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Melatonin vs Zzzquil: Which Sleep Aid Is Best for You

When deciding between melatonin, Zzzquil, or Tylenol PM to help you fall asleep, it’s important to understand that melatonin is categorically different from Zzzquil and Tylenol PM. Melatonin is produced naturally by your body, whereas Zzzquil and Tylenol PM are drugs. As such, they behave very differently from melatonin.

In this article, we’ll do a comparison of melatonin vs Zzzquil as well as melatonin vs Tylenol PM. We’ll explain how each of them works and who they’re best for.

Note: Check out melatonin vapes if you need melatonin that works quickly. When you vape melatonin it goes directly into your bloodstream, and can work in 5 minutes or less.

Melatonin vs Zzzquil vs Tylenol PM

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Before we go into more detail about each of these sleep aids, let’s first do a general overview. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in your brain that regulates your circadian rhythm (body clock). It gets released in the evening to prepare your body for sleep.

Melatonin supplements mimic this naturally occurring process by introducing more melatonin to your body. The effects of the hormone melatonin are subtle, but melatonin supplements can be effective sleep aids.

By contrast, Zzzquil and Tylenol PM are both drugs. In fact, they contain the same drug to induce drowsiness: diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. This is the same active ingredient that’s in the anti-allergy drug Benadryl as well as Dramamine (which is taken to prevent or treat motion sickness).

Diphenhydramine causes marked drowsiness. It’s not as strong as prescription sleep medications, but it will most likely make you feel sleepy. Unlike drugs containing diphenhydramine, melatonin supplements don’t tend to cause such a noticeable feeling of sleepiness.

But even if melatonin doesn’t cause the same feelings as stronger sleep medicine or prescription sleep aids, it can still help induce sleep. While the effects are considered mild, melatonin supplements are well-established sleep aids. Read on to learn how melatonin supplements can help you sleep.

When to Take Melatonin Supplements

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Considerable scientific evidence suggests melatonin is a mild but effective sleep aid. A meta-analysis from PLOS One, which examined 19 randomized, controlled trials, found melatonin could help people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get better quality sleep when compared to a placebo.

Melatonin Can Treat Jet Lag

Because melatonin regulates your circadian rhythm, it’s especially helpful to take as a supplement whenever your sleep schedule changes. For instance, when your sleep schedule is disrupted from jet lag or daylight savings time changes, melatonin supplements can help you adjust to your new sleep schedule without losing sleep.

Melatonin Can Also Treat Chronic Insomnia

But you don’t have to have jet lag to take melatonin. The above meta-analysis from PLOS One included studies that tested the effects of melatonin in those with primary sleep disorders, including chronic insomnia. Another systematic review from a German journal, Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, found melatonin could help elderly patients with insomnia.

In other words, melatonin is an effective treatment for chronic insomnia. And it’s actually safer than most drugs, because it won’t cause addiction or dependency and has relatively few side effects, which tend to be mild.

If you’re dealing with insomnia for any reason, especially if it’s related to changes in your sleep schedule, it’s a good idea to try melatonin first before trying stronger sleep medicine like OTC sleep aids or prescription drugs. As a general rule, you’ll want to start with a low dose before trying higher doses, because higher doses may not be necessary.

How Much Melatonin to Take

For instance, a controlled trial from The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research found melatonin doses of 0.5 mg were almost as effective as doses of 5 mg for the purposes of treating jet lag.

While older adults tend to produce less melatonin, the ideal dose of melatonin in older adults is only slightly higher. A review from The Senior Care Pharmacist tested doses of melatonin between 0.5 mg and 10 mg in older adults, and this review found the ideal dose to be somewhere between 1 mg and 6 mg for older adults.

So start small, and increase your dose only if necessary, keeping in mind too much melatonin may have the opposite effect. Make sure to practice good sleep hygiene as well: Avoid bright lights in the evening, as these can interfere with melatonin.

When to Take Zzzquil

A Zzzquil Nightime Sleep Aid in 12 liquicaps box.

Classic Zzzquil contains diphenhydramine, an antihistamine known to have a sedative effect. It’s available both in liquid and capsule form. A study from The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found diphenhydramine to be an effective sleep aid for those dealing with mild to moderate insomnia, and the effects are generally stronger than those of melatonin.

However, the authors note that the patients taking diphenhydramine for sleep did notice some side effects. A book from StatPearls includes a long list of potential side effects of this medication, the most common of which include dizziness, dry mouth, impaired coordination, stomach pain, and blurred vision, though there are many other less common side effects.

Zzzquil Has Potential for Abuse but Is Generally Safe

And though Zzzquil claims the drug is non-habit forming, some evidence suggests it has potential for abuse. A case report from Neurology: Clinical Practice describes the dangerous effects of chronic diphenhydramine abuse.

Worse still, since symptoms of overdose of this drug resemble symptoms of many other conditions — including central anticholinergic syndrome, serotonin syndrome, and others — the authors note there may be more cases than we realize.

That said, diphenhydramine is a relatively safe drug. It’s much safer than prescription drugs like Ativan or Trazodone, which are sometimes used for their sedative effects but are much more likely to cause unpleasant side effects or depency. But because it’s used in so many over-the-counter drugs, it’s important to use it with caution and check for drug interactions.

Zzzquil Comes in a Variety of Forms

The original and most popular version of Zzzquil just contains diphenhydramine, but the company now sells a variety of other products, including Zzzquil Ultra, which contains doxylamine succinate. Doxylamine is another antihistamine with a strong sedative effect, and like diphenhydramine, it should be used with caution.

Additionally, Zzzquil offers a variety of drug-free sleep supplements, including melatonin gummies and pills containing herbal ingredients to support sleep, such as valerian root and passionflower. These supplements are generally safer to take than drugs, but as we’ll see later on, pills and gummies are actually the least effective way to consume them.

So, when should you take Zzzquil? As long as it’s used correctly, Zzzquil works well as a sleep aid for mild to moderate insomnia for most people, but you may experience some side effects. If you want to avoid the side effects or simply prefer not to take a drug when a natural supplement will do, you can try one of the drug-free supplements from Zzzquil.

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When to Take Tylenol PM

A box of Tylenol PM Extra Strength in 100 caplets.

Tylenol PM is a combination of two drugs: acetaminophen (the active ingredient in classic Tylenol) and diphenhydramine. As we’ve just looked at diphenhydramine in detail, we’ll focus more on acetaminophen in this section, and what happens when you take these two drugs together.

Acetaminophen Is the Most Popular Painkiller Worldwide

According to a review from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, acetaminophen is the most widely-used over-the-counter painkiller in the world. While it is generally considered safe and well-tolerated when used correctly, it can be abused like any other drug. As the authors explain, abuse of acetaminophen is a common cause of liver injury in high-income countries.

But liver injury from acetaminophen is still very rare. As Healthline explains, most people won’t experience any side effects from acetaminophen. It does have the potential to cause severe liver damage, but this generally only happens when it’s overused if the person already has some type of liver damage, or if they use it with alcohol or are habitual alcohol drinkers. Those with liver damage may want to choose a different painkiller.

Acetaminophen Allergies Exist (But Are Rare)

Acetaminophen can also cause an allergic reaction in some people, but this is also very rare. The symptoms of allergic reaction to acetaminophen are the same as any type of allergic reaction: hives, severe itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, etc. Anyone who has this reaction to acetaminophen should seek medical attention right away.

For those who are not allergic to acetaminophen and don’t have any liver problems, acetaminophen can be a very effective painkiller. It is also commonly used as a fever reducer. Unlike other painkillers, it’s not considered an NSAID (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug), so it won’t reduce inflammation, but it works well for treating acute pain and fevers.

Acetaminophen and Diphenhydramine Don’t Interact

So how does acetaminophen work alongside diphenhydramine? There are no interactions between these two drugs, so as long as both drugs are well-tolerated in a given person, there’s no issue with taking them together in the form of Tylenol PM.

It’s best to use Tylenol PM when you’re dealing with a combination of acute pain or fever on top of insomnia. If your only issue is insomnia, you’re better off just taking diphenhydramine (or another sleep aid), since there’s no need to take a painkiller when you’re not in pain.

You can also find many generic versions of Tylenol PM, often simply called “acetaminophen PM,” that are less expensive than Tylenol PM. They contain exactly the same ingredients for a fraction of the cost. Just make sure you check to see how many pills are in one dose, since this can vary from brand to brand, and you won’t want to exceed the maximum dose.

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How These Sleep Aids Compare to Others

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In addition to melatonin, there are many other natural sleep aids that don’t contain any drugs. For instance, we already saw that Zzzquil offers a variety of drug-free sleep support supplements that contain various herbal remedies. Many other companies sell various combinations of herbal supplements for sleep as well. In general, these supplements are safer than drugs and pose very little risk of toxic overdose or dependency. However, they often are active substances that may interact with other prescription medicines. But which sleep aid is the most effective?

How You Take Your Sleep Aid Matters

It turns out that how you take the supplement matters almost as much as the supplement itself. While most companies sell sleep aids as pills or gummies, this is actually the least effective way to consume them.

This is because pills and gummies need to be broken down by the stomach, which can take upwards of half an hour. It may take longer than that to feel the effects, at which point some of the supplement will have been wasted. In fact, Medicare Europe estimates that the body absorbs only 39% to 53% of the contents of pills, on average.

Note: Liquid Supplements Are More Effective Than Pills

Of course, the vast majority of drugs are only available in pill form — but when it comes to supplements, you often have a choice. Medicare Europe suggests liquid supplements are absorbed much more quickly and effectively than pills, with an average of 98% bioavailability.

For this reason, whenever you have a choice between a liquid supplement vs pills or gummies, we strongly recommend going with the liquid. And we’re proud to tell you that we make one of the most effective liquid melatonin supplements on the market!

Our liquid melatonin supplement, MELO Sip, has 4.3 mg of melatonin in addition to chamomile extract, valerian root extract, l-theanine, GABA, and sleep-promoting vitamins and minerals. It comes in four awesome flavors and is sweetened only with monk fruit extract. If you’re looking for an all-natural, drug-free sleep aid that actually works, this is one of the best you’ll find.

There are many other companies that make liquid sleep supplements, but most of these come in tincture form. It can be hard to get the right dose using a tincture, and the liquids are often bitter. MELO Sip comes in powdered form: Simply add one packet to a glass of water (any amount you’d like), stir, and drink. It tastes much better than most tinctures.

The Best Melatonin Supplements for Sleep

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To summarize, melatonin is a safer choice to treat insomnia than Zzzquil or Tylenol PM. If your insomnia is more moderate, you may want to try Zzzquil, and if you’re also dealing with acute pain or fever, then you may want to try Tylenol PM, but be careful to follow the directions and avoid overusing these drugs.

In general, melatonin will most likely be able to treat most forms of insomnia. You can also try taking melatonin alongside other natural sleep aids, in an effective, all-in-one package like MELO Sip. But if you want the fastest-acting melatonin on the market, you may be interested in trying MELO Air, our melatonin vaporizer.

We’ve made MELO Air as safe as possible. It contains just three ingredients: melatonin, organic vegetable glycerin, and natural flavors. That’s it! No vitamin E acetate, and no propylene glycol (unlike other melatonin vaporizers). And of course, it has zero nicotine, THC, or drugs of any kind.

As you’ll notice from reading the reviews, most people are amazed with how quickly and effectively this supplement works. A 1.3-mg dose is ten puffs, but most people don’t even need that much. Many report that just two or three puffs are sufficient, i.e. less than 0.5 mg. This is great news for those who want to take as small a dose as possible!

So give one or both of our melatonin supplements a try if you’d like to try melatonin supplements that actually work.

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