Does Tylenol Make You Sleepy? What You Need to Know

Tylenol is a popular over-the-counter medication that contains acetaminophen, a drug that can relieve pain and reduce fever. But does Tylenol make you sleepy? And what are the possible side effects of taking too much of it? Here’s what you need to know.


How Tylenol Works?

Tylenol belongs to a group of medications called analgesics (painkillers) and antipyretics (fever reducers). It works by blocking the release of certain chemicals in your brain that signal the sensation of pain. It also helps your body eliminate excess heat when you have a fever.

Tylenol can be used to treat mild to moderate pain from various conditions, such as headaches, muscle aches, arthritis, toothaches, sore throats, colds, and the flu. It can also be beneficial for people who deal with existential dread, such as the anxiety that comes from thinking about death, according to a study from the University of British Columbia.

Tylenol is available in different forms, such as tablets, capsules, liquids, and suppositories. It can also be found as an ingredient in many combination products sold over-the-counter, such as cold and cough medicines, allergy medicines, and sleep aids.

Does Tylenol Make You Sleepy?

The answer is not straightforward. Tylenol itself does not directly cause sleepiness or drowsiness. However, it can indirectly make you feel sleepy by relieving the pain that has stressed your body and made you restless. When your pain is gone, your body may feel more relaxed and ready to rest.

However, some Tylenol products contain other ingredients that can cause sleepiness or drowsiness. For example, Tylenol PM is a combination of acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that can make you feel sleepy. Diphenhydramine is also found in many other over-the-counter sleep aids and allergy medicines.

The sleepiness or drowsiness caused by these products may be more intense or likely if you:

  • drink alcohol while taking them
  • take other medications that cause sleepiness, such as opioids, benzodiazepines, or other antihistamines
  • are aged 65 years or older

Therefore, if you take Tylenol products that contain diphenhydramine or other sedating ingredients, you should avoid activities that require you to be alert, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.

What Are the Side Effects of Tylenol?

Tylenol is generally safe and well-tolerated by most people when taken at the recommended dosage. However, some people may experience side effects or allergic reactions to it. These include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach pain
  • rash or itching
  • swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • peeling or blistering skin

If you have any of these symptoms after taking Tylenol, you should stop taking it and contact your doctor or get medical help right away.

The most serious side effect of Tylenol is severe liver damage. This can happen if you take too much acetaminophen or take it with alcohol or other drugs that affect your liver. Your liver processes acetaminophen and converts it into a different substance. If there is too much of this substance in your body, it can damage your liver cells and cause liver failure.

Symptoms of liver damage include:

  • yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • pain in the upper right area of your abdomen
  • dark urine
  • pale stools
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • fatigue
  • sweating

If you suspect you have taken too much Tylenol or have any signs of liver damage, you should contact your poison control center or get emergency medical help right away. Do not wait for symptoms to appear. Early treatment can prevent serious complications and save your life.

How to Prevent Tylenol Overuse

To prevent Tylenol overuse and its harmful effects on your liver, you should follow these tips:

  • Read the label carefully and follow the directions for how much and how often to take Tylenol.
  • Do not take more than 4 grams (4000 milligrams) of acetaminophen in 24 hours.
  • Do not take more than one product that contains acetaminophen at the same time.
  • Check the ingredients of other over-the-counter or prescription drugs you are taking and make sure they do not contain acetaminophen.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Tylenol or other products that contain acetaminophen.
  • Talk to your doctor before taking Tylenol if you have liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or any other medical condition.
  • Tell your doctor about all the medications and supplements you are taking, especially if they affect your liver.
  • If you need to take Tylenol for more than 10 days or if your pain or fever does not improve, consult your doctor.

Tylenol can be a safe and effective medication for pain and fever relief, but it can also cause sleepiness and liver damage if misused or overused. Therefore, you should always use it with caution and follow the instructions on the label. If you have any questions or concerns about Tylenol, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.


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