Hydroxyzine for treating insomnia – effectiveness and its side effects

Adequate sleep is essential to the proper functioning of the body and for physical and psychological health. Insomnia or difficulty to fall and stay asleep is a common clinical issue and can cause impairments in many aspects of interpersonal difficulties, quality of life, substance abuse, cognition, the risk of psychiatric disease, work-related problems, and accident proneness.

An approximate of one-third of people suffer from chronic insomnia at some point in their lives and this condition requires immediate medical evaluation. Not only does insomnia cause impairments in daily life but also cause daytime drowsiness. A suitable drug which your doctor may prescribe you with, depending on your condition, is hydroxyzine.

Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine and it is approved for the treatment of anxiety and stress-related issues including chronic insomnia. It is also used to treat itching caused by allergies and nausea. Hydroxyzine is found to be effective, well tolerated, and has fewer side effects than other commonly used hypnotics.

How does hydroxyzine work to treat sleeplessness?

Hydroxyzine is a selective antihistamine which leads to the sleep-promoting benefits of H1-receptor blockade without significant alpha-1 adrenergic antagonism or anticholinergic side effects.

Hydroxyzine is not a controlled substance and does not lead to the risk of addiction and it has a potential advantage over other on patent drugs used to treat anxiety. Hydroxyzine becomes effective within hours of the first dose consumption and symptoms of anxiety or insomnia may start improving.

Hydroxyzine and pregnancy

If you are planning to conceive, it will be important to notify your healthcare provider, to best manage your medications. It is an important decision on hydroxyzine consumption for women who plan on becoming pregnant and suffer from insomnia.

Studies conducted on mice and rats showed that hydroxyzine imposed a high risk of birth defects. However, the risk to humans is unclear, so, women should not use hydroxyzine in the first trimester of pregnancy. It could be used in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy but nowhere near or during labor. Use of hydroxyzine during labor may increase the risk of seizures in infants, decreased fetal heart rate, and increase side effects when combined with narcotics.

It is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers to be using hydroxyzine as it does pass into the breast milk. Infants who have received other antihistamines have experienced drowsiness, irritability, or unusual excitement. Hydroxyzine may also be responsible for lower milk production in the mother.

Side effects of hydroxyzine

Some of the common side effects of hydroxyzine include dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth, urinary retention, blurred vision, confusion, irritability, and headaches. Very rarely have people reported of serious side effects such as allergic reaction including difficulty in breathing; hives; swelling of lips, tongue or face, increased heart rate, unsafe heartbeat, confusion, and hallucinations.

Another disadvantage to hydroxyzine is its comparatively long half-life of 20 hours which can lead to daytime sedation after nighttime dosing.

It is important to remember that your doctor has put you on hydroxyzine judging its benefits to you will be greater than its side effects.  In case you suspect any of the above symptoms or are suffering from any of the serious ones, tell your doctor about them right away and seek medical help immediately.

Use of hydroxyzine for sleep has no known problems associated if used for a longer period of time. It is a safe and effective medication when used as prescribed by your physician to improve your sleep patterns significantly for a better quality of life.


Michelle M

Conducting research in a laboratory can often feel isolated so Lisa prefers writing about scientific research in healthcare. She contributes stories about the latest research in all fields related to health. Email: lisa@askhealthnews.com

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