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Does NyQuil put you to sleep?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Feb 10, 2022.

Official answer


Key Points

  • NyQuil can cause you to feel very drowsy or sleepy and you may fall asleep after taking it. Be careful when driving or operating machinery if you have taken this product.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages with NyQuil. Alcohol, sedatives and tranquilizers can increase drowsiness when used with NyQuil. Check with your doctor or pharmacist first before using NyQuil with these products.
  • NyQuil is an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine used to treat symptoms of the common cold and flu, like sneezing, sore throat, headache, minor aches and pains, fever, runny nose, and cough.

Related: NyQuil Uses, Dose and Side effects

How long does NyQuil take to make you sleep?

Most people will feel the effects of NyQuil, including drowsiness, within 30 minutes, but how it affects you may be different.

After taking NyQuil, avoid driving, operating machinery, or other potentially dangerous activities until the effects of the medicine have worn off.

What's in NyQuil that makes you sleep?

The main ingredients in NyQuil Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid that may cause drowsiness or sleep are doxylamine, a sedating antihistamine, and dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant. The other active ingredient in NyQuil Liquid is acetaminophen, a pain and fever reducer), but it is not usually associated with drowsiness.

This specific NyQuil product also contains 10% alcohol, an ingredient used to help dissolve the medicines in the liquid. Other NyQuil products may also contain phenylephrine, a decongestant.

Is it bad to take NyQuil to sleep?

You should only use NyQuil as directed on the label. NyQuil is used to treat the symptoms of the cold and flu and not as a sleeping agent for insomnia. However, it can help you feel better if you have a cold or flu because it can treat your symptoms which will help you rest easier.

If you are having trouble sleeping, contact your doctor who can help evaluate your symptoms and determine the cause for your insomnia. If medicine is needed, your doctor may be able to prescribe short-term agents to help you sleep better, or recommend an over-the-counter medication.

You should evaluate your sleep hygiene, as well. For example, are there activities, foods or drinks that may be contributing to your insomnia?

  • Caffeine found in tea, coffee, colas and chocolate may keep you up if you consume these later in the day.
  • Use of electronic devices, like the TV, phone or other devices may emit blue light and block melatonin, which can make it difficult for you to fall or stay asleep.
  • Adequate daily exercise (at least 30 minutes most days of the week) can also help with your sleep.
  • Settling down at night with a warm cup of milk or taking a soothing bath can help to ease you to sleep.

This is not all the information you need to know about NyQuil for safe and effective use and does not take the place of the directions on the label. Review the full product information, and discuss any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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