better in fighting allergic reaction. In the human body, there four histamine receptors respectively named H1, H2, H3, H4. The histamine receptors in the brain, the H1, are responsible for making you feel drowsy. However, its effects greatly depend on the histamine system.
Do antihistamines help you sleep? It does – but for a price. The H1 in the brain is also involved in how the brain perceives pain, mood alterations, focus, learning, and memory. People with food allergies or any allergy symptoms who take over-the-counter histamines are more likely to experience a significant loss in the parts mentioned above of the brain.
Antihistamine sleep aid is one of the most accessible over-the-counter sleeping pills, the reason why insomniacs reach out for it as a fast cure. You don’t need a doctor to buy it, and every pharmacy has it. However, like many other otc sleep aids, antihistamines can also change a person’s natural sleep pattern. It can leave patients with chronic insomnia groggy and lethargic after a night’s sleep and does not help create good sleep hygiene.
Antihistamines are what doctors prescribe patients who have a history of insomnia caused by alcohol and drug withdrawal. They prefer administering diphenhydramine over other over-the-counter otc sleeping pills to avoid negative effects such as cross dependence. Mixing sleep medications with other substances can pose a threat so make sure to consult first with your doctor.
Why Do Allergy Pills Make You Tired – What Chemicals Are In Antihistamines
Zyrtec and Claritin are both famous sleep aid medications. While both drugs keep the immune system calm due to a reaction to allergens, they do not have the same composition or ingredient makeup. Cetirizine is the active ingredient in Zyrtec while loratadine is what makes up Claritin. Both of them are non-sedating antihistamines.
Diphenhydramines and doxylamine can also be found in antihistamines, mostly those who hail from the first generation. Drugs which include these active ingredients are not recommended for patients who have a history of asthma, glaucoma, pulmonary diseases, and liver problems. That is because diphenhydramine and doxylamine have anticholinergic properties and can also increase the risk of dementia. They also cause hallucinations, watery eyes, dry mouth, hay fever, constipation, urinary retention, blurry vision, confusion, and tachycardia or rapid heart rate.
Aside from diphenhydramine, melatonin and tryptophan are also active ingredients in otc sleep medications. The melatonin in these drugs is synthetic but specifically designed to mimic the natural melatonin’s sole purpose: signaling our bodies for bed.
Why Do Allergy Pills Make You Tired
Lethargy is a common side effect of antihistamines, but that is mainly to do with our immune system’s histamines. Histamine promotes wakefulness, focus, and motivation. When histamines in the body fight off symptoms of a virus or bacteria, they cause other side effects such as a runny nose or skin inflammation.
Why does allergy medicine make you tired? Antihistamines can successfully relieve symptoms of an allergic reaction but, at the same time, they block histamine receptors that are responsible for goal-directed behaviors. That, in turn, transforms a person from being active to uncontrollably falling asleep.
Why Do Allergy Pills Make You Tired – Non-Drowsy vs Drowsy Antihistamines
There are two main groups of antihistamines: the first-generation antihistamines or the drowsy bunch and the second-generation antihistamines or the non-drowsy group.
First-generation antihistamines including hydroxyzine, chlorphenamine, promethazine, and many more, are medications that make you fall asleep quickly. Second-generation antihistamines such as loratadine, cetirizine, and fexofenadine are the ones that help you counteract an allergic reaction without making you want to go to bed. Both over-the-counter medications come in syrup, capsule, and tablet forms.
Why does allergy medicine make you tired? Drowsy antihistamines, including Benadryl, are extremely sedating because it penetrates not only the allergies but also the brain. They are particularly helpful for people who suffer mold sores, bed bug bites, jet lag, or sleep apnea to make them feel calm and achieve a good night’s sleep. However, they are deemed dangerous to administer to people who need to work, operate a machine, or drive.
Non-drowsy antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra are specifically designed to combat and reduce allergic reactions without causing lethargy. They do not penetrate the brain unlike the first-generation antihistamines and the effects last even longer.
Do antihistamines help you sleep? First-generation antihistamines do, but some newer generation antihistamines don’t. Nasal spray antihistamines are one of those medications that only target allergy symptoms without passing through your bloodstream. If you do not want to fall asleep and want to avoid dependence on second-generation antihistamines, the intranasal corticosteroid is the best way to go.