I recently tried Nytol One-A-Night, which is a popular over the counter sleeping pill containing the antihistamine diphenhydramine as the active ingredient.
I also tried the Nytol Herbal version not long ago, so I’ll be comparing the effectiveness of both in this review.
I took the herbal version for three nights, and then had a week without using any sleep aids. Following that, I took one 50 mg tablet of the One-A-Night for four nights.
I know from experience that antihistamine sleeping pills work quite well for me, so there was more of a chance of a placebo effect. I’ll try to give as unbiased an account as possible though.
The Nytol knockout
Compared to the herbal version, I thought I might experience a more noticeable sedative effect. That’s kind of what happened, just not exactly how I imagined.
The instructions say to take it 20 minutes before bed. I did that on the first night and stayed awake reading for around 40 minutes – I was curious to see if I could detect any feeling of drowsiness that was different from how I’d normally feel in bed.
There was still no noticeable effect after 40 minutes, so I switched the light off anyway. I believe I then fell asleep within ten minutes, and woke up nine hours later!
I didn’t wake up once during the night, which is unusual for me, and overslept the alarm by one hour. So it appeared that the Nytol had done its job.
Feeling the effects in the morning
In the morning, I felt quite refreshed – both mentally and physically. However, I also had a bit of a fuzzy head and felt some light pressure on my forehead, just above my eyes.
It’s strange when sleep aids work this way; you feel like you slept well, but also have some nagging side effects that remind you that you just took a sleep aid.
The fuzzy sensations slowly faded on their own, taking a couple of hours to completely disappear. So although the Nytol seemed to give me a good night’s sleep, it didn’t leave me feeling 100% the next morning.
I was still able to go about my day and work, but those symptoms were annoying.
The following nights
On the second night, I repeated the same routine. There was the same effect of not feeling drowsy, but I still fell asleep relatively quickly. I again woke up in the morning without any memory of nocturnal wakings. And once again, I had a fuzzy head.
On the third night, I don’t think the sedative effect was quite as strong. The manufacturer advises that you can develop a tolerance to Nytol, but night three seemed quite soon to me.
I woke up a couple of times in the night this time, but admittedly still slept pretty well. The next morning symptoms were similar though.
I tried it one more time, and again didn’t have a repeat of the first or second night’s total knockout, but still slept quite well.
By this point, I’d had enough of the groggy feeling, was content with a couple of good nights’ sleep, and didn’t take them again that week.
Would I take Nytol One-A-Night again?
The Nytol appeared to work quite well for me, and I appreciated sleeping right through the night. The persistent fuzzy head the next day was an issue though.
On balance, I might consider taking Nytol again, but only as a one-off if I felt I really needed it. I much prefer to focus on natural techniques to sleep better without relying on a sleep aid that gives me lingering side effects as a trade-off for the easy way to get some sleep.
How it compares with the herbal type
The first thing to note is that the Nytol One-A-Night don’t smell or taste as bad as the valerian-based herbal ones, so that’s a plus.
They were considerably stronger in effect than the herbal pills for me too. Strangely, I did feel a sedative effect with the others while still awake, which I didn’t with the One-A-Night.
I didn’t feel any effects the next day with the herbal pills though, so they both have their pros and cons.
Please remember that this was just my experience with the two types. It could be completely different for you, and as you’ll see in the comments below, people react differently to them.
Update: trying Nytol Original (25mg)
Nytol Original is very similar to the One-A-Night, except you take 2 x 25 mg pills instead of 1 x 50 mg.
So I was curious to see what would happen if I only took 25 mg, and if the lingering next-day effects would be less of an issue.
I tried just one pill for three consecutive nights and did find they were better for me. I still experienced a sedative effect – not as much as the 50 mg dosage, but enough to help me sleep a bit better.
The headache and fuzzy head weren’t as bad in the morning, though I didn’t feel 100% clear either.
So I think this is one to consider if you’d like to start with a lower dosage, or found the higher one made you feel groggy in the morning.
Update: trying other sleep aids that contain diphenhydramine
Nytol isn’t the only sleep aid that uses diphenhydramine as the active ingredient. I’ve now tried a couple of others and had a very similar experience each time.
So for me personally, I can be fairly sure that the sedative effect and potential side effects will be quite consistent no matter which brand I take.
From the instruction leaflet on the pack I bought, the ingredients are:
- Diphenhydramine hydrochloride 50mg
- Anhydrous lactose
- Microcrystalline cellulose
- Maize starch
- Stearic acid
- Silicon dioxide
Possible side effects
The leaflet describes the following possible side effects:
- Reduced attention
- Dry mouth
- Allergic reactions (like a rash, shortness of breath or swelling)
- Blurred vision
- Palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- Muscle twitching
- Pins and needles
- Nausea or vomiting
- Thicker bronchial mucus
- Difficulty urinating
If you notice any of these side effects, or have any other new symptoms when you take Nytol, stop taking the Nytol and consult your doctor or a pharmacist.
Who shouldn’t take it?
If any of the following conditions or situations apply to you, the manufacturer advises against taking it, or consulting a doctor first:
- Children under the age of 16.
- If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients.
- If you have: a stomach or gut obstruction, such as an ulcer.
- Asthma, bronchitis or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
- Narrow-angle glaucoma.
- Enlarged prostate or urinary retention.
- Moderate or severe liver disease.
- Myasthenia gravis, epilepsy or seizure disorders.
- You shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery.
- You shouldn’t drink alcohol.
- Intolerance to lactose or some sugars.
- If you’re taking other medication, talk to a doctor first. Especially antidepressants, atropine, other antihistamines or any that cause drowsiness.
- If you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.
- If your sleep problem lasts longer than 2 weeks, or you need a higher dose of Nytol to fall asleep.
Warnings for older adults
If you’re an adult over 60, I highly recommend consulting your primary care doctor, physician, or pharmacist before taking Nytol. And for that matter, any sleep containing the antihistamines diphenhydramine or doxylamine. This includes Advil, Tylenol, and Benadryl, for example.
The current guidelines in the United States is that sleep aids containing first generation antihistamines like diphenhydramine should be avoided by older adults.
Reading for older adults
If you’d like to find out more about this recommendation, here are some sources to start you off:
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh published an interesting study in 2018. Here’s a quote from their work that summarises the issue clearly:
Diphenhydramine has potentially harmful effects on older adults including risk of motor impairment and anticholinergic effects; its use is also associated with falls. Diphenhydramine may be especially dangerous in older adults due to its longer half-life compared younger individuals. Another safety risk of using diphenhydramine at night is the presence of a residual sedative effect the morning after use .
Pharmacytoday.com lists medications that are not recommended for older adults. This is taken from the Beers criteria, which are widely used by healthcare practicioners to guide treatment choices for older adults. They explain why diphenhydramine is to be avoided as:
…clearance reduced with advanced age, and tolerance develops when used as hypnotic; risk of confusion, dry mouth, constipation, and other anticholinergic effects or toxicity
The full Beers criteria was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, though you need to pay to access the full text. That’s why I mentioned the Pharmacy Today article instead.
Choosingwisely.org also briefly mentions that the antihistamines should be avoided.
Interestingly, in the UK, the website of the National Health Service only recommends starting with the lower dose if you’re aged over 65 because you’re more likely to get side effects. I think it’s wise to ask your GP for their advice first though if you plan on using it as a sleep aid.
Medicines.org.uk has an online patient leaflet for Nytol.
As well as discussing using it with your own doctor, you can use the Nytol website contact page to ask the manufacturer questions (not a paid link).
As well as considering sleeping pills, you might find it useful to read my own recommendations for sleeping better that don’t involve any medication.
Have you tried Nytol One-A-Night, Nytrol Original, or the herbal type?
Please leave a comment below describing your experience with them, and whether they helped you sleep better or not.
Hi it’s the first time I’m going to take any sleep aid tonight. I suffer from anxiety. I’m trying to sleep and my mind never stops hence why I’m trying Nytol, just hope they do the job.
Thanks for your comment. I hope they helped – let me know if they did (or didn’t).
I suffer from vertigo/giddiness, and the prescribed drug from my doctor for my insomnia left my head spinning in the morning.
So tried Nytol, at her suggestion.
Just had the best night’s sleep I can remember.
Only took half recommended dose taking advice from other reviewers.
No extra vertigo this morning, and feel refreshed.
So far really impressed…will see if they continue to help without any extra vertigo.
That sounds very positive Dave. I hope they continue to work well for you.
I have been using Nytol, and I’ve had no side effects. It does exactly what it says.
Thanks for sharing your experience Damie!
I use Nytol 50 about twice a week: brilliant; good 7 hours with no negative effects.
I rarely suffer from insomnia, but this week I’ve been finding it hard to fall asleep and then when I do sleep, I keep waking up. My GP suggested I try OTC medication. I am totally against taking any kind of drugs, however I decided to try Nytol. I fell asleep but woke after 3 hours, then slept on and off for the rest of the night. I didn’t feel drowsy the next day. But to be honest I am glad it didn’t knock me out completely as I worry about becoming addicted to these kinds of drugs.
Has anyone found that the two pills of the 25 work very well, but the single ‘one a night’ pill has no effect?
Unless I’ve developed a tolerance to them, after very occasional use (once or twice a week) over the past two months, the ‘one a night’ pill I took two times this week left me lying awake until 7.30am, no help at all. By contrast, taking two of the 25 has given me great nights sleep, despite feeling dreadful for a couple of hours the following morning.
I wonder whether this has something to do with the way having two pills dissolve has a stronger impact than a single one.
Hey Ethan, just a I don’t know how much you paid for the Nytol but just a little heads up for you, the Tesco own brand Sleep aid tablets (active ingredient 50mg Diphenhydramine) are exactly the same tablets as the Nytol ones with the N50 on them, but they only cost a fraction of the price, £3.80 for a box of 20, or £2 for a box of 20 25mg ones.
Diphenhydramine gives me some unwanted side effects though like muscle pains and sometimes nausea so I usually supplement my prescribed Zolpidem (Brand name Ambien) from the Dr with Promethazine products. I’ve found the Zolpidem puts me to sleep but the Promethazine keeps me asleep.
Hope you are well.
Thanks for your comment. The own brands of products like this are often much cheaper indeed. Did your doc give you the ok to combine those two sleep aids?
First time 2 nights ago I took nytol and last night . Fell asleep very quickly and had a good nights sleep both times . He heads a bit fuzzy but nothing else .
What are the promethazine products that you use please? I use melatonin if I can get it (and it takes ages to work) but I only sleep for a short while then wake again, then have to start the whole process again. I need something to keep me asleep I’m. I have zolpidem from the Dr but it gives me an unbearable headache and nausea so I rarely take it
I live in an area plagued by midges, and bites in the evening can make it difficult to sleep. Nytol solves both the itching and wakefulness.
I’ve tried the herbal pills: I refer to them as the ‘nondrowsy’ version. They simply don’t work for me.
One 25mg tablet is enough almost every time. I can always take a second tablet if necessary but rarely do. I probably get through a box every summer. Morning drowsiness is easily dispelled by a mug of decent coffee (about 15g of freshly-ground beans).
The 50mg tablets are excessive for me, and I’m quite large, at 75Kg.
Thanks for sharing your experience. As someone who has allergies, I know how useful these type of pills can be sometimes when you have both insomnia and itchiness! If nothing else, it makes you feel like it’s okay to take them as you’re killing two birds with one stone – or in your case, two midges…
Hi, I tried first Kalm’s herbal(valerian) and didn’t know that I could have bought the diphenhydramine version. It didn’t work for me at all. In fact I even took 12 capsules one night(8 is the max) and it had no effect.
I then did a bit of research and bought Boots own brand which was much cheaper than Nytol. Today I will try it out and see the difference. I will still keep the remaining Kalms capsules as they can be used for anxiety.
I experienced the same thing. I took it 20 mins before bedtime, but the results come much later. Again I don’t know why they mention 20 mins.
I tried Nytol for 3 nights in a row.
Night one and two, out like a light. But, by night 3 I seemed to have built up a resistance.
The worst side of them for me has been strong feelings of anxiety (even depression), tingling and numbness in my right leg and a lot of grogginess the next day.
I can’t see myself taking them again for a while, but for a one off they did get me to sleep and kept me asleep, but the side effects are a lot to consider.
Thanks for your comment. I’m not a doctor, just to be clear. But personally, if any product caused me anxiety and/or tingling and numbness in my limbs, I would definitely stop taking them. And I wouldn’t take them, or any other product with similar ingredients (which is often the case with over the counter sleep aids) until I’d spoken to my doctor about the side effects.
Hi Jenny I noticed your review on nytol how long did the side effects last?
I’ve been taking the Nytol 50 one a night tablets and I’m getting a great night’s sleep and I feel the benefits of it the following day. They make me drowsy and I’m sleeping a good eight hours straight through and if I wake during the night I have no trouble falling back to sleep. I’ve had years of very broken and very little sleep. Prescription sleeping tablets make me alert and give me a bad headache, herbal remedies do nothing for me except one that knock me out and made me feel really groggy and sluggish the next day. I’ve been on melatonin which helped me fall asleep but I would never get a full nights sleep. So its a thumbs up from me for Nytol 50 though I’m not sure what length of time is safe to continue using them.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I think it’s always useful to speak to a doctor about taking sleep aids if you’ve been taking them for a while or are wondering how long it’s ok to take them. Even if they can be bought easily over the counter, it’s still good to get a medical opinion I think. And when it comes to sleep aids like this, the general advice is to try not to become dependent on them and to not take them endlessly – unless a doctor recommends it. Personally, I try never to go over a week of taking an over the counter sleep aid, and just use them from time to time to get through a bad patch if nothing else seems to be helping.
I’ve tried nytol herbal on two separate occasions for 2 nights each. I’ve noticed both times now that I feel quite down and a little nauseous each time. I also felt very anxious which is not like me at all. It’s a shame as I did sleep better.
Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like these aren’t the ones for you!
Can using Nytol cause very bad snoring
I’m not sure, to be honest. I can imagine it might for some people, depending on how they react to it and the effect it has on their sleep, but I don’t know of it being a significant or widely-reported side effect.
Lorazepam is the answer for me. I only take 1/2 tablet at a time, one hour before bed, maybe once or twice a week. It guarantees me 8 hours sleep, and I wake up feeling refreshed with no side effects. My insomnia issue was waking up in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep – I rarely have trouble falling asleep. Lorazepam works either way; you gradually feel dopier and dopier after 30 or 40 minutes of taking it.
I used to use various OTC meds with diphenhydramine hydrochloride, but they often made my body feel…weird. Like a crawly feeling in my veins. And the fuzzy head the next day. Lorazepam is prescription only, and a controlled substance here in North America. It can be addictive for those inclined to addition, but for me it’s been a lifesaver. My doc prescribes 20 pills at a time, and that tends to last me around 6 months.
I also tried chewable gummies with CBD, the active component of cannabis which is perfectly legal here, that also helped, but they tend to be pricy unless your medical insurance covers it.
Thanks for your comment. What you say makes sense to me. Personally, I prefer to avoid stronger sedatives, but it’s a topic to discuss with your prescribing physician. It’s interesting that you say CBD helped a little. I tried it several times and had no real effect on my sleep!
Just try Zopiclone if your GP will give it to you. Totally knocks you out. No questions.
Hi Ethan. Thanks for reviewing this. As an on/off insomniac, I have mixed reviews for Nytol. I find that I feel better during the day if I don’t take Nytol even if it means I haven’t had any sleep!
Nytol gives me this weird, confused anxious feeling that doesn’t budge all day way beyond the 8 hours after they are supposed to wear off. I would rather feel plain tired than feel like this. I took a 50mg when I woke at 1.30am this morning, (I am off work today so thought I would risk taking one) managed to get to sleep and sleep all the way through but felt very anxious on waking.
In the past I have also had experiences with Nytol where I have taken one before bed at 10pm, still woken up in the night unable to get back to sleep, very restless, resulting in a no sleep + nytol hangover! Not pleasant!
I think the next day side effects outweighs the sleep I might get. I’m going to throw the box away so I am not tempted with them again as I don’t think they are an option for me
Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the anti-histamine based sleep aids can cause problems like this, more for some people than others. I think you’re right in that if it leaves you feeling anxious the next day, it’s not worth continuing with.
I take Nytol (one a night 50mg) on a regular basis. I had been taking sleeping tablets for months and just found they were to strong. The problem I have is I am now taking Nytol every night to ensure a restful sound sleep, this is all down to stress, what if any are the side effects of regular use of Nytol ?
Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure how the side effects change in the long-term, but it’s generally not advised to take Diphenhydramine hydrochloride for long periods. I’d look up the side effects specific to that ingredient on sites like drugs.com or webmd to see what they currently say.
I don’t have a problem falling asleep but I do have trouble staying asleep beyond three or fours hours. I treat myself to half a Nytol at the week-end and it certainly helps me go back to sleep when I wake (when this happens I take advantage of popping to the loo just in case a full bladder wakes me later) and therefore I am able to sleep for longer which is a wonderful treat! I am mindful not to take them too regularly.
Hello, I know this is a bit late but thought I would add to it.
Personally, I have generalized anxiety disorder, which affects my sleep sometimes for a long period of time. On top of this, I work between nights and days, swapping every two weeks by 12 hours.
I have tried nytol, and found my tolerance builds up so fast by the third dose there is no effect. It does seem to work for the first two nights, but it also seems to exacerbate my anxiety the next day.
Recently I have tried Sominex which has promethazine hydrochloride as the active ingredient. Now it’s safe to say this was a far more powerful sedative effect than the nytol, and less side effects the next day it seems. But the tolerance issues still persist.
I think it is worth noting, as some comments suggest very long term use, that these are addictive and cause more issues than they solve if you habitually take them :)
Thanks for your comment. I also find tolerance builds with most of these type of over the counter sleep aids. Though really, it’s the increasing side effects as the week goes by that usually concerns me more.
Either way, long-term use is best avoided for any sleeping pill in my opinion.
I started taking nytol about a year ago because I quit drinking alcohol completely. I was severely addicted, heavy alcoholic and smoking weed. Yes I quit drinking but I gained a severe addiction to nytol – I take 40 pills on a good day every night or 30-ish on others, ratio 5 – 2 (5 good to 2 bad). I just started reading these reviews and I see I’m not the only one who is hooked on this. I loathe the feeling that I am so addicted to something or another. I bought Phenergan for a change as its annoying to be refused sale by all local pharmacies. I need to know some successful quitting methods or stories without Getting Additional or Different addictions.
Thank you for sharing your story. Well done for quitting alcohol and smoking weed. I can understand your worry about taking that many Nytol though – you are taking way more than necessary, and putting yourself at risk. I would recommend getting professional help from your doctor/physician. I think they are the best person to either help you directly or refer you to an addiction specialist.
I could not agree more with Ethan’s suggestion.
Maybe physical exercises will help as well as brainwork. Because those activities will burn out your energy during the day, and then help you to fall in sleep quickly in the evening.
It is what I do, I’d like to stay in bed longer to rest my body and make my brain busy by reading and studying when I have a day off.
Alternatively, do some housework or find some physical activities you like, sports, dance …
Overall, personally, medication like Nytol is merely for the symptoms, not for the primary cause. Additionally, most of the meds have its own side effect. It is a risk for the long term taking.
Started taking Nytol one a night 50 mg. The next day felt so sleepy all day, so the next night took half the tablet 25mg. Slept well but dreamt all night, so my mind was very active all night. The next day I felt so tired all day, so could I be allergic to the Valerian? I have now stopped taking them What do you advise?
Thanks for sharing. I don’t think that remembering your dreams more or being tired the next day are signs of an allergy personally. But I’d say that if your feeling is that it’s not right for you, then it’s probably a good idea to listen to it.
By taking nytol would my sleep get distracted if someone tries to wake me up or after having this tablet nothing would get me up
There’s no way to predict that. It depends on how much it affects you, how hard the person tries to wake you etc.
It’s works fatema m. D.
I take nytol most nights and when you wake again I find it hard to get back to sleep, but I make sure I got to bed the same time every night, take the nytol 20-30 mins before you go to sleep, the only thing I really experience is really strange dreams but I still do not wake from these, I had insomnia for the last 2 years and nytol helps me more than my prescribed sleeping tablets.
I don’t know why th the pack says take 20 minutes before bed, DHP is fat Soluble so it needs to be fully digested through the liver before you’d even begin to notice any effects, this can take around 2 hours.
I take 25 mg about 2-3 hours before bed, I sleep well and while I do feel a little groggy in the morning it’s better than if I were to take it right before bed.
Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure about the 2 hour point. I find it works much quicker than that – same as with other sleep aids with similar ingredients. But if that’s the timing that works for you, that’s all that matters really.
I should have said the effects peak at 2 hours, taking them minutes before bed greatly increases the morning after hangover.
Everyone’s metabolism is different however fat soluble medication do take longer to metabolise and also stick around longer, I think if you are experiencing a morning hangover from Nytol knowing this information helps.
Hi it’s been 3 days so far since I began taking the Boots own brand, and I must say that not only do they work, but I am waking up much earlier. For me the effect comes later and definitely after 2 hours. If one wants to sleep at midnight, take them at 10.30pm. One should work out when it’s best to take it to get knocked out for an 8 hr sleep.
Been taking 50mg dosage almost every night for the last 3 months due to inability to sleep, its a knock on effect of my spinal surgery. laying in bed is super uncomfortable but with nytol im able to get a proper nights sleep. literally saving my mental state! im on a number of other meds but it doesnt interact at all and i have 0 side effects. i count myself lucky!
Thanks for your comment. It’s good that you found something that helps your sleep – and mental state along with it.
I wish you a swift recovery from the surgery.
I feel the same.. Sleep is essential to well being. I believe in the here and now. I need to sleep.
As a shift worker I have trouble sleeping after a week of nights, but I find the nytol one-a-night really does help me get of to sleep and stay asleep. I know it’s not advised but I find having it with a glass of whiskey really helps improve my overall sleep.
Thanks for your comment. Yes, you need to be careful mixing any sleep aids with alcohol. I know it increases the drowsiness, but it also increases the risk. I’d do one or the other, but not both together.
Hi I’ve recently purchased a pack of Nytol one a night 50 …after reading the box it says do not take if you have an obstruction in the stomach … so thought I should not take one as I have an hernia…would this be wrong to take in my position….thank you
Thanks for your comment. I’m not a doctor, so can’t advise you on this one – sorry! I’d recommend asking your personal doctor about this to get proper medical advice.
Been using these on and off; work brilliantly for me, didn’t want to keep on with prescription sleeping tablets so I’m glad I’ve tried these
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Because i came off morphine after being on them for approx 2 months i have not been able to sleep…the morphine was making me sleep 16 to 18 hrs a day..before the morphine my sleep was pretty good .After seeing Nytol advertised on tv this last week i decided to give them a go as i had 3 nights with little sleep..my hubby got me the 25mg ones which states take two 20mins before bed but because i have sensitivity problems with a lot of medications i only took 1 at 10.30pm by 11.20 i was wide awake so i thought becaue it states take 2 i would take the other one within an hour i had restless legs + then my arms were like my legs + every half hour i had to go to the loo i did drop off to sleep about 6am + woke at 10.30am still with the restless +tickly feeling in my arms + legs, it is now 5.30 in the evening + my arms + legs are still the same Driving me crazy,How long will it take for them to stop tingling + get back to normal
Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’ve had this reaction to the Nytol, assuming it was the cause of the physical sensations you describe. To be honest, I really don’t know how long it might last, or if it’s definitely connected. I think the best step is to speak to your doctor about it, and not take any more unless they recommend it.
Hi. I started taking the DHP version of Nytol after consistent sleep problems and seemed to work an hour after taking it. I then took them every night for two months, puzzled by the occasional pharmacist raised eyebrow and the unusual headache every morning which lasted for an hour after waking. I now realise that I shouldn’t have taken them for such an extended period – one night without left me awake all night with an alarming headache which I’m attributing to withdrawal symptoms. So it’s back to the drawing board for me – any other suggestions would be welcome. Good luck getting to sleep everyone.
Didn’t work whatsoever – woke up even more times during the night
Thanks for sharing your experience. These over the counter sleeping pills don’t work for everyone, but I hope you find something that does help you sleep.