An Advil PM commercial on television targets those who have difficulty falling asleep.  It starts off with a gentleman in pajamas stating “I’m doing my own sleep study,” comparing Advil PM to Tylenol PM.  Besides the obviously misleading use of the term “sleep study,” is there that much difference between the two?

Both over-the-counter sleeping aids use diphendydramine as an active ingredient.  Diphenhydramine, otherwise known as benadryl, is one of the most commonly used OTC sleep aids.  The main difference between these medications is Advil contains ibuprofen and Tylenol contains acetaminophen.  The recommended dose for Advil PM is also higher, containing 76 mg of diphenhydramine citrate while Tylenol PM ‘s recommended dose contains 50 mg of diphenhydramine HCL.   The “HCL” and “citrate” describe the form and how the diphenhydramine is absorbed.

The most common complaint associated with use of diphenhydramine as a sleep aid is difficulty waking up the next morning.  Many people report a “groggy” or “hung over” feeling.  For people who have a low tolerance, the small dose may be more appropriate if it is necessary to be alert the next morning.

These medications are commonly taken when there is no reported pain.  You may wish to purchase either of the two diphenhydramine medications separately from a pain reliever of your choice.  This will prevent you from taking medication that is not needed.  You will also be able to control your intake since most diphenhydramine comes in 25 mg pills.

Diphenhydramine is known to interfere with some medications, such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs.  It has also been rumored that restless leg syndrome is exacerbated by the use of this sleep aid.  As always, you should consult your physician or pharmacist to see if any medication is right for you.