Compare Benadryl vs. Ambien

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Prescription or OTC

Ambien (zolpidem)

Prescription only
Treats allergy symptoms and helps you sleep.

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is great for allergies, but curl up on the couch after taking it and get ready for a nap.

4.1/ 5 average rating with 294 reviewsforBenadryl
Helps you sleep.

Ambien (zolpidem) aids in falling asleep and staying asleep, but it can be habit-forming and might be more likely than other sleep medicines to cause side effects.

3.7/ 5 average rating with 1375 reviewsforAmbien
Upsides
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is often better than other antihistamines at treating allergy symptoms and hives.
  • It can provide quick relief of allergy symptoms for both kids and adults.
  • It makes you sleepy, so it'll help if your allergies are bothering you at night.
  • The effects wear off in 4 to 6 hours, so side effects don't last that long.
  • It comes as a tablet, capsule, liquid, and quick dissolving tablet.
  • Effective at helping people fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
  • Extended release form is particularly good for staying asleep, and you can use it for longer than the immediate release form.
  • Generic is available.
Downsides
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you more tired than Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec.
  • You shouldn't drive after taking Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) until you know how it affects you.
  • Talk to a pediatrician before giving Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) to a child.
  • It can increase the risk of falls, so elderly people shouldn't use Benadryl (Diphenhydramine).
  • Don't use Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) if you are breastfeeding.
  • Not typically used for long-term treatment because it can be habit-forming.
  • Some people find that Ambien (zolpidem) becomes less effective over time.
  • More likely to cause sleep-walking, sleep-driving, and sleep-eating.
  • Might not be safe if you have problems with your liver, kidneys, lungs, or if you have a history of depression.
Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Oral solution
  • Cream, gel, or ointment
  • Pill
  • Oral spray
  • Sublingual pill
Price
No pricing information available
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Reviews
294 reviews so far
86%
saidit'sworth it
59%
saiditworked well
8%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)?

Leave a review
1375 reviews so far
67%
saidit'sworth it
50%
saiditworked well
16%
saidit'sa big hassle

Have you used Ambien (zolpidem)?

Leave a review
Side effects
The Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
18possible side effects
  • Drowsiness
    8%
  • Headache
    7%
  • Dizziness
    5%
  • Allergic reactions
    4%
  • Sinus infection
    4%
  • Dry mouth
    3%
  • Back pain
    3%
  • Lack of energy
    3%
  • Drugged feeling
    3%
  • Diarrhea
    3%
  • Sore throat
    3%
  • Flu-like symptoms
    2%
  • Racing heart
    2%
  • Lightheadedness
    2%
  • Depression
    2%
  • Abdominal pain
    2%
  • Constipation
    2%
  • Rash
    2%
See more detailed side effects
Risks and risk factors
  • Overdose
    • Using other drugs with the same ingredients
  • Increased side effects
    • Age 65 years or older
  • Driving impairment
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Hyperactivity
    • Children age 6 years and younger
  • Trouble urinating
    • Enlarged prostate
    • History of bladder problems
  • Vision changes
    • Glaucoma
  • Breastfeeding
    • Nursing mothers
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Dependence and withdrawal
    • Continuous use of Ambien (zolpidem) for 2 weeks or more
  • Driving impairment
    • Alcohol
    • Taking other medications that make you less alert
    • Less than 8 hours of sleep.
  • Abnormal thoughts
    • Undiagnosed psychiatric conditions
  • Performing activities while asleep
    • Taking Ambien (zolpidem) with alcohol or drugs that cause drowsiness
  • Risk of falls and injury
    • Higher dose
    • Liver problems
    • Taking Ambien (zolpidem) with other nervous system depressants
    • Long-term use
    • Elderly (70 years or older)
See more detailed risks and warnings