Does DayQuil Keep You Awake? Plus 5 Tips to Sleep When You Are Sick

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DayQuil is one of the most commonly used cold and flu relief medications that you can find in most stores that sell pharmaceutical products. While there are a few different types of DayQuil, including liquid and pill forms, they all serve the same purpose and have mostly the same effect on a person’s body.

“Does DayQuil keep you awake” is a fairly common question, and the short answer is no. It does not keep you awake. Still, other side effects come with taking DayQuil, so if you’re curious to learn more about those and additional helpful information about DayQuil and its counterpart Nyquil, read on to the sections below.

What Is DayQuil?

DayQuil contains active ingredients such as phenylephrine, acetaminophen, and dextromethorphan. These ingredients help fight off cold/flu symptoms for specific periods and make it less challenging for your immune system to rid your body of sicknesses.

Some of the main cold/flu symptoms that DayQuil combats include the following:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Aches and pains
  • Phlegm
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Itchiness in the eyes
  • Sinus pressure

The acetaminophen in DayQuil is the main ingredient that reduces fever and overall pain, while the dextromethorphan takes away the need to constantly cough. For nasal relief, phenylephrine helps significantly reduce any swelling in your nasal passage’s blood vessels that can cause severe amounts of congestion.

So, while DayQuil is not the ultimate medication for dealing with sicknesses, it’s one of the best for treating common cold symptoms and one of the most accessible, which is what makes it such a popular choice. 

Does DayQuil Have Caffeine?

Some cold medications contain caffeine and other ingredients that act as stimulants to keep you from falling asleep. DayQuil does not have caffeine or any other common stimulants, which helps make it a popular choice for fighting cold/flu symptoms.

Many people consume caffeine throughout the day, and the last thing they need is medication being another source of the stuff, so DayQuil provides a solution to that issue.

Will DayQuil Keep You Awake?

Despite containing many different ingredients that have a wide variety of effects on the body, DayQuil does not contain any stimulants that will actively keep you awake. It is also a non-drowsy medication, so it will not make you fall asleep either. This balance is primarily part of what makes Dayqui accessible for most people.

It is unlikely that DayQuil will have any significant effects on your energy levels, making it safe to use in most cases. There is a chance that it can keep you awake if you suffer from side effects due to things like allergic reactions to certain ingredients in the medication.

Though these are relatively uncommon occurrences, we will cover them more later. 

What Happens If You Take DayQuil Before Bed?

You can safely take it during the day and before you go to bed. If you decide to take DayQuil before going to bed, it’s good to take it a little while before going to bed so it has time to make its way through your system.

According to the FAQ page on, DayQuil takes about 30 minutes to begin working, and it treats cold and flu symptoms for up to four hours. This amount of relief time is often enough for most people to fall asleep quickly, even if they suffer from a cold. If your cold is causing you to cough more than usual, DayQuil also provides 8 hours of coughing relief.

Sleeping when you’re ill is also a key part of overcoming any sickness, so taking DayQuil to further help your body’s immune system when you sleep is never a bad idea.

Other Types of DayQuil and the Different Forms Of DayQuil

There are several different types/forms of DayQuil and each can have a slightly different effect on the user.

DayQuil Severe

DayQuil Severe serves the same purpose as regular DayQuil, but its symptom-fighting capabilities are more robust. This is the more recommendable option for people suffering from extreme colds that regular DayQuil can’t quite get rid of. The added ingredient, guaifenesin, plays a significant role in DayQuil Severe’s more effective removal of mucus and phlegm.

Naturally, DayQuil Severe is more expensive than regular DayQuil, though not by an incredible amount.

DayQuil Liquicaps

DayQuil normally comes in liquid form in a bottle, but you can also get it in the form of capsules. The ingredients don’t change whether you take the medication as a liquid or a pill, so what you prefer comes down to how you like to take your medication.

Many people prefer the DayQuil Liquicaps because it’s much easier to take them on the go compared to the liquid version. However, the standard-sized box only comes with eight capsules, so it does not tend to last as long as the liquid version.

DayQuil Severe VapoCOOL

The DayQuil Severe VapoCOOL can come in both liquid and capsule forms. This variant of DayQuil provides maximum strength against cold and flu symptoms, so it’s most advisable only to use it in cases of serious illness.

Like regular DayQuil, it is safe to use DayQuil Severe VapoCOOL both during the day and before bed, as it contains no ingredients that will prevent you from going to sleep.

Side Effects of DayQuil

Like most medications, you can experience some side effects when taking DayQuil. The nature and severity of the side effects vary from individual to individual, so it’s difficult to say which ones you’re most likely to experience, but we’ll still separate the more common ones from the severe ones.

Common Side Effects

Some common side effects of using DayQuil include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth/throat
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Usually, It won’t take long for you to pick up on some of these after taking DayQuil, and it’s essential to keep track of them if they persist. Despite the side effects being common, they should not last for extremely long periods.

If they do, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible for the proper medical advice about the side effects and go from there. Not doing so can lead to serious health problems, so it’s better not to take that risk.

Also, stop using the DayQuil even if you still suffer from a cold or flu. Continued use of the medication may still prove effective in getting rid of your illness, but the side effects may grow significantly worse at the same time.

Serious Side Effects

Some of the more severe side effects of DayQuil are:

  • Chest pains
  • Extreme dizziness
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Dark urine
  • Urinating less
  • Severe headaches
  • Uneven heartbeats

If you experience any of these after using DayQuil, stop using the medication immediately and seek out emergency help. While rare, these effects can come from allergic reactions you have to the medication and can prove fatal in some instances.

Unless told otherwise by your doctor, refrain from using DayQuil again if you experience more extreme side effects. You can use other medications to treat cold and flu symptoms, and they likely won’t carry the same ingredients that might cause you to experience such severe side effects.

Side Effects That Can Occur as a Result of Mixing DayQuil With Other Medications

Mixing DayQuil with other medications is perfectly okay sometimes, but there are certain drugs you do want to be careful about mixing it with. These drugs include:

  • Phenobarbital
  • Phenytoin
  • Phenothiazines
  • Isoniazid
  • Warfarin
  • Carbamazepine

The acetaminophen in DayQuil is what interacts with these drugs, and the reactions can vary significantly. Because of this, ensure that you aren’t taking any other medications containing the above drugs, and if you are, consult your doctor before taking DayQuil.

How Does DayQuil Compare to NyQuil?

Essentially, taking DayQuil before bed is just as effective as taking Nyquil before bed. The only difference is that Nyquil will make it significantly easier to go to sleep, so which one you choose to take comes down to how much trouble you are having with sleeping easily.

Unlike DayQuil, Nyquil contains doxylamine, which is a drug that does cause drowsiness and helps you sleep if you’re suffering from a cold or flu. Even though Nyquil does make you sleep, it is not recommendable to use it solely for sleep aid purposes because that is not its purpose. It’s not a cure for illnesses like insomnia that affect sleep.

If you use Nyquil as a sleep aid, there is a high likelihood for your body to grow dependent on the medication to sleep. Therefore, you’ll struggle to sleep without it. Nyquil addiction is a real issue, so only use it when experiencing cold/flu symptoms.

Similar to DayQuil, Nyquil also comes in liquid and capsule forms that work the same. Neither medication is notably better than the other, so you can use DayQuil during the day and Nyquil at night for the best results.

5 Tips to Help Yourself Fall Asleep When Sick

If you want to help yourself fall asleep while you might be struggling with an illness, here are a few recommendations for proven methods that can make falling asleep easier.

Read a Book

If you’re the type of person who needs some form of activity to help yourself fall asleep, reading is one of the best things you can start doing. Unlike looking at a phone screen which makes it more difficult to fall asleep, reading a book can cut down on stress levels and helps keep your brain distracted from stressful thoughts.

Lying down while reading also puts your body into its natural sleeping position. Allowing you to essentially get a head start on falling asleep even though your brain is still actively engaging in something.

Hot Shower/Bath

Sometimes all you need to get to sleep is a nice steamy bath or shower before bed. This helps to raise the body’s temperature which ensures that dropping the few 2-3 degrees it needs to promote sleep is much easier to maintain. Plus, you might clear your sinuses and will smell good too.

Drink Chamomile Tea

There are few things as soothing when you are experiencing a bout of sickness than tea. But did you know that chamomile tea can also help you sleep if you are struggling? That’s because it can act as a sleep inducer due to the “apigenin that binds to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.” This helps to induce sleep and it tastes really nice.

Light Exercise

Exercising during the day is another good way to improve the ease with which you fall asleep and the quality of the sleep you get. Being another good way to relieve yourself from stress, getting exercise is as healthy for your mind as it is for your body. It’s also important to note that you should exercise early in the morning.

Some studies talk extensively about the various benefits of physical exercise on sleep and how the timing when the exercise takes place can impact those benefits. For most people, getting up early in the morning and exercising can sound tedious, but if you’re really in need of a way to help yourself fall asleep more quickly, it’s worth giving this method a try.

Avoid Napping

As nice as daytime napping is, it can significantly impact your ability to sleep at night. Taking a nap that lasts for longer than an hour may seem harmless, but that time your body spends sleeping can indirectly affect your ability to sleep at night.

While naps can prove especially useful, especially if you’re in a pinch and need to get some rest during the day, it’s better if you can get yourself on a consistent schedule where you only sleep at night. Without taking naps, your body is likely to have less energy when night comes, making it easier to fall asleep without issue.


DayQuil is an excellent medicine for dealing with cold and flu symptoms, and it does not keep you up like some other medications. So, if you’re worried about still sleeping without any problems when taking DayQuil, you do not need to worry. Conversely, if you were hoping for DayQuil to make falling asleep easier, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Nyquil is the best option if you want to help yourself fall asleep while still giving yourself medication to deal with the cold/flu. However, if you aren’t comfortable with the doxylamine in Nyquil that can cause drowsiness, then consider the alternative methods in the sections above to help yourself fall asleep.

If you still have questions or concerns about anything related to DayQuil or Nyquil, the best thing you can do is contact your doctor for medical advice. They will tell you what the best course of action is for you and your body, and they will also ensure you don’t have to deal with any of the potentially severe side effects of taking DayQuil.

Nate Devore
Nate Devore
For over 15 years Nate has been obsessed with solving his own personal and difficult health challenges related to sleep, energy, and fatigue. As one of our sleep experts at, Nate is passionate about helping you get the best night’s sleep possible.

Medical Disclaimer: The content on this page should not be taken as medical advice or used as a recommendation for any specific treatment. Always consult your doctor before making any decisions.

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