Compare Benadryl vs. Ambien

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

Benadryl
(Diphenhydramine)

Ambien
(zolpidem)

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.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.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5.63Benadryl
Reviews for Benadryl
86%
of people (All ages) say Benadryl is worth it
59%
say it works well
8%
say it's a big hassle
294 reviews
Have you used Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Ambien
67%
+19% better vs. Benadryl
50%
+9% better vs. Benadryl
16%
+8% better vs. Benadryl
1375 reviews
Have you used Ambien (zolpidem)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
BenadrylAmbien

We haven’t found good data for Benadryl side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Benadryl »
  • Drowsiness 2%
  • Flu-like symptoms 2%
  • Racing heart 2%
  • Lightheadedness 1%
  • Depression 1%
  • Constipation 1%
  • Rash 1%
  • Dry mouth 2%
  • Back pain 1%
More Ambien side effects »
How it works
BenadrylAmbien
Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine. It blocks histamine, a chemical that causes congestion, itching, and other allergic reactions. It also makes you sleepy.Ambien (zolpidem) is in a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics. It interacts with your brain to make you relaxed and sleepy.
Type of medication
BenadrylAmbien
Prescription or OTCLower-cost generic availablePrescription onlyLower-cost generic available
Available as
BenadrylAmbien
  • Pill
  • Oral solution
  • Cream, gel, or ointment
  • Pill
  • Oral spray
  • Sublingual pill
Used for
BenadrylAmbien
Risk factors for serious side effects
BenadrylAmbien
  • Using other drugs with the same ingredients
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Children age 6 years and younger
Detailed Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) risks & warnings »
  • Continuous use of Ambien (zolpidem) for 2 weeks or more
  • Alcohol
  • Taking other medications that make you less alert
  • Less than 8 hours of sleep.
  • Undiagnosed psychiatric conditions
Detailed Ambien (zolpidem) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

Alcohol
BenadrylAmbien
  • Don't take it with alcohol or other drugs that make you sleepy.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when taking Ambien (zolpidem).
Kidneys and liver
BenadrylAmbien
No kidneys and liver related info.
  • Might not be safe if you have problems with your liver, kidneys, lungs, or if you have a history of depression.
Sleep
BenadrylAmbien
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you tired, so take it before you go to sleep.
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you more tired than Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec.
  • Ambien (zolpidem) makes you feel drowsy and sleepy, potentially leading to falls and severe injuries. This is especially a risk if you're older. Falls from sleep medicines like Ambien (zolpidem) have caused severe injuries such as hip fractures and head injury. You may need a lower dose if you're taking other medications that also cause drowsiness. Check with your doctor first.
  • Only take it if you have time to sleep for at least 8 hours.
  • Effective at helping people fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
Upsides and benefits
BenadrylAmbien
  • 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 and risks
BenadrylAmbien
  • 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.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
BenadrylAmbien
  • Take it as needed every 4 to 6 hours.
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) can make you dehydrated, so avoid this side effect by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) makes you tired, so take it before you go to sleep.
  • Don't take it with alcohol or other drugs that make you sleepy.
  • If you need to use it for more than a few weeks, talk with your doctor. A different medication might work better for you long-term.
  • If you only have itchy or watery eyes, try using just an antihistamine eye drop.
  • Take 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.
  • Only take it if you have time to sleep for at least 8 hours.
  • Can be addictive. Meant for short-term treatment. Dependence can form after daily use for 2 weeks.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when taking Ambien (zolpidem).
  • Withdrawal symptoms can occur if you abruptly stop the drug and you've been regularly using it. The symptoms usually resolve in 1 to 2 nights.
  • Report any confusion or changes in thoughts or behavior.
Learn more
More about BenadrylSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about AmbienSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Ambien (zolpidem)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it