Nyquil is the Antichrist

All I want is a good night’s rest.  Really, it does wonders.  You wake up revitalized, you have more energy for the day, and a greater ability to throw on that positive attitude.  You’re nicer.  At least, that’s what I have heard.

I have only experienced this phenomenon on a few occasions, typically one or two times per year.  It’s like I am an entirely different person on those days.   I stare at everyone I encounter that day, willing them to telepathically intercept and answer the burning question running through my head, “Do YOU feel like this today?  Do you ALWAYS feel like this?”   I really can’t imagine.  It is similar to the feeling I had the first day I got glasses.  First of all, I remember coming home after I failed the eye test at school in 3rd grade.  I was livid.  The ladies who ran the tests had no empathy.  They didn’t tell me it was okay, or warn me as we went along that I was getting answers wrong.  They just circled “failed” on a little slip of paper and handed it to me.  Gasp.  What?  I failed the eye test?  What the hell?  Those people didn’t even have any business testing my eyes!   But, those bitches were right.  A few months later when my frames came in, I slid them on and looked around.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There were individual leaves on the trees (I couldn’t stop looking at trees, for weeks).  Light posts and headlights just look like…lights.  There were no gigantic starbursts extending feet from the illumination.   I was astonished.  I remember thinking, “People actually see like this?”  I experience that same overwhelming feeling of amazement when I arise rested.

I have yet to figure out what it is that results in the rare, unimaginably blissful, slumber.  Is it a particular exercise I did?  Or a particular food that I ate?  Or one I didn’t eat?  Was it great sex?  Or a stretch of celibacy?  Was it the glass of wine I had?  Or the two glasses?  Well, no, two glasses has been tested pretty rigorously, that’s certainly not the magic key.  (Dirty Secret:  I do keep testing it though.  For the sake of science.  Larger n = more accurate data).  Any-hoo, I have yet to find a pattern.

Nyquil is a favorite sleep aid of many.  Even my husband, who doesn’t like to take two naproxen after breaking his nose (he’s done this four times) or pulling a muscle at soccer (he does this weekly), feels that Nyquil is worth taking, if he isn’t feeling well and needs some good rest.

So far, I have found no other nighttime horror to be worse than Nyquil.  Not even the itchy twitchies of restless legs.  When I first ingest the abominable, green liquid, I feel like my normal self.  The terror begins about ½ hour after I fall asleep.  Here’s how it goes:

PING!  Eyes wide open.  Heart racing.  I feel … energetic.  Like I could clean my entire house.  Except, I am simultaneously exhausted.  Like I could collapse if I tried to get up.  I feel slightly dizzy.  I fall back asleep for 20 minutes.  PING!  Eyeballs back open.  Now I feel like parts of my body are awake.  Electrical impulses are traveling throughout my body, but they aren’t very coordinated.  It’s like the impulses that are supposed to fire together, are firing at different times.  Time passes, and somehow, I become both more awake and more exhausted at the same time.   The clock ticks…ticks…ticks…ticks…and I attempt to sleep.  I keep moving around the bed until my head is where my feet go and my feet are under my pillow.  I then roll back around.  My sheets get pulled out and are wrapped around my leg.  I get up, thinking that will help.  But, unlike with restless legs, it doesn’t help.  (And, it annoys my cat, who is trying to cuddle at my feet.  I know I have disappointed him, by moving, and that makes me cry.  Exhaustion makes me emotionally fragile)  I hardly have the energy to stand, but I am way too wired to sleep.  I go to the bathroom.  I look in the mirror.  A phantom stares back at me.  I yell out loud, “UGGHHHHHHH”.  My voice sounds muffled, unusual.  My head is cloudy, my ears are stuffed with cotton.  I lay back down and twist and turn and moan.  Finally, I fall asleep.  Ten minutes later my alarm clock goes off.  My eyes do NOT go “PING”, instead it is more of a “CREEEEAK”, like a very old, heavy door being forced open.  I cry again.  I continue to walk zombie-like throughout the day.   I cannot think or contribute to anything productive.  I am incredibly groggy.  I am NOT NICE.  The bags under my eyes are so large, they would not be able to be checked, if I were to fly Northwest.  It’s ugly.

The first few times this happened, I chalked it up to me just having a particularly bad night.  I thought maybe I was stressed, or ate Mexican food (a gluttonous consumption of nachos?) at too late an hour.  However, after this continued I finally researched the side effects of Nyquil.  Apparently I am not alone, and about 5% of us lucky ones have a paradoxical reaction to medications like this.  Basically, the medications have the opposite effect that they should.  Awesome.  Needless to say, I now steer clear of this medication at all costs.  If I were condemned to hell, I think I would be either be driving, while lost, .in a rainstorm, or be forced to take Nyquil before bed every night.  After the Nyquil catastrophes, I’m pretty leery of trying the other sleep aids out there.

35 thoughts on “Nyquil is the Antichrist

  1. Have you tried Benadryll?? It’s safe, non-habit forming, & knocks me out every time. I have the same reaction to Unisom. It’s awful. I usually fire up FB & rearrange my farm on Farmville. Pretty mindless entertainment.

    1. I get almost the same effect from Benadryl, unfortunately! I am a little afraid to try some of the other sleeping aids, after the grotesque response my body gave to Nyquil. Perhaps next summer I will begin some more intensive sleep-drug experimentation.

  2. love the analogy to your failed eye test, as well as pondering the possiblity of bringing all the problems back to mexican food -nachos again? hehe. I’ve never tried Nyquil just to sleep but with my sleep problems I’m now scared to, thanks for the heads up! and keep up the wine tests, you never know!

  3. Awww, makes me sad. I did just tell that eye test story to our favorite eye doctor, however, and we got a chuckle. I do think there’s something out there for you, though. xooxoxoo

  4. first, I hear you on the eye thing. I didn’t get glasses until high school, but should have had them much sooner. I was all “wow, you’re really ugly, why was I dating you?”

    Nyquil does wonders for me – in the actual passing out department. The next day, tho? Groggy. So I can only take it if I know I don’t need to be – you know – alert the next day.

  5. We call that stuff crack for colds. It’s has occasionally had the label scratched out to reflect the more accurate description of the product. I may still have a stain in back seat of the car from a certain husband who passed out hard and drooled. a.lot.

    There must be something, marathons? re-shingling the house? I hold out faith that you will find your something 😉

    1. Hah! Love the drool mark! Running has helped a bit with the restless legs and falling asleep – got up to a half this year. But, I can only run when it is about 50 degrees and cooler (my preference is about 20 or 30 degrees) so it is a decent remedy for about 6 months. Do not tell my husband you suggest re-shingling the house – that is totally something he would try to have me help with (ew).

  6. Maybe you could mix it up? Try reverse psychology on your brain and take Dayquil? I “sleep” but I sleep very poorly, according to the armband thingy I wear that supposedly tracks it. We bought a new mattress and I now sleep slightly better. When I take benadryl, it works fine, until it wears off, then it’s even harder to get to sleep.

    1. Hah! I actually DO take dayquil sometimes, at night! The first time I tried it, my husband thought I was crazy. It didn’t help me sleep, per se, but it did stop my cough, which was waking me up all night. It doesn’t have the (pseudoephedrine?) or some ingredient that the Nyquil has. What is this arm band thingy you speak of??

  7. Brilliant tale of misery due to medication. I have had issues with certain sleep medications … Xanax for example … even on the “low” dose of .5 mg … so I can totally relate … Tramal/Tramadol is another rotten medication … didn’t help my pain NOR did it allow me to sleep AT ALL until it was out of my system … The overwhelming “drowsiness” (that you wrote about) was there, meaning I’d lie down for ages – hours & hours on & off, literally tossing & turning as you described. Horrible. Better not to sleep at all & then sleep better when one’s body/mind decides to allow you to catch up. That’s okay if you don’t have a job, or some kind of routine to your life, where/when you’re expected to “perform” in some way. Thank you for bringing a bit of joy into an otherwise mundane day. You should write for a living. You’re extremely entertaining. Thanks so much. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Anna! Yes, as a teacher (and now a mother) having to be “on” all the time, this sort of problem sleeping definitely affects performance. I am SOOOO glad I don’t have this reaction to Xanax – so sorry, my dear!

  8. I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE! My goodness! After my horror (for the fourth time) with Nyquil last night I decided to do some googling to see if my experience is at all common, and stumbled upon this blog post.

    The only sleep aid I can take (and I’ve tried them all) without a paradoxical reaction is Advil PM for some odd reason.

    NEVER taking Nyquil again.

  9. Hello, I read your story and I feel for you but I have a problem of my own, I am a mother of a 14 year old girl who has your EXACT problems. Firstly when she was 7 Grade 2 she had to get glasses, on the way home she said mommy the trees have leaves, I cried in the front seat because I should have known the signs that she couldn’t see, but reading your story brought back this memory as we are now battling the sleep issue for 3 or so years. We have tried Hot baths before bed, warm milk before bed, cutting out carbs by 2pm, Bedtime yoga, melatonin 5mg as prescribed by her pediatrician. She is a very active dancer that dances 9hrs a week and she is at a healthy weight.She is an A student and has a good group of friends, so it isn’t a stress issue.I now allow her to take a Zquill on sunday night so at least she has one good nights sleep a week, but has complained of feeling a bit groggy in the AM. My next step is to take her to a sleep clinic. I’ve tried everything that i know of and if anyone has any other ideas that I haven’t tried.

    1. I haven’t yet tried the sleep clinic but I’m wondering what the heck is taking me so long to go. Can’t hurt. Does your daughter battle with add? Sometimes there is a correlation between that and poor sleep. Good luck! !

  10. I have the same problem when I take niquil. Creepy crawlies in my legs (I imagine this is what RLS geeks like), wide awake every 30 minutes, cannot find a comfortable position to sleep. Worst sleep in my life. Advil PM does not do this to me at all however I found out the hard way that I only need one to get the job done. The bottle says two but that’s way too strong for me. With two, I couldn’t even roll over in my sleep let alone lift up my arm and the next day was all hazy. I couldn’t focus on anything. One works great as long as I take it early enough to get about 8 hours of sleep. No Creepy crawlies in the legs and no waking up every half hour.

    1. i’ll keep that in mind to try the advil pm in a pinch, i’ve been way too terrified to try anything after the nyquil incidents!! other than xanax or a muscle relaxer – those usually help.

  11. Enjoyable read… while on Niquil and researching Niquil for why I feel so shitty. As for the wrestless legs, magnesium, as you probably know and some good yoga leg poses. Frog pose, downward facing dog. At first I thought this was written by a man, but hey, generally women come across as too cutesy or cheesy when writing satire…I like it!

    1. Yes just started magnesium and am in love with yoga. So far ive found logging as many miles as possible jogging helps the most. Not necessarily sustainable forever but helping for now. Thanks for the suggestions!

  12. I share your horrible reaction to NyQuil. I actually bought a bottle today because I’ve been getting no sleep and thought I might be getting the flu, but I was too terrified to take any after my previous reactions. I also have the same problem with Gravol, which I know other people use to help them sleep and not just for nausea. I can’t remember how I react to Benadryl – I’m too nervous to give it a try.

    So glad I found your post – will be trying the Advil PM suggestion other commenters have posted.

    1. Almost two years later and still the ONLY sleep aid I can take with no terrible side effects is Advil PM. Hoping to get off sleep aids altogether, but at least found one that doesn’t make me feel like I’m having a waking nightmare!

      1. I’m a little late to this party, but I’ve had a similar reaction to NyQuil and Benadryl – only after taking them for several days(separate occasions of course- I wouldn’t recommend mixing these meds). NyQuil has doxylamine succinate (the antihistamine that causes drowsiness) in it and Tylenol pm has diphenhydramine(more commonly known as Benadryl, also an antihistamine) in it. I’m so late, you’ve probably already figured this out- but in case you haven’t- I would not try Advil pm if you have had an adverse reaction to benadryl(diphenhydramine). Also- always check the labels on OTC sleep meds because most of them contain doxylamine succinate or diphenhydramine as their active ingredient. The only thing that helps me sleep at night is a 10mg melatonin- and only if I take it an hour before bed and then turn everything off as soon as I get to bed. Again, I know I’m really late, but hope this helped a little! I hope that you have found the right key for your good nights sleep by now! If not, best of luck!

  13. Your post made me smile (in my zombie like state). I just had this exact experience with Nyquil last night. And I’ve taken it many times before this with no problems. I suppose it has decided I am no longer worthy and has turned against me.

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