Hydroxyzine for Sleep: Can it be used to help you sleep?

Hydroxyzine is commonly sold under the brand names of Visatril and the now-discontinued Atarax. Hydroxyzine is actually the 78th most prescribed drug in the United States. Considering how prevalent it is, it’s rather concerning how little people actually know about this drug. Things become even more concerning due to the fact that this drug is actually being used to help aid with sleep. 

For the purpose of harm reduction, it’s important that we take the time to learn more about commonly used drugs. This is why we thought it would be useful to have a succinct discussion about Hydroxyzine and what you need to know before using it for sleep. If this is something that you want to know about, read on for some useful information about hydroxyzine. 

Can Hydroxyzine Help You Sleep?

Due to its sedative properties, hydroxyzine is also used for a slew of other conditions. It’s popularly used to treat sleeping disorders as antihistamines tend to make people sleepy. What’s great about this drug is that it doesn’t come with the downsides of substances like clonazepam. While clonazepam (and other drugs like it) can be used to treat sleeping disorders, they are often also habit-forming which can bring a slew of different problems to the users. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that there are no downsides to using this drug to aid with sleep. Aside from the side effects (which will be discussed further later on) there have yet to be any clinical studies tackling the effects of long-term use of hydroxyzine for sleep and GAD. You also have to be careful with the dosage of it, as taking too much will have dire consequences.

Hydroxyzine is incredibly effective for treating sleeping disorders and insomnia. What’s great about this drug is that it is fast-acting. In fact, its sleep-inducing effects can take effect in as few as 15 to 30 minutes. Be aware that this will differ on a person-to-person basis. Under no circumstances should you take more hydroxyzine than what was prescribed. If you feel like the drug isn’t working, do know that there have been cases wherein the drug only takes effect after an hour or two. For cases like this, it might be wise to take the drug earlier instead of attempting to take more of it.

When it comes to the dosage, adults will have to take around 25 mg to 100 mg. This will all depend on your doctor’s instructions. If you feel like your dosage has to be adjusted, be sure to speak with your doctor about it. It’s crucial that you only take hydroxyzine as prescribed to avoid any major side effects.

What Is Hydroxyzine?

Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine drug that possesses drying and sedative properties. While it is classified as an antihistamine, this drug also shares qualities with antiemetic and anxiolytics. Unlike many antihistamines, hydroxyzine cannot be acquired over-the-counter as it is a prescription medication. It’s often listed as hydroxyzine hydrochloride or hydroxyzine pamoate.

As an antihistamine, hydroxyzine reduces the effects of the natural chemical histamine in your body. Like other antihistamines also reduces the activity in your central nervous system. This results in a sedative effect, which has led to other medical uses for this drug. In fact, hydroxyzine has been used to treat chronic insomnia. This may sound strange to you but its sedative properties make people drowsy and promote sleep.

What Is Hydroxyzine Used For?

As we’ve just mentioned above, hydroxyzine is an antihistamine. This means that it is commonly used for treating allergies. When you’re having an allergic reaction mast cells release histamine in your body in order to trigger allergy symptoms. This leads to itching and other common effects associated with allergies. Hydroxyzine stops this by suppressing the histamine.

Hydroxyzine has also found success in treating anxiety. However, it has to be stated that researchers don’t exactly know why this drug can be used to help with the effects and symptoms of anxiety. With that being said, they have observed that hydroxyzine can affect the serotonin in one’s body. It’s also important to note that there are different types of anxiety disorders and it is mostly used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This is especially true for people with GAD that are suffering from extreme insomnia.

hydroxyzine dose for sleep

Can You Get Addicted to Hydroxyzine?

As we’ve already stated above, hydroxyzine isn’t habit-forming like drugs such as clonazepam. However, due to their anti-anxiety and sedative properties, they are commonly misused. Repeatedly misusing this drug could cause users to be dependent on it. And while this is different from physical addiction, being dependent on this drug can be likened to a psychological addiction.

Hydroxyzine abuse is a serious subject as at least 166,000 people have been reported to misuse this drug in a single year. Couple this with the fact that millions of prescriptions of the drug are written annually and you could have a potential problem on your hands. If you or someone you know is misusing hydroxyzine be sure to seek out an addiction center so you can get the help that you need.

What Are the Side Effects of Hydroxyzine?

Even when used correctly, hydroxyzine can cause some pretty unpleasant effects. Side effects vary but the most common ones are fatigue, nausea, and dry mouth. These side effects become even more apparent when the drug is misused. There are also cases where users of this drug have experienced chest pains, hallucinations, severe grogginess, and over-sedation.

This is why we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to take this drug correctly. Aside from taking the right dosage, you’ll also want to refrain from taking other sleep-inducing substances alongside hydroxyzine. To best avoid any complications, be sure to inform your doctor of any medication that you are currently taking when you are prescribed hydroxyzine.

If you’re planning on becoming pregnant then you should inform your doctor. It should not be used in the first trimester of pregnancy as it increases the risk of birth defects. It should also not be used prior to labor as it can be potentially hazardous to the baby and increases the seizure risk in infants.  

The bottom line here is to only use this drug as prescribed and to be as communicative as possible with your doctor regarding your medical condition and other medications you are taking. If you do this, then you should have little to no problems with hydroxyzine.


We hope this article has helped shed some light on hydroxyzine. While it is a useful drug that can be used to help people with everything from anxiety to allergies, it’s also a drug that has to be used carefully. We implore you to only take this drug as prescribed by your doctor. If you feel that it isn’t working or if you are experiencing negative side effects then it would be best to speak with a professional so you can make a more informed decision regarding this drug.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4956432/