Nyquil: Screw it, here’s some over the counter Ambien

Goes well with bath salts.

We assure you that this is not a late April Fool’s Day joke or satirical fake product commentary on our over-medicated society. It is a very real thing you can buy for just $5 from Walgreens and it’s called Zzzquil Nighttime Sleep-Aid Liquid. You guys, IT’S ACTUALLY CALLED ZZZQUIL! The active ingredient is diphenhydramine, the same thing you find in Tylenol PM, Sudafed and Benadryl, except without all those pesky cold and flu fighting ingredients. Cheaper than drugs!

I’ve never been on actual Ambien, but have taken plenty of NyQuil in my day, and it’s a pretty inexpensive sleep aid, assuming you can make it to your bed before passing out with green-stained teeth on the cruel cold tile of your bathroom after swallowing it.

And also, apparently some of you kids take Ambien recreationally? Sounds wild, but at least you don’t concoct some fake mallady to tell your doctor any more if you want to, uh, get drowsy recreationally.

Thanks to Brad for spotting!

[*Brokelyn does not endorse recreational sleep aid abuse]


  1. Actually plain ol’ Benadryl is *just* the diphenhydramine, unless you get one of the fancy “cold and flu” type formulations. Cheaper to just buy some generic benadryl than to get this stuff. Plus then you don’t have to deal with “warming berry flavor.” Barf.

    I have to wonder – how long did it take them to come up with that name. I imagine a focus group wondering how many Zs to include. Yikes. Why not “SleepQuil” or “NySleep”?

  2. Brian B.

    Or you could just buy a package of generic Benedryl for $1 at the Dollar Tree. Same exact active ingredient, easier to take, and a whole lot cheaper.

    • Beach Bunny

      Zzzzqil=diphenhydramine=benedryl=unisom. It is all the exact same drug. I remember we went on a weekend getaway YEARS ago and my daughter got stung by a bee and began to have symptoms of anaphalaxis ..we called her pediatrician…I knew to give her benedryl but the label said “under 2 call your physician” when we went to the store they were OUT so I called my pediatrician back and said “now what?’ He said “buy some unisom. It’s the same thing!

  3. swinter

    It really annoys me that these companies keep acting like they have just invented the next big thing. I was excited to check it out and had high hopes until I realized it was Benadryl. There is a sucker born every minute they say.

  4. Bill Perry

    I have difficulty getting to sleep. I usually take two tablets of store-brand over-the-counter allergy medicine at bedtime. That sometimes works for me. So, when I saw an ad for ZzzQuil, I was very happy and rushed to my pharmacy to get more information. ZzzQuill IS A VERY EXPENSIVE FRAUD!!! In tablet form, it is 50 mg of dyphenhydramine HCl. That is the same exact medicine as two 25 mg tablets of store brand allergy medicine. I recently paid $14.99 for a container of 200 tablets of RiteAid’s 25 mg dyphenhydramine HCl. That is 15 cents for a night’s medication. ZzzQuill is a cheap medication in an expensive container!!! Be smart, don’t buy it.

  5. Pooper

    Irresponsible joiurnalism to call diph “OTC Ambien”. Kids are dumb. These drugs are not the same. They both can cause delerium, but my experience says diph is more of a living nightmare while zolpidem is more of a waking coma. research before you report. Drugs can be dangerous.

  6. Erika

    Comparing diphenhydramine and zolpidem is ridiculous, one is an antihistamine and one is a hypnotic. You should either do a quick Google search or at least have taken both medicines before reviewing them. Everyone should be aware that antihistamines can affect your libido so if sex is important to you, you may not want to take Benadryl/Tylenol PM/ZzzQuil regularly. Also, save yourself some money, you can buy generic Benadryl from the dollar store for about 3 cents per pill.

  7. Sydney

    As someone with a non-24 hour circadian rhythm, you need an awful lot of education in regards to OTC and prescription sleep medication. Tack on sleep disorders just to cover the bases. I’d complain about irresponsible journalism, but this is the internet and everyone needs to be responsible for their own research…even the reader. Respected journalism sites and reporters mess up sometimes, too. As old and cliche as it is, don’t trust everything you read. This is something different though. Am I on a blog and unaware of it? That is what I’m assuming. Anyway, bottom line here Nyquil is cashing in on the alternative packaging of diphenhydramine as a sleep aid and jacking up the price. Nothing new here. Read your labels, everyone!

  8. Sara Baker

    The active ingredient is diphenhydramine 50 mg.

    For exactly the same thing, go to Walmart, Get Equate allergy medication. 100 capsules for $4 and change. Each cap is 25 mg diphenhydramine.

    As others have noted, diphenhydramine isn’t remotely comparable to Ambien.

    • Laura

      Sara, I couldn’t agree with you more! In fact, purchasing generic Benadryl from Walmart is exactly what I have been doing for years. One just has to take a second to read and compare the active ingredients in each product to determine “the savings” he/sheis getting. A smart shopper is a ‘savy’ shopper. Good luck to all of you!

    • Melissa

      If ya check the “discount” shelf in the meds section of Walmart ya can get those Benadryl for 88¢.

      I’ve taken Ambien. In NO way is it even close to Benadryl. Watch out there.

  9. You could do this or just take the all natural approach and take Melatonin vitamins. 3 or 4 bucks for 120 5mg pills. One pill is more than sufficient for most and it makes you have vivid dreams!

  10. Diphenhydramine is the main ingredient of most
    OTC sleep aid. Benadryl is Diphenhydramine.
    It is an antihistamine and one of its side effects is sedation which is why it is often used as a sleep aid.
    But sedatives are not good at producing restful sleep unlike hypnotics which ate true sleep inducers.
    Besides, sedatives like diphenhydramine leave a person drained and fatigued the next day. They can also impact concentration and produce confusion in high doses especially in the elderly.
    Just some words of caution about diphenhydramine use long term.

  11. cheryl

    Yes, it is identical to Benedryl. Or Unisom, or ‘Wal-som’. Each of these drugs has no other added active ingredients either. Just the sleep aid.

  12. fyrfly

    diphenhydramamine, play old fashioned anti-motion sickness, dramamine.
    sold as a sleep aid at Rite-aid. Works great, and non-habitforming, so the label says. for just a nice plain natural tranq, try magnolia bark. non-habit forming and just a nice calmative.

  13. Wendy

    It’s ABSURD!!! (I’m uncertain how Many Americans R Hooked on daily rx drugs) but… It’s staggering!!! I c it ALL the time @ the pharms! Not to mention, how insulted I am over pharmaceuticals trying to “dupe” consumers n2 purchasing their over priced “Benadryl”!!! (b cause they’ve a sleep problem!) PLEASE!!! UGH! btw,if uv no allergy symptoms or R possibly allergic to anti histamines,u could soon after ingestion,b on if way to e.r.! It’s just shameful to me!!! (why won’t “they” just de criminalize marijuana??!?)

  14. Anthony

    Y’all are complaining about 5 bucks really well y’all are some cheap ass people that’s stupid off your really I’m it to save five four dollars then you must be a bum or just someone who complains

  15. rocky

    Its called meletonin, all natural , your brain produces the chemical , go to walgreens get a 50 pill bottle of all natural meletonin for 5 bucks or drink nuerosleep. Goodnight.

  16. phyllis f hill


    Bad stuff! Smelly and tastes awful, plus it did not work for me. Had it helped me sleep, I would have drunk some a second night and held my nose to get it down. But instead, the ZZZQuil went down the drain.


  17. Jon wi

    I think you guys are idiots diphenhydramine is the active ingredient however it also contains 10 percent alcohol to help with the drowsiness. read the whole label before you bad mouth a medication. there is no other medication on the market that contains just diphenhydramine and alcohol

  18. Sudafed is NOT the same ingredient as Diphenhydramine/ZzzQuil. Sudafed is pseudo-ephedrine which has been used in cold/sinus remedies to help dry out nasal passages. It is not associated with being a sleep aid and often times causes nervousness and heart pounding. It is a key ingredient to mixing Meth. This is why it has been removed from pharmacy shelves and can only be found behind the counter.

  19. bunny

    I have been on Ambien for over two years. After watching the Dr Oz show about all the bad side effects over time, like CANCER!!! i decided to give this zzz stuff a try. I took it last night, first time no ambien for 2 years and I slept most of the night, Headaches bad I guess from a withdrawel, Im not sure but day one is over. Eventually I will go to half the dose on the z quil and then quarter, until my body is back to normal I hope!!! Theres a way to get off ambien, so far im crossing my fingers that I found it!

    • helen woods

      It took over 2 years of a slow taper to withdraw from ambien. I was one of those people who became dependent quickly. Unfortunately it also made me walk in my sleep. found myself in the front yard in my pj’s.

  20. If you plan to take this for insomnia dont bother, it may work for regular folk but if you have insomnia theres something else at work…I speak from experience, having always had insomnia and having tried tons of different otc products i thought this would be my saviour…I took it about a half hour before bed and thought it was working, it DID make me tired and my body was tired, relaxed and comfortable…about an hour and a half in I realised it wasnt going to work so I took a double dose and then a little (which is not recommended) again i felt tired and everything,eventually 6.30 AM rolled around and it was time to get up for work without a wink of sleep..The problem is it fails to shut off you’re brain…so if that’s is where your sleeplessness stems from, your out of luck

    • Thank you this is my issue, they have giving me all sorts of meds, I have taken all of the over the counter crap and the only thing that has worked is ambien, mind you when the doctors first prescribed it for the first few years I never took it because I thought it was another failed product, all that sleep missed. All the other products including lunesta, which taste horrible and never put me to sleep and nether does the ambien cr, the Melatonin gives me very bad headaches and that’s at it’s lowest dose and don’t get me started on diphenhydramine, hives and other bad reactions so in the end, if I want to sleep a whole 7 to 8 hours and wake up refreshed and ready to go I will keep my ambien it just plain works for me. I don’t drink I don’t take it any other time except to go to sleep, I don’t have any out of body experiences like missing days or going somewhere other then my bed. I suffer from ptsd so this works for me, if I have a bad habit in the eyes of the medical profession then so be it it’s the only one I have.

  21. Ferris

    Ambien isn’t anything like this. Diphenhydramine gives you such crazy trips but it makes you so uncomfortable. I’ve had so many bad experiences with it where statues came to life and I couldn’t stay still for more than 2 seconds because it would feel like I was about to jump out my skin. Ambien is fun, from what I remember. When people tell you that you won’t remember anything, they’re not lying. I heard bells and tinkering in my closet and I opened it and I saw small brown Smurfs with conveyor belts making beads. In my CLOSET. My fingers were glowing and I woke up on my kitchen floor. It’s some crazy stuff. Anyways, ZZZquil is excellent for helping me sleep. I love it.

  22. jono major

    This is not ambien. and yeah you can get super high off of ambien if it doesn’t knock you out. I took it once and didn’t get sleepy. Then I started to trip. It was like being super drunk and tripping but I wasn’t concerned at all I was super happy. But yeah it scared the shit out of my wife. She had to get her mom to come over and babysit me so she could get sleep before work

  23. Ah, the ZzzQuil scam. Every day there are dozens of people pointing out that this is just super expensive Benadryl on their Facebook page. The moderator of the page then accuses said poster of “spamming” the page & then banning them. I know, I was one of them.

  24. Cant Sleep

    Well for over a year now I havent been able to sleep. If I do fall asleep its for one to two hours thats it. I started taking Unisome Ultra Strength 50mg. At first one Unisome 50mg knock me out within an hour. Then of course longer I took it the more I had to go up. I was finally taking up to 9 a night and sometimes that still didnt put me to sleep. Benadryal was just a joke to me. And I’m actually looking at the Benadryal bottle right now. It takes 4 teaspoons liquid (each teaspoon equals 12.5 mg) to equal one Extra Strength Unisome. I’ve been to the doctor. End up I have some hormones that is causing me not able to sleep. The hormone medicine Im taking hasnt help. Unfortunately I havent been able to go back to my doctor b/c I was in a very bad car wreak in July. It was a miracle I made it through. During the accident my foot was cut half way open and my foot and ankle was broken. My foot and ankle doctor was very worried b/c I couldnt sleep and I was hurting so bad. He said you need sleep to help you heal. So he prescribe me Ambien 5mg which I got the generic of Ambien which is Zolpidem. The first night it knock me out like within 10 mins. I woke up maybe twice during the night but it was so great to have sleep. First time in over a year! The second night samething. I was like thank you God! But after that nothing. I finally ask my doctor could I take two ambien instead of one. He said he didnt like me to but if that help go ahead. So right now 2 ambien has help me sleep. My problem now is he prescribe me a month supply of Ambien for 5mg. Well its only been half a month and I’m out. He wrote me another prescription but since it wasnt written a certain way, the pharmacy will not fill it until another 15 days. So lastnight I only had one Ambien. It never did anything. So I took the ZZZ Quil nighttime sleep aid, nothing. So then I took 2 Unisome, nothing. So then I took another dose of ZZZ Quil and I finally fell asleep. Its awful when you cant sleep. Its even worst when you cant sleep and hurting. Of course the time I found out the pharmacy couldnt fill the medicine its right at 5pm on a Friday and Monday is Labor Day. I wish I was like everyone else and could take just one dose of ZZZ Quil, Benadryal or even Ambien and knock out but I dont. Then I dont understand why my doctor just cant call in the Ambien. I have to actually pick up the prescription??? Its not pain medicine. I have found that Family Dollar sells their brand of Unisome 50mg. I believe you get 30 for $4 which I know Rite Aid brand is $8 for 30. I think Walmart brand of Unisome you can get 96 softgels for $7 or $8. I dont have a Sams card so I dont know how much its there. I dont know how much it cost my bf yesterday for the ZZZ Quil.

  25. Sleepy

    I haven’t slept w/o medication for over 40 years. I take 30 mg of Temazepam (prescription), 1 melatonin 5mg & 1 full serving of ZZZQuill a half hr b4 going to bed. I wake up 4-5 hrs later & take 1 15 mg of Temazepam (prescription), and usually sleep for another few hrs.
    Many people can fall asleep in a chair. I’ve had trouble sleeping since I was a child, as have other family members. It’s just a fact of life, some people can never slow down their brain enough to fall asleep w/o an aide. Only people that can’t sleep w/o help could ever understand this.

  26. Jenna M

    Benadryl Allergy is EXACTLY the same thing–there are no “pesky cold and flu” ingredients, read the label. This product is a joke, just buy the Benadryl or one of its thousands of generic copies for a lot less. ZZZQuil is nothing but hype!

  27. P blakely

    Of you can just buy Walmart’s brand of “Nightime sleeping aid” which is the exact same thing as zzzquil except in a pill and 5 times cheaper.

  28. zanth

    Seriously? Ambien is WAY more powerful and way different than benedryl. I can take 6-8 benedryl and it does nothing to me, ambien knocks me out… or if I force myself to stay awake causes hallucinations, hence the idiots that take it recreationally. Do some research before posting stuff like this.

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