Kirkland Signature Sleep Aid Review: My Week Long Test

kirkland signature sleep aid

I took the Kirkland Signature sleep aid every night for the last week to see if it would help with both my insomnia and dust mite allergy.

The main active ingredient is the anti-histamine Doxylamine Succinate, which is also used in other brands of over the counter sleep aids. Kirkland Signature is a private brand of Costco, and their sleep aid is widely available in the United States.

Interestingly, it has identical ingredients to Unisom SleepTabs. Perhaps that’s why they felt the need to state on the label that it’s not made by the same company.

In this Kirkland sleep aid review, I’ll be describing my experience taking it, which should be similar to when I tried Unisom – in theory. And I’ll also cover some of the warnings and side effects.


My experience


The first night

My first impression was that the Kirkland sleep aid is, like Unisom, very small and easy to swallow.

The instructions tell you to take one tablet 30 minutes before going to bed. So I took one just as I got into bed and then read for a while. I always like to read after testing a sleep aid to see if there are obvious signs of sedation.

And since I was staying with a friend again, who has a notoriously dusty house (sorry if you’re reading this!), I wanted to see if it would stop my sniffling.

After around 30-40 minutes of reading, I did indeed feel that my nose was less irritated. And I also switched the light out to go to sleep.

I then woke up around 6.5 hours later, which is a good result for me. I often wake in the night at least a couple of times, and I average 6 to 7 hours’ sleep on a good night.

I felt a little groggy on first waking up, but it quickly cleared up after a shower and coffee. This was again very similar to the first time I took Unisom.

The following nights

As I was expecting, the pattern for the rest of the week when taking the Kirkland sleep aid was quite similar to the Unisom – though not exactly the same, just to be clear.

One thing is for sure, it definitely helped me in my eternal battle with the invisible hordes of dust mite.

As for sleep, I slept pretty well for 5 of the remaining 6 nights, though did have sporadic wakings. On the fifth night, I really didn’t feel any drowsiness and had a restless night. Maybe I slept well again the final night through tiredness – it’s impossible to say.

Increasing morning grogginess

The groggy next-day effect also increased throughout the week, as it did with all the anti-histamine sleep aids I’ve tried in the past. This seems inevitable if you continue taking them, which is why I rarely take them for more than a few nights at a time.

So by morning 4, it was taking a couple of hours to transition from what I’d put as 70% alertness on waking to 100% alert.

Still, it’s not a bad trade-off for what felt like a reasonably good night’s sleep, and distinctly better than the lack of alertness I feel after a night of endless tossing and turning.

So all in all, I felt like it did its job of helping me get off to sleep when I was having trouble sleeping in the previous days. And the side effects were tolerable, though I wouldn’t want to push it and keep taking the sleep aid for longer.


What evidence is there that the Kirkland sleep aid works?


As with most over the counter sleep aids, the manufacturer doesn’t need to conduct clinical trials to sell it. All they need to do is adhere to the general standards in the country where supplements and ingredients of this type are concerned.

So, it’s probably more useful to see what evidence there is that the active ingredient works as a sedative. And for that, there’s no shortage of medical sites that talk about it causing drowsiness. The FDA even approved Unisom for use as a sleep aid.

A team of researchers in 2012 pointed out that it’s been an established drug for more than 50 years:

Currently, doxylamine medicinal products have been authorized for more than 50 years, with an appropriate extent of use, for symptomatic treatment of occasional insomnia, making doxylamine a drug with a well established use.

However, a team of researchers in 2015, which examined previous research studies into over the counter sleep aids, had this to say:

Currently available literature suggests that commonly used OTC sleep agents, especially antihistamines and valerian, continue to lack robust clinical evidence supporting efficacy and safety in relevant populations

So perhaps there was a placebo effect at work when I’ve taken anti-histamine sleep aids. It might also help explain why some websites with many customer reviews have a mixture of people saying sleep aids like this one either work amazingly or do nothing.


Further information


Ingredients

According to the patient leaflet:

Active ingredient

  • There’s one active ingredient – Doxylamine Succinate, 25 mg

Inactive ingredients

  • Dibasic calcium phosphate
  • FD&C blue no. 1 aluminum lake
  • Magnesium stearate
  • Microcrystalline cellulose
  • Sodium starch glycolate

As I mentioned earlier, these are exactly the same ingredients as Unisom SleepTabs.


Who shouldn’t take this sleep aid

The carton has the following warnings:

1. Speak to a doctor before use if you have:

  • Glaucoma
  • A breathing problem, such as asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis
  • Difficulty urinating because of an enlarged prostate gland

2. Ask a doctor or pharmacist if:

  • You are taking any other medication

3. When using this sleep aid:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Only take it at bedtime

4. Stop and speak to a doctor if:

  • The sleep problem continues for two weeks

5. If pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • Speak to a health professional first

6. Keep out of reach of children

7. If you overdose, get medical help or call a poison center

If you’d like to check this and more safety information, you can see the kirkland signature factsheet on drugs.com.

Warnings for older adults and children

I’ve seen an increasing number of medical sites recommend that older adults, as well as children, avoid Doxylamine Succinate. For example, WebMD says:

Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially drowsiness, dizziness, low blood pressure, confusion, constipation, or trouble urinating. Drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion can increase the risk of falling.

If you’d like some in-depth information about the use of this type of sleep aid among older adults, there’s an interesting research study from 2017 which looks into the issue and explains why it’s a potential problem.


Possible side effects

Like most over the counter sleep aids, the manufacturer is not required to list every possible side effect, since it’s sold as a supplement and not a prescription drug.

So, as with Unisom, I’ve checked medical sites like Mayo Clinic, WebMD and others for the known possible side effects of the active ingredient. They are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth, nose or throat
  • Headache
  • Constipation or difficulty urinating
  • Stomach upset
  • Memory problems
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Worse coordination
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Mental or mood changes (e.g. confusion, irritability, hallucinations)
  • Easy bruising/bleeding

So is it safe to take?

Most drugs can cause side effects, often with scarily long lists of potential problems. But generally, Doxylamine Succinate is tolerated reasonably well by most people for short-term use.

Having said that, I do recommend talking it through with your doctor if you’re concerned. Try not to use it for more than a few nights, and if you have any side effects, stop taking it. Finally, also try to work on your sleep problems naturally.


Your experience

Have you tried Kirkland Signature sleep aid? It’s always useful for readers to know what others think. So please feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

21 thoughts on “Kirkland Signature Sleep Aid Review: My Week Long Test”

  1. I have taken a half pill every night for a few years, it is my lifesaver! A full pill during the week makes me sleep too hard and then I don’t want to get up in the morning! No hangover, no side effects, love this stuff (I buy it on ebay!) :)

    1. Hi Chris
      Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s interesting to hear from someone who finds them so helpful.
      Regards
      Ethan

  2. I have been taking just a half of one pill for about a month now. I Have been having a problem with waking several times a night and not being able to fall back asleep for an hour or more each time. With this Kirkland sleep aid I sleep all the way thru for about 7 to 8 hours with no after effects. I have just developed a slight mucus problem, just a bit of phlegm at the top of my lungs and all it takes is a quick cough to expel. Could it be related to the sleep aid? It started at just about the same time I began taking the half pill. Otherwise no side effects that I am aware of. I love the full night sleep.

    1. Hi Tom
      Thanks for sharing your experience. It could be, but it’s not possible for me to say really. I’d be careful using it for longer as they aren’t meant to be taken long term, and in my experience the side effects of antihistamine sleep aids only build with time.
      Regards
      Ethan

    2. I have had the exact same experience. I take half of the pill and find that I tend to go straight back to sleep after waking, instead of tossing and turning for an hour or two. no other problems though.

  3. I have taken various sleep remedies for 15 years. Nothing has ever left me as hungover as Kirkland sleep aid. It took me a couple of hours to feel like I would be safe behind the wheel of my car. It was a horrible experience.

    1. Hi Lola
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. Sounds like it’s definitely not the one for you, and it’s good you recognised the effect it had on you, so that you could judge your ability to drive properly.
      Regards
      Ethan

  4. Hi! I am 22 and I am having a hard time getting myself to sleep. There are times that even I am tired or have been awake for a day I still can’t get to dreamland. So I am wondering if this product, once I drink it, will make me sleepy a few minutes after or does this product just help you stay asleep and not wake up in the middle of the night?

    1. Hi Yssa
      If it does work for you, then it might make you feel a little sleepy, yes. But not everyone will experience that – it depends on various factors.
      Regards
      Ethan

  5. I’ve been taken this sleep aid for a couple of years now with no side effects. I now only take a quarter of a pill to get my needed 6 to 7hrs. I’ve also recommended Mit to friends and co-workers and they all thanked me

    1. Hi Mike
      Thanks for sharing your experience. There’s no doubt that it can help some people – the only issue is the long-term usage!
      Regards
      Ethan

  6. Our Costco store in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada does not sell them. Can I buy them online? I had one several years back at my brothers home in BC and it worked great.

    1. Hi Marion
      I’m not sure, to be honest. You can get them on Amazon in the US, but not Canada. Maybe you can get them shipped from the US. But there may also be others with similar ingredients you might get closer to home.
      Ethan

  7. I have been taking this sleep aid for about 6 years (only when I need help falling/staying asleep) Unlike others that I have tried, they are perfect for me, as they enable me to fall and stay asleep. I am a person who needs 8 hrs. or more of sleep and I can attain that with this sleep-aid. I have never had the groggy feeling in the morning. Just the opposite, ready to tackle the world. I hope Costco never stops selling them as I have found them to be so beneficial and it always my luck that whenever I find something that works for me, they discontinue it.

    1. Hi JoLee
      Thanks for sharing your experience. That’s a really long time to take an anti-histamine sleep aid for. Have you ever discussed it with your doctor/physician?
      Regards
      Ethan

  8. I am 65 and have been taking Kirkland Sleep aid nightly for over twenty years without any side effects. (A few of my friends also take it nightly with zero side effects.) However, this past year my lips have become chapped, itchy and swollen and now my legs and face are itchy. My daughter recommended this product to her friend and after trying it said it made her itchy. (She did not know about my itchiness.) Could my itchiness be related to my sleeping aid?

    1. Hi Marcie
      Thanks for your comment. To be completely honest, I really can’t say if there is a connection. This is something you’d need to discuss with our personal doctor/physician. I think it would be a good idea anyway, as that’s a very long time to take a sleep aid for, and maybe they will have some advice about that too.
      Regards
      Ethan

  9. I love this sleep aid. Due to menopause, I’ve been having trouble falling asleep and sleeping well. I take a half of one pill almost every night, and sleep wonderfully. Due to reducing the dose, I rarely wake up groggy.

    1. Hi Joanne
      Thanks for your comment. It’s great you’ve found something that helps. Just be aware of the warnings and try to tackle your sleep without sleep aids in the long run if you can.
      Regards
      Ethan

    1. Hi Archie
      It’s usually recommended only to take these sleep aids if you need them – i.e. if you are experiencing bad sleep. And if it continues for 2 weeks, to speak to a doctor rather than continuing to take them.
      Regards
      Ethan

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.