Tylenol pm lasts how long

Almost one-third of older people in the U.S. take sleeping pills. These drugs are called “sedative- hypnotics” or “tranquilizers.” They affect the brain and spinal cord.

Doctors prescribe the drugs for sleep problems. The drugs are also used to treat other conditions, such as anxiety or alcohol withdrawal.

Usually older adults should try nondrug treatments first. According to the American Geriatrics Society, there are safer and better ways to improve sleep or reduce anxiety. Here’s why:


Sleeping pills may not help much.

Many ads say that sleeping pills help people get a full, restful night’s sleep. But studies show that this is not exactly true in real life. On average, people who take one of these drugs sleep only a little longer and better than those who don’t take a drug.

Sleeping pills can have serious, or even deadly side effects.

All sedative-hypnotic drugs have special risks for older adults. Seniors are likely to be more sensitive to the drugs’ effects than younger adults.

And these drugs may stay in their bodies longer.

The drugs can cause confusion and memory problems that:

  • More than double the risk of falls and hip fractures. These are common causes of hospitalization and death in older people.
  • Increase the risk of car accidents.

The new “Z” drugs also have risks.

Most ads are for these new drugs. At first, they were thought to be safer. But recent studies suggest they have as much or more risk than the older sleep drugs.

Try treating without medicines first.

Get a thorough medical exam. Sleep problems can be caused by depression or anxiety, pain, restless leg syndrome, and many other conditions. Even if an exam does not turn up an underlying cause, you should try other solutions before you try drugs.

Kinds of sleeping pills

All of these pills have risks, especially for older adults:


  • Secobarbital (Seconal and generic)
  • Phenobarbital (Luminal and generic)

For anxiety:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax and generic)
  • Diazepam (Valium and generic)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan and generic)

For insomnia:

  • Estazolam (generic only)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane and generic)
  • Quazepam (Doral)
  • Temazepam (Restoril and generic)
  • Triazolam (Halcion and generic)

”Z” drugs

  • Zolpidem (Ambien and generic)
  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata and generic)

Over-the-counter drugs may not be a good choice.

Side effects of some drugs can be especially bothersome for seniors: next-day drowsiness, confusion, constipation, dry mouth, and difficulty urinating. Avoid these over-the-counter sleep drugs:

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy, Nytol, Sominex, and generic)
  • Doxylamine (Unisom and generic)
  • Advil PM (combination of ibuprofen and diphenhydramine)
  • Tylenol PM (combination of acetaminophen and diphenhydramine)

When to try sleeping pills.

Consider these drugs if the sleep problems are affecting your quality of life and nothing else has helped. But your health-care provider should watch you carefully to make sure that the drug is helping and not causing bad side effects.

This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.

© 2017 Consumer Reports. Developed in cooperation with the American Geriatric Society.

Get The Facts on Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids

An insider’s guide to sleep aids

Does this sound familiar? You exercise regularly, avoid caffeine, and ease into bed with a soothing shower and a good book, yet you still spend half the night counting sheep. If that sounds like a regular bedtime routine for you, chances are you’ve considered taking an over-the-counter sleep aid. But before you browse the pharmacy aisles, get the lowdown on which over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid does what (and which you should skip) with this guide.

Melatonin: Your sleep/wake cycle is partly controlled by a hormone called melatonin, which is available in supplement form. Taking melatonin may help you fall asleep and can be used to recover from jet lag. This OTC sleep aid works for many, but side effects can include feeling dizzy, sleepy, and headache-y during the following day.

Benadryl: This popular OTC allergy and anti-itch medication is also frequently taken to help with sleep. That’s because it and other antihistamines have a sedating effect. While Benadryl may help you nod off, it could also cause memory problems, dry mouth, and even lead to sleep walking. And many people develop a tolerance to the drug, meaning that you’ll likely lose the sleep-inducing side effect if you use it too often.

Tylenol PM: This pain-reliever contains acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), as well as an antihistamine, so it will give you the same drowsy effect of Benadryl. However, high doses of acetaminophen can lead to liver problems, especially if taken with alcohol. And since acetaminophen is also found in cold and flu medications and headache drugs, it can be easier than you may think to overdose. If you don’t have pain, skip this sleep aid in favor of something without acetaminophen.

ZZZquil or Tylenol’s Simply Sleep: These are antihistamine-based drugs that may help you nod off. Unlike Tylenol PM, these medications don’t contain acetaminophen, making them safer to use.

Valerian: This plant-based supplement has been used to ease insomnia for centuries, but scientists still aren’t sure exactly how it works (the thinking is that it may increase the amount of a certain chemical in the brain that has a calming effect on anxiety). While there’s no definitive proof that it works, valerian may help you fall asleep fast, as well as improve the quality of your slumber.

Remember, just because a medication is available over-the-counter doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily safe to take—especially in excess amounts or for long durations of time. Generally, you should avoid using OTC sleep aids for longer than two weeks, and if possible, it’s best to get your doctor’s approval before you start, as some of them may interact dangerously with other drugs you’re taking.

Over the Counter Sleep Aids

Over the counter sleep aids are big business. In the U.S. alone, sleep-deprived people spend more than $100 million annually on non-prescription sleep medication.

Research shows that more than 10 percent of adults have used an over the counter (OTC) sleep aid during the last 12 months.

Non-prescription sleep medicine and retail-purchased natural sleep aids can serve as a short-term ‘fix’ for the occasional bout of sleeplessness. Yet, these readily available sleep aids are not an ideal choice for people suffering from chronic insomnia.

Your body builds up tolerance to OTC sleep medication fairly quickly, rendering them ineffective over a short amount of time. Increasing the medication dosage can be dangerous, as it increases the chances of unpleasant and unsafe side effects.

Your body builds up tolerance to OTC sleep medication fairly quickly, rendering them ineffective over a short amount of time. Increasing the medication dosage can be dangerous, as it increases the chances of unpleasant and unsafe side effects.

How Over the Counter Sleep Aids Work

The active ingredient in retail-purchases sleep medication is usually an antihistamine, such as:

  • Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride (found in Tylenol PM, Sominex and Compoz)
  • Diphenhydramine Citrate (found in Excedrin PM)
  • Doxylamine (found in Unisom, Nighttime)

Antihistamines are designed to treat allergic reactions by blocking the brain chemical histamine and suppressing the nervous system.

The side effect of these actions is that you feel drowsy (think of what happens when you take Benadryl). Although they’re generally not as effective as prescription sleep aids, an over the counter sleep aid can help you get some much-needed rest if you used occasionally and correctly.

If you’re lying awake at night because you’re suffering from a a heavy cold or flu, or pain from an injury or minor illness, medication such as Tylenol PM or Excedrin PM may help. These drugs contain a painkiller, as well an antihistamine.

Here are a few things you should know about OTC sleeping pills:

  • Just because you can find sleep aids at the local store without a prescription, doesn’t mean that they’re completely safe.
  • A store’s own brand of sleep aid that contains the same type and amount of active ingredients and as a brand-name drug typically be equally effective and cheaper.
  • Non-prescription sleep aids may produce more side effects than many prescription sleep medications
  • OTC medicine can interact with other medication (and natural or herbal products) that you are taking.
  • Non-prescription products can be addictive and your body will likely build up a tolerance to them quickly. When you stop taking the drugs, you may experience drug withdrawal symptoms after long-term use.
  • Although in general OTC sleep aids will make you drowsy, for some people they can have the opposite effect causing nervousness, jitters, and anxiety.

Side Effects of OTC Sleep Aids

A variety of side effects are common, and everyone reacts differently. Some people may experience one, or several, of the following symptoms.

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dry mouth/nasal passages
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • “Grogginess” the next morning (sometimes extending throughout the day)

As mentioned earlier, these medications may also produce the opposite effect of making you jittery and keeping you up at night.

If you decide to take a over the counter sleep aids, be extra careful about driving (or undertaking any task that needs your full concentration and quick reflexes) the next day.

The grogginess that some people experience can last a while. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry until you know how the medications affects you.

Some people who frequently use sleep aids may grow dependent on them. In fact, in recent years many addiction rehab programs have seen an increase in people seeking treatment for sleep aid dependency.

Most doctors suggest a maximum of four weeks for prescription medications to prevent long-term dependency and addiction.

Some people seem to be more susceptible to the side effects of OTC sleep aids than others. Older adults may experience more severe problems, as they metabolize this type of medication more quickly than others.

Moreover, sleep aids containing Diphenhydramine Citrate are more quickly absorbed by the body than others, so you may need less to make you sleepy.

Using Non-Prescription Sleep Medication Safely

The compounds in any over the counter sleep aid can interact with other medications, causing severe and/or dangerous side effects. For that reason, it’s important to always talk with your doctor before taking over the counter products concurrently with other medications.

This is especially important if you are taking an MAOI or other drug to treat depression, psychiatric or emotional disorders

In addition, if you have any of the following conditions, don’t use OTC sleep aids without consulting your doctor.

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Glaucoma
  • Parkinsons Disease
  • Heart problems (including arrhythmia’s or angina)
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding

Also, you should never drink alcoholic beverages when you are using a prescription or over the counter sleep aid.

Here are additional safety concerns.

  • Take only the minimum recommended dose (as given on the packaging or recommended by your doctor)
  • Do not exceed the maximum recommended dosage
  • Don’t use an OTC sleep aid for more than seven consecutive days without approval of your doctor
  • Don’t mix sleep aids, either prescription or OTC, with other drugs, medications or alcohol (as mentioned previously).
  • Stop taking your medication if it causes unpleasant or recurring side effects – or interferes with your daily activities.

If you are interested in learning about the benefits of using natural sleep aids, .

Beyond Medication:
An Added Note to Help Address Sleep Challenges
Before considering any type of medication to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, remember that your sleep environment plays a role in your ability to achieve healthy rest. Your mattress, bedding, window covering, air quality and room temperature all contribute to your ability to sleep better and wake up refreshed.

To learn about creating a sleep environment that is conducive to quality rest, click here on the links below:

  • Creating a good sleep environment
  • Evaluating your mattress

Related – Over the Counter Sleep Aids

What is Insomnia?
Insomnia Medications
Melatonin and Sleep
Natural Sleep Aids
Natural Cures for Insomnia
Sleep Hygiene
Sleep Disorders

Better Sleep Better Life HOME › Over the Counter Sleep Aids

Copyright 2008-2020 by Sowder Group LLC. Content and images may NOT be reproduced. Better-Sleep-Better-Life.com is for informational purposes and does not serve as medical/health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The site publisher/owner is not liable for your use of site information. Always consult your physician for all sleep and health concerns.

Published by Jules Sowder

This Common Painkiller Does Some Interesting Things To Your Mind

Millions of people frequently take acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. By one account, 23 percent of American adults—that’s more than 50 million people— take it every week. It’s also the most commonly used children’s medicine for relieving pain and reducing fever.

As an over-the-counter pain reliever, it’s fairly effective at treating pain. But in 2010, a study came out that showing that this medicine-cabinet staple could be influencing us in other ways, too: Acetaminophen was not only able to blunt physical pain, but social pain and rejection too. “Feeling the Pain of Rejection? Try Taking a Tylenol,” suggested Scientific American. “Can Tylenol heal a broken heart?” asked a New York Times Modern Love column.

Since that 2010 paper, a small body of work has continued to accumulate on acetaminophen’s—and potentially other OTC painkillers’—subtle effects on our psychological and cognitive states. In a review paper from last month, Kyle Ratner, an experimental social psychologist at UC Santa Barbara, collected these scattered findings in one place, including some of his own ongoing research into acetaminophen’s effects. In his review, Ratner shows that the ongoing research in this area has expanded beyond just the dulling of social rejection to findings that acetaminophen can change our responses to reminders of our death, the intensity of our mind wandering, or how much we value our possessions.

I asked Ratner: By what means might Tylenol be influencing us in these ways? It’s not totally clear, he says, but it may be due to shared spaces in the brain. There’s some imaging research that suggests that social and physical pain could have overlapping biological mechanisms, he tells me, so the parts of the brain that Tylenol affects to make your headache go away are the same parts that are involved in these other feelings as well; the same brain networks that allow us to feel and respond to physical pain may have been co-opted to also feel social pain.

For example, in the early 2000s, a study using fMRI found that the brain regions involved with physical pain also responded to the feeling of social exclusion. The circumstances were created in the lab by having a person play virtual ball toss with two digital people, until they stop throwing the ball to them. When researchers did this, they found that the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), a part of the brain also associated with physical pain, was active when the rejection took place.

This concept is what led to the 2010 paper. C. Nathan DeWall, a social psychologist at the University of Kentucky, and his colleagues gave people either acetaminophen or a placebo to take for three weeks. Each night the subjects reported if they had had any hurt feelings or positive emotions. On the ninth day of the study, the people taking the acetaminophen began to report fewer instances of hurt feelings, and did so until the end of the 21-day experiment. Their positive emotions weren’t affected, leading the researchers to think it was just social pain that was being influenced by the acetaminophen.

In a follow up, the authors doubled the acetaminophen dose for three weeks, and had participants play the virtual ball toss game. When they looked specifically at the dACC, they saw that people taking acetaminophen has less of a brain response in those regions than people taking a placebo.

Since 2010, Ratner says, other studies have shown that acetaminophen can influence more than just social pain. As a result, another theory has emerged that may better explain acetaminophen’s effect than a direct neural overlap of physical and social pain: Perhaps both pain and social pain are a form of “alarm signal,” he says, that tell the brain something is wrong, and acetaminophen is interrupting that alarm.

There is a lot of brain signaling going on when you feel pain, including in the somatosensory regions where you actually feel the physical sensation of pain. The dACC’s role is a little different, says Steve Heine, a cultural and social psychologist at the University of British Columbia. Heine studies how people make sense of anomalies. “The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex is the region of the brain that’s telling you, ‘You need to attend to this,’” he says.

The dACC responds to conflicts in our world, like seeing something that’s not supposed to be there, expecting one thing and getting another, incorrect information, and more. Pain can be thought of in this way: we expect and desire to not be in pain, so if it happens, it’s a discrepancy from our expected state, and it sets off an alarm that something is wrong. Psychological pain of any kind may be another kind of cognitive conflict, so Heine thinks that drugs like Tylenol might be more generally blunting our reactions to any conflict at all.

In 2013, Haine and collaborators gave subjects acetaminophen or a placebo, and then presented them with an extremely jarring conflict: the fact that we all are going to die someday. A social psychology theory called Terror Management says that when faced with their mortality, people become more committed to their thoughts and belief systems. But in Heine’s study, he found that people who had taken acetaminophen didn’t react in this way as strongly, when they were asked to write about their own deaths.

Another manipulation of existential anxiety, he tells me, is to show people visual stimuli that don’t make sense, or don’t meet conventional expectations— one way they do this by having subject watch David Lynch videos. People who had taken the acetaminophen also had a blunted response compared to those who took the placebo.

“Our interpretation is they didn’t feel the same degree of existential anxiety,” Heine says. “We found that really quite striking because those effects are very far removed from their target of physical pain.”

Heine then teamed up with Todd Handy, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of British Columbia, who is an expert in EEG, a way of measuring electrical signaling of the brain. In their next experiment, they wanted to see how people would respond to making mistakes on acetaminophen; if drugs like Tylenol were dulling a response to conflict, this could be another way to show it. Handy says that the dACC is typically where the response to making a mistake can be seen.

“It’s basically the brain’s basic ‘oh, shit’ response,” Handy tells me. “So we had this prediction that maybe Tylenol, if things are working the way we think it is, it should sort of attenuate this ‘oh, shit’ effect.”

What they found, along with first author Dan Randles, was that the acetaminophen didn’t dampen the effect—the brain still noticed it was making a mistake—but the signal associated with how much the brain cared that it made a mistake was lessened.

“It was sort of like, ‘Hey! I made a mistake, but who cares?’” Handy tells me. “To me this is all sort of consistent with this idea that our brain is always out there looking for anything surprising, anything that needs attention. Physical pain is just one thing that you’re constantly monitoring. Overall, you’re asking: Is there any problem that it needs to address? And Tylenol seems to be blunting that.”

Handy’s work is mostly centered on attention, and in the past ten years, he has studied mind wandering: that all too common feeling of when you’re talking to somebody, and then you start thinking about what you’re going to eat for dinner, or your date later tonight. Handy’s research asks how your brain is responding to its present surroundings when it has decided to wander somewhere else. He’s found, perhaps not surprisingly, that when the mind wanders, our sensory cortices are less sensitive to the outside world. “Our affective responses to the outside world drop off,” he says. “We’re less cognitively invested in stuff. So just across the board, everything tunes out.”

He felt like the effects of Tylenol they were seeing were similar to mind wandering. People cared less about social rejection. They didn’t respond as much to existential anxiety; a similar kind of sensitivity reduction to the outside world.

In a new study that hasn’t yet been published, they investigate how Tylenol would impact mind wandering. They subjected people to a repetitive, somewhat boring task—encouraging their minds to wander—and gave half the participants acetaminophen and the other half placebo. “What we found is that when you’re on Tylenol, when you’re still paying attention to the outside world, everything looks normal,” he tells me. “But when you start to mind-wander, the brain is even better at shutting stuff out. It gives you a deeper mind-wandering state, if you will.”

Ratner’s review includes other intriguing recent findings, like one that showed that acetaminophen reduced what’s called the “endowment effect,” or when people value an object just because they own it. Subjects were either told that a mug was theirs to keep or that it belonged to the lab. Then they were told to pick a price to sell the mug for. The participants who had been told the mug was theirs, who had taken acetaminophen, set a lower price for the mug than the placebo group.

In 2016, another group found that people who had taken 1,000 mg of acetaminophen might have less empathy for the pain of others. Subjects read different scenarios about people experiencing physical and social pain and reported how distressed they were while reading them. They also were exposed to a loud noise, and rated how unpleasant it was for them, and for another participant. Finally, they observed a game of the virtual ball toss, where a person they didn’t know was being excluded. All of these tasks revealed the same thing: The people who took acetaminophen were less empathic in response to the pain scenarios they read, they were less sensitive to the painful, loud noise, and they didn’t feel as much for the person being excluded from the ball game.

Ratner’s research focused on social groupings. After hearing that acetaminophen could blunt some emotional responses, he wondered if it could influence the types of biases that we have towards people who are like us, and those who aren’t like us.

In 2014, he divided subjects up into two groups in the lab, which can generate positive in-group and negative out-group feelings. He found that people’s in-group positivity effect was lessened when they had taken acetaminophen. But in other studies he’s done, he’s had confusing results. Using a task where people give out money to each other, he says he didn’t find that acetaminophen had any effect al all. When they’ve also tried to replicate their earlier findings with larger sample sizes, and added in ibuprofen to see its effects, their results moved in the opposite direction: acetaminophen and ibuprofen increased in-group positivity, rather than lessening it. He says they’re not sure why this happened.

Other studies have had weird findings too: a 2014 study that tried to see if ibuprofen could have a similar influence as acetaminophen found that its effects were different by gender. They had men and women play the virtual ball-catching game, and also write about a time they felt betrayed by someone close to them, and a time they felt physical pain.

The women who had taken ibuprofen reported less social pain than the ones who took the placebo, but it was the opposite for men. People are more likely to use first-person pronouns when they’re feeling emotional pain, and the women who took ibuprofen used less first-person pronouns than the placebo group. But again, the men showed the opposite. The researchers theorized that while the women became less sensitized to social pain, the ibuprofen interrupted something else in the men: their tendency to suppress emotional pain. With that dulled, they showed different, and at times opposing effects, as the women.

“My gut feeling right now is these drugs probably do influence our psychologies in really interesting ways that we might not anticipate,” Ratner says of his work and all the other research he compiled for his review. “But we’re just trying to make sense of it all.”

On a very basic level, this body of research is saying that acetaminophen and potentially other drugs seems able to affect more than just pure physical pain. But does this mean we need to start stamping Tylenol bottles with: “Warning! May make mind wandering more intense,” or “Attention! Don’t have a garage sale after taking if you want to get the best price”?

“I think we should absolutely have a scientific concern to recognize the neurocognitive and neuro-affective consequences of substances that we’ve heretofore thought of as benign,” Handy says. But still, all the researchers that I spoke to think it’s too premature to enact any widespread policy changes, or to strip drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen of their over-the-counter status. And they also don’t want to worry people about the magnitude of acetaminophen psychological effects either.

“I don’t want to exaggerate how big these effects are, so the practical implications of this remain unknown,” Heine says. “Like, how much are people going to be living their lives differently when they’re on Tylenol? I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact on them at any given moment. But there might be some situations or some tasks where you really do need to be focused on potential conflict or anything that might cause harm. And in those situations Tylenol does seem to blunt this.” We need to acknowledge that these effects exist and continue to explore how far they reach, he says.

For healthy adults, the effects may be small, but for other groups, there may be more of an impact. Like children, who so often get acetaminophen for fevers and colds: if Tylenol dampens psychological discomfort, Ratner asks, “What are the long-term consequences of blunting emotional processing during early brain development?”

Handy worries about elderly people, for whom falling is often a risk. “You can imagine, you start mind-wandering at the wrong time, like going down the stairs, or negotiating something tricky in your environment, that can lead to a problem,” he says. “Suddenly, you’re not paying attention to where your feet need to go, and then you have a fall. So I think in some compromised populations, this could be more of an issue.”

Ratner says there’s also the intriguing possibility that acetaminophen might be used therapeutically one day for people dealing with minor cases of depression or social anxiety. A study from last October found that giving acetaminophen to people with borderline personality disorder might help alleviate their distrust in others. But given that we’re not sure who it works best on, and given that in some studies it shows the opposite effects, we need to know a lot more about exactly what is going on first.

The idea that popping a Tylenol could help you deal with your break up or settle your nerves before a job interview is appealing—but this could be taken too far by people trying to blunt more powerful emotions like depression. Acetaminophen is safe at the right doses, but can become extremely toxic very quickly, easily leading to overdose and liver failure.

Heine says that sometimes, in a tongue-in-cheek way, he now thinks when he’s having a bad day, Maybe I should have a Tylenol. Handy also says the thought has crossed his mind to take a Tylenol before giving talks that might make him a little bit nervous. I ask Ratner if he has changed his own use of Tylenol, and he says he hasn’t.

“I take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for dealing with common aches and pains when necessary, and none of this research makes me really think twice about doing that,” he says. “But I think when I do take it, I am kind of aware of the possibility that these drugs could influence how I’m processing information and evaluating other people. It’s in the back of my mind.”

UPDATE: A representative from Tylenol provided the following statement, which has been edited for length: “The authors clearly state that ‘further research is needed’ and the reviewed studies administered OTC analgesics to people who were not taking the medicines for physical pain and, therefore, ‘may not apply to the typical person who takes these medications for pain.’ These studies were conducted off-label as you know. The OTC drug facts label has the information that consumers need to appropriately use over the counter analgesics for their self-management of pain and appropriately directs them to speak to their doctor or pharmacist.”

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How long does it take for tylenol pm to work?

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  • You are having blood work done and the Dr said not to take any Tylenol you just remembered you have been taking 1 Tylenol pm every night how long should you wait before you have the blood work done?


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    In about how long will I start feeling sleepy? Within the hour? Or 30 minutes???

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    It will be less affective the more you use it. Taking more really will not help.(I know I tried it)…

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    okAY so i am 14 and i need to fall asleep i have used Tylenol PM before and it didn’t work at all how many do i need to take to make me fall asleep? Oh and i am a female and 110 pounds

    Tylenol PM will not be any more or less effective then the last time you used it. Tylenol PM’s active…

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    The sleep aid (diphenhydramine/Benadryl) should wear off in about four hours. Have some coffee for now…

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  • Tylenol PM before bedtime?

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    take it around dinner time or a bit after. Otherwise it can make your drowsy in the morning.

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Tylenol PM

Generic Name: acetaminophen and diphenhydramine (a SEET a MIN oh fen and DYE fen HYE dra meen)
Brand Name: Aceta-Gesic, Coricidin Night Time Cold Relief, Excedrin PM, Headache Relief PM, Legatrin PM, Mapap PM, Midol PM, Night Time Pain, Pain Relief PM Extra Strength, Percogesic Extra Strength, Tylenol Cold Relief Nighttime, Tylenol PM, Tylenol Sore Throat Nighttime, Unisom with Pain Relief

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Feb 18, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

  • Overview
  • Side Effects
  • Dosage
  • Interactions
  • Pregnancy
  • Reviews
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What is Tylenol PM?

Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and a fever reducer.

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that reduces the natural chemical histamine in the body. Histamine can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and runny nose.

Tylenol PM is a combination medicine used to treat headache, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and pain or fever caused by allergies, the common cold, or the flu.

Tylenol PM may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Do not take more of this medication than is recommended. An overdose of acetaminophen can damage your liver or cause death.

In rare cases, acetaminophen may cause a severe skin reaction. Stop taking Tylenol PM and call your doctor right away if you have skin redness or a rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, allergy, pain, or sleep medication. Acetaminophen (sometimes abbreviated as APAP) is contained in many combination medicines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much acetaminophen which can lead to a fatal overdose. Check the label to see if a medicine contains acetaminophen or APAP.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage while taking acetaminophen.

Before taking this medicine

Ask a doctor before taking medicine that contains acetaminophen if you have ever had liver disease, or if you drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages per day.

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • severe constipation, blockage in your stomach or intestines;

  • untreated or uncontrolled diseases–glaucoma, asthma, heart disease, overactive thyroid; or

  • if you are unable to urinate.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before taking this medicine if you have any medical condition, especially:

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Do not use cold or allergy medicine without a doctor’s advice if you are pregnant.

This medicine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Antihistamines may slow breast milk production. Do not use cold or allergy without a doctor’s advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Always ask a doctor before giving a cold or allergy medicine to a child. Death can occur from the misuse of cough and cold medicines in very young children.

How should I take Tylenol PM?

Use this medication exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take Tylenol PM for longer than recommended. Cold or allergy medicine is usually taken only for a short time until your symptoms clear up.

Do not take more of this medication than is recommended. An overdose of acetaminophen can damage your liver or cause death.

Stop taking the medicine and call your doctor if you still have a fever after 3 days, or you still have pain after 10 days (or 5 days if treating a child). Also call your doctor if your symptoms get worse, or if you have any redness or swelling.

If you need surgery or medical tests, tell the doctor ahead of time if you have taken this medicine within the past few days.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since this medicine is used when needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are on a schedule, use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of acetaminophen can be fatal.

The first signs of an acetaminophen overdose include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, sweating, and confusion or weakness. Later symptoms may include pain in your upper stomach, dark urine, and yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

What should I avoid while taking Tylenol PM?

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, allergy, pain, or sleep medication. Acetaminophen (sometimes abbreviated as APAP) is contained in many combination medicines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much acetaminophen which can lead to a fatal overdose. Check the label to see if a medicine contains acetaminophen or APAP.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage while taking acetaminophen.

This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Tylenol PM side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

In rare cases, acetaminophen may cause a severe skin reaction that can be fatal. This could occur even if you have taken acetaminophen in the past and had no reaction. Stop taking Tylenol PM and call your doctor right away if you have skin redness or a rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling. If you have this type of reaction, you should never again take any medicine that contains acetaminophen.

Stop using the medicine and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeats;

  • severe dizziness or drowsiness, slow or shallow breathing;

  • tremor, restless muscle movements;

  • little or no urinating;

  • flu symptoms, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, pale skin, feeling light-headed; or

  • nausea, pain in your upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Common side effects may include:

  • constipation;

  • dry eyes, blurred vision, dry mouth or nose;

  • mild dizziness or drowsiness, trouble concentrating;

  • feeling restless or excited (especially in children); or

  • mild skin rash.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Tylenol PM?

Other drugs may interact with acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 16.04.

Medical Disclaimer

More about Tylenol PM (acetaminophen / diphenhydramine)

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  • FDA Alerts (4)

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