Saturday, January 01, 2011

to excess

I sometimes have a problem falling asleep--not for lack of being tired, mind you, but I get into that loop where I am thinking lots of thinks and my mind gets a-racing and next thing I know it's 1:00am and I have to wake up for work in four hours. So sometimes I will take 25mg of Benadryl to help things along. It's just a Tylenol PM without the Tylenol, not habit-forming (so far as I know--maybe some smart neuroscientist among you can tell me if there have been any long-term studies on upregulation of central muscarinic receptors after long-term antihistamine use for whatever reason--but like I said, so far as I know) and man, it works.

I still remember when I was hospitalized in medical school for peritonitis--it's a long story but the short version is that I had appendicitis and they sent me home from the ER and my appendix perfed, which led to about a month of GOOD TIMES--and in the hospital I was prescribed IV Bendadryl prn for sleep. Most of the patients had the standard Ambien PRN reflexively penned into their charts by some dutiful little first-year resident (just like how every patient no matter what they were admitted for* is written for Tylenol PRN, because one less call from the floor for a Tylenol order is possibly one more minute of sleep before the next call from the floor) but since I was NPO (nothing by mouth, you know, because of my guts was all FULL OF PUS) I was written for IV Benadryl instead. I initially thought it was weird to be prescribed an antihistamine a sleep aid, but boy howdy, I am a believer now.

Anyway, I couldn't fall asleep last night, despite initial indications that I would barely be able to stay awake until midnight to ring in the New Year. Only instead of one 25mg Benadryl, for some reason, I took two. Not really sure why, but I'd been taking Benadryl for the past few days (Joe's Aunt Sue, with whom we were staying this week, has two cats that I was unfortunately allergic to--somewhat disgusting aside: I have been told that the major trigger for cat allergies is not so much the cat fur itself rather the cat spit, with which each cat hair is lovingly coating in the process of self-grooming, a factoid that I could have probably done without) and I figured...well, I don't know what I was thinking. Anyway, 25mg = good dose, 50mg = probably overkill. I barely even moved until 9:00am, which is very late for me, at which point the kids practically pried me out of bed with a crowbar. (An acoustic crowbar, but either way, it's metaphorical.)

Here's to hoping your New Year's Eve was less excessive than mine, I guess.

* Well, maybe not liver failure.


  1. Anonymous11:05 PM

    I used to take Benadryl for sleep sometimes, maybe once or twice a week, but then it inexplicably stopped working for me. Apparently, that can be a problem with Benadryl.

  2. Anonymous11:07 PM

    Long-term usage of antihistamines is associated with memory problems. I'd avoid it as a sleep aid and get a prescription for Ambien. Less AM hangover, too.

  3. I've been following your blog since 2005, so not quite from the beginning but a darn site longer than most blogs.

    When I first stumbled upon it, I totally blog-stalked your back posts and read them from the beginning. You cracked me up.

    But it was a long time ago, so I enjoyed reading a couple old posts per your links just now, and it occurred to me when I was going over your 2002 Triple-A post (classic!) that maybe Stephanie Meyer has been a closet Underwear reader.

    To wit, this sounds an AWFUL lot like it could have been the inspiration for (the unfortunately-named) Renesme when she was en utero:

    "Also, the baby was apparently some incredibly strong monster baby, because it was pushing my stomach all the way out with every move of its limbs, like my abdominal wall was made of some sort of stretchy polymer."

    Perhaps there's a connection?! ;-)
    HNY2U! ♥

  4. Heidi5:22 AM

    You don't get the terrible Benadryl hangover? It makes me feel suuuuuuper groggy for like 2 days.

    Those people that make the Hyland's teething tablets also make a sleep aid called "Calms Forte", which, in addition to having a fabulous name, works really well and doesn't give me any sort of hangover.

  5. No Benadryl hangover for me, and I wake up fresh as a daisy provided I take just 25mg. But with that 50mg yesterday I was sleepy all morning until about 2pm. Good thing it was a Saturday and I didn't have to go to work.

  6. I'm allergic to dogs (I chose a great career, I know!) and it doesn't usually bother me that much (I guess I'm constitutively degranulated from living with 4 of them) but when I used to go home for Christmas break in college, my allergies to my family dog would make me miserable. So I started taking Benadryl (since Claritin and Allegra did nothing) and hoo-boy, did I sleep!!! Like, 14+ hours a NIGHT, sleep! I could not wake up. It was crazy.

    Nowadays, I take half a Unisom when I can't sleep, and I loooove it. :) No hangover, get a normal amount of excellent, deep sleep and then wake up normally!

  7. ^LOL.

    I tend to fall asleep on the non-sedative antihistaminics but remain wide awake on the sedative ones.

  8. I have never taken Benadryl but I do know the one time I tried Tylenol PM it made me jittery and I was awake all night. I hated it.

    They gave me Ambien in the hospital [I think] and that didn't work but the Dilaudid sure did [that was for pain]. I was so happy when I felt good enough to stop taking it before I was discharged because I was a mumbling fool while on it. At least my family thought I was entertaining. :D

    If I forgot to say so CONGRATS on the book. I can't wait to read it.

  9. Anonymous9:48 PM

    Ambien is associated with long term cognitive impairment. So I think the occasional benadryl is probably better.

    Or - we'll go with the party line. Sleep hygiene. (What I don't tell the patients is that every few months after on call craziness I dose with polaramine ;))


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