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By Tara Stevens
September 26, 2020



From the makers of Vick’s cough and cold medicine, ZzzQuil is advertised as the perfect solution for a poor night’s sleep. “So you can wake up feeling refreshed.”

According to claims, ZzzQuil is a non-habit-forming sleep-aid that offers relief for occasional sleeplessness and reduces the time it takes to fall asleep.

While this seems ideal, I can’t help but wonder if the manufacturers are riding NyQuil’s success by creating ZzzQuil.

Can ZzzQuil really compete as an effective sleep aid?

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Are The Ingredients Effective?

Unlike other sleep aids, ZzzQuil only contains one active ingredient: diphenhydramine HCI.

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that possesses is primarily used to treat allergies. It is an FDA-approved non-prescription supplement and is often marketed under the trade name Benadryl.

According to WebMD experts, “this medication works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction. Its drying effects on such symptoms as watery eyes and runny nosed are caused by blocking another natural substance made by your body.” [1]

Interestingly enough, manufacturers claim ZzzQuil is not for coughs and colds but rather to promote sleep. Its primary “side effect” is drowsiness, so it’s being praised as a natural sleep aid.

While it does have a strong hypnotic effect, studies show diphenyhydramine tolerance builds up quickly. After 3 days of use, it is no more effective than a placebo. [2]

Consequently, ZzzQuil works best on an as needed basis rather than a long-term insomnia treatment.

Should You Be Worried About Side Effects?

Diphenhydramine, and subsequently ZzzQuil, is marketed as a sleep aid due to its primary side effect: drowsiness and fatigue.

As a result, you should not drive, use machinery, or perform any other hazardous activities.

Additionally, the following side effects are also associated with diphenyhdramine:

• Dizziness
• Headache
• Dry mouth
• Difficulty urinating or an enlarged prostate

Discontinue use and consult your doctor immediately if you experience an allergic reaction: difficulty breathing, closing of the throat, swelling of your lips, tongue, or face, etc.

Is There a Difference Between the Liquid and the LiquiCaps?

ZzzQuil is available in both liquid form and liquidcaps for your convenience.

The only difference between the two formulas is that the liquid formula provides 50 mg diphenhydramine for every 30 mL dose (2 tablespoons), and the liquicaps provide 25 mg per capsule.

How to Use ZzzQuil

Instructions vary slightly depending on if you’re taking the liquid or the liquidcaps:

Liquid: take one 30 mL (2 tablespoons) dose at bedtime if needed or directed by a doctor.

Liquidcaps: take 2 liquicaps at bedtime if needed or as directed by a doctor.

No matter which form you use, do not take more than one dose in a 24 hour period. Taking more than one dose may cause serious health problems. In the case of overdose, seek medical help or contact poison control immediately.

When using this product, avoid alcoholic beverages and any other substances that cause drowsiness.

Can Children Use ZzzQuil?

Children under 12 years old should not use ZzzQuil.

Can I Combine ZzzQuil with NyQuil?
Do not use ZzzQuil in combination with NyQuil. This significantly increases side effect risk.

Can I Combine ZzzQuil with Other Cough and Cold Medicines?
Manufacturers explicitly warn that ZzzQuil should not be used with any other product containing diphenhydramine or other drugs that cause drowsiness. This includes antihistamines and nighttime cold/flu products.

How Often Can you Take ZzzQuil?
No matter which form you use, do not take more than one dose in a 24 hour period. Taking more than one dose may cause serious health problems. In the case of overdose, seek medical help or contact poison control immediately.

What Consumers Are Saying

Most consumer reviews are fairly negative regarding ZzzQuil. It either didn’t work effectively, or there were more affordable options for half the price.
For example, Jeff at wrote:

“ZzzQuil was disappointing. It was also expensive and, frankly, there are better over-the-counter alternatives that do work. I never felt tired, rather all I felt was regret and disgust. ZzzQuil is a non-habit forming sleeping aid, but it doesn’t seem to work, which is, perhaps, why it’s non-habit forming.”

Product Pricing and Guarantee

Although ZzzQuil’s smaller packages make it seem like it’s a good deal, it’s fairly expensive considering that it only contains one ingredient commonly found in other sleep aids.
I shopped around and found ZzzQuil selling for the following prices:

• $4.99 – 12 caps
•$ 7.47 – 24 caps
• $2.99 – 6 fl. oz
• $4.77 – 6 fl. oz.

Unfortunately, manufacturers do not sell ZzzQuil directly on their site. Rather, they provide links to various ZzzQuil distributors.

Additionally there is no money-back guarantee provided. But, it probably doesn’t need one. It would probably cost you more in shipping fees to return the product than it would be to buy it.

More About the Manufacturers

ZzzQuil is owned by Procter and Gamble, or P&G. This large company offers everything from pet foods to cleaning supplies to supplements.

By 2012, P&G generated over $83.68 billion dollars in sales, and Fortune magazine listed P&G as one of the Global Top Companies for Leaders.

According to the Better Business Bureau, Procter and Gamble received an A+ rating on a scale of A+ to F. The business has been BBB accredited since 1928 and is dedicated to resolving consumer complaints.

In the past 3 years, over 255 complaints were filed with the better business bureau, most of which received an adequate and prompt response. For a company this size, that’s a pretty impressive track record.

Final Thoughts

Although ZzzQuil is backed by one of the largest manufacturers in the industry, I’m not exactly impressed with this sleep aid. The main ingredient is primarily used to treat allergies and colds rather than promote sleep, and it can easily be found for half the price.

ZzzQuil may help you fall asleep faster every once in a while, but it isn’t best solution for insomnia.


[1] “Zzzquil oral Side Effects.” WebMD. Available from :

[2] Richardson GS, Roehrs TA, Rosenthal L, Koshorek G, Roth T. “Tolerance to daytime sedative effects of H1 antihistamines.” J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2002 Oct;22(5):511-5. Available from:

ZzzQuil Customer Reviews

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Phyllis Says:

Yes, I have used Zzzquil. Actually, it worked quite well for me. They say ther is no difference between the pill and liquid but there is. The liquid contains 10 percent alcohol and the pill does not. I took the one with alcohol, so that’s probably what put me to sleep.

December 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm

kim Says:

I love zzzquil…. I fall asleep almost immediately and sleep for a good 6 hours! I gave some to both my sisters and they liked it too.

December 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Sabrina Rodriguez Says:

I bought the store brand version of zzz quil at family dollar it’s called EZ night sleep and it’s half the price of zzz quil, I buy the liquid formula instead of the capsules because it works faster and I sleep great!!!! I would definitely recommend this sleep aid to anyone who has trouble falling asleep!

May 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Chris Says:

I started using the store brand of ZZZquill because I wake up between 2 and 4 am and can’t get back to sleep. This has been happening for about a year (getting older!). Now I’m sleeping through!

July 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm

claire Says:

I have used zzzquil a few times. Each time I got a good 7 hours sleep.

September 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Janice Says:

Yes. It worked first two nights. After that it only worked once in five days and leaves me with vertigo issues and have to stop altogether. Believe its brought on severe dizzness off and on and problems just moving my head now.
Has no warnings either not to take with other pills or herbs.

December 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Cheyenne Says:

I tried Zzzquil for about a week but it just does not work for me. It makes me dizzy but it doesn’t make me sleepy at all. Benadryl makes me sleepy and also helps with my allergies so I’m going to use those because I need to get my sleeping schedule fixed.

January 7, 2015 at 9:54 am

Summer Says:

I took this as I have been very ill and did not sleep for a little over two days. I took the liquid version around noon to try and get some sleep. It definitely helped me finally fall asleep but I only slept about 4 hours before I was up again. Since I cannot take more than one dose in 24 hours this leaves me in a tight spot and yearning for sleep. I will probably not repurchase this.

January 10, 2015 at 8:48 pm

Tom Says:

zzzquil did absolutely nothing for me and I took double the recommended dose. I’m on zopiclone 10mg and I can get SOME sleep if I’m lucky…

May 31, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Erica Says:

After a week of major insomnia, a friend recommended Zzzquil to me. I took one at about 9:20 and within 20 minutes was feeling sleepy. I got a good 8 hour sleep, finally! And was up and ’em the next day for work. I don’t feel too sleepy the next day. Apparently Zzzquil has the same component at Benadryl so I suppose they’re the same (though Benadryl helps with allergies also). I am SO glad I found this and will take it again if I cannot sleep in the future.

July 27, 2015 at 6:56 am

Terri Says:

I had trouble sleeping so my husband suggested I try ZzzQuil which he says “works for him.” About an hour after taking it I “woke up” suddenly because I “saw” hoards of insects flying at me. Through the night I also had hallucinations of rats, butterfies, spiders, flowers, birds, etc. I got up and got on my computer and sure enough one of the rare side effects of taking ZzzQuil is hallucinations and psychosis. Buyer beware!

October 25, 2015 at 11:01 am

Gerald Tricarico Says:

I have been using ZZZQuil for more than 1 year – the only thing that works each and every time (I tried several of the so called natural sleep aids like Alteril and SleepMD both were garbage only worked one night then not at all). Even Melatonin works sporadically. Of course I take much more than I should – usually take an Advil PM then start chugging ZZZQuil. Who knows what damage I have already done to my organs???
Why can’t someone (Pfizer, Merck, J&J) make a 100% safe sleeping pill that works every time and does zero damage to the human body????????????????

February 28, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Anahid Gregg Says:

I have horrible insommnia. Zzzquil works extremely well. The last few nights I’ve gotten 8, 9 and 8 hours of sleep, taking only one pill. I don’t particularly like taking pills, so I take half the dose. On a bad (non-Zzzquil night), I may get 3 hours of sleep.
I find it will work for quite a while (2-3 weeks) before becoming less effective. But I try not to take it more than 4-5 days before stopping. My problem is not falling asleep, it’s staying asleep. Works much better than benedryl for me.

September 20, 2016 at 6:21 am

Michael Says:

I use ZZZquil a lot and I rather use this product anytime.Then a pill.I wake up like I had a great night.No rolling around just sight to sleep.It stop the over thinking about going to sleep.

November 5, 2016 at 8:51 am

lydia Says:

I have found that ZzzQuil doesn’t work for me. I find that Nyquil works just fine. Don’t know why one would work better than the other, but there you go.

December 18, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Jay Says:

This works great for me. Im just dissapointed they say its not a long term solution because when I take this I fall asleep in about 15 mins on one pill. I get a full night sleep with no drowsiness the next day. I’m going to ask my Dr if taking it long term is really a problem.

December 31, 2016 at 8:13 am

Shay Says:

Being an active duty service member sleep is not often granted at the most convenient times, today i tried ZzzQuil to help me switch my sleep schedule from nights to days and I gotta hand it to them, I was able to sleep though all the noises the ship provides during daytime evolution’s and I woke up feeling more refreshed then I usually do. For me it works.

March 2, 2017 at 1:31 pm

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