Does DayQuil Keep You Awake?

Is all you have in the medicine cabinet DayQuil and, because it’s nearly bedtime, you need to know if it will keep you awake?

The short answer is: no, DayQuil does not keep you awake. DayQuil does not contain caffeine or any other stimulant. It simply omits the antihistamine that is included in NyQuil, which can cause drowsiness. DayQuil is essentially the non-drowsy version of NyQuil.

Protip (if you are trying to stay awake with a cold): If you are using Dayquil and need an additional pick me up I use L-Theanine & Caffeine with Coconut MCT Oil (Link to Amazon), which helps me get over my cold faster and make the days more manageable.

Protip (if you are trying to sleep with a cold): If you are using Dayquil and can’t seem to sleep, it may be caused by the cold itself, while using NyQuil helps, I usually find using a diffuser with eucalyptus (link to Amazon) works the best.

The active ingredients in DayQuil, both the liquicaps and liquid, are acetaminophen for relieving pain and reducing fever, dextromethorphan for suppressing your cough, and phenylephrine hydrochloride to help with nasal congestion. Both products contain the same ingredients at the same dosages. The dextromethorphan, which can cause drowsiness, is not at a high enough dosage in DayQuil to cause that side effect.

Vicks offers a line of DayQuil Severe, too. DayQuil Severe liquicaps, liquid, and caplets, just as with the original DayQuil, do not contain the antihistamine, nor do they have a stimulant of any kind. They consist of the same three ingredients and dosages as the original formula, but also with the addition of the expectorant guaifenesin.

In other words, no matter what version of DayQuil we’re talking about, the answer remains the same. No form of DayQuil will “keep” you awake; they simply will not cause drowsiness.

How does NyQuil compare to DayQuil?

NyQuil liquicaps and liquid also contain the acetaminophen and nasal decongestant, but additionally, they include the antihistamine doxylamine succinate, which is the ingredient known to cause drowsiness.

The NyQuil liquicaps actually have five milligrams more of the cough suppressant compared to both forms of the DayQuil, while NyQuil liquid contains three times the amount of dextromethorphan. NyQuil liquid has twice the amount of acetaminophen than its liquicap counterpart and the two types of DayQuil.

Finally, NyQuil Severe liquid and caplets contain the same amounts of acetaminophen, cough suppressant, and nasal decongestant as the DayQuil Severe liquicaps and caplets, as well as the same amount of antihistamine as the original NyQuil liquicaps and caplets formula. NyQuil Severe liquid, however, has double the amount of acetaminophen, cough suppressant, and nasal decongestant found in the DayQuil Severe liquid, and doubles the amount of antihistamine found in all other NyQuil products.

In other words, NyQuil products tend to have the same or higher dosages of the ingredients as DayQuil products, with the addition of the antihistamine. The other takeaway is that the NyQuil liquid formulas are, by far, the strongest of the NyQuil products.

Sleep Aids Safe to Take with DayQuil

Perhaps the initial scenario I provided is exactly why you searched this, and you next wondered what you could safely pair with the DayQuil to help relieve your symptoms, as well as get a good night’s rest.

Melatonin is not known to have any interactions with the ingredients in DayQuil. If you’ve never heard of melatonin before, it’s a hormone known to help regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and can be consumed as a supplement to help with short-term sleep problems.

You could also try Valerian Root; these are sleep aid supplements made from the Valerian plant. Valerian Root is not known to have an interaction with DayQuil, though it does have interactions with other medications. Follow this link to check the list of known interactions against the list of other medications you take before trying it.

An article from Healthline provides a list of seven additional natural sleep aids: magnesium, lavender, passionflower, glycine, tryptophan, ginkgo biloba, and L-Theanine. I took the time to cross-check each of these for interactions with DayQuil at and determined that all would be safe to consume along with DayQuil.

Again, you should always check your current medications for interactions with other medications or supplements before adding them to your regiment. This can be easily done at or with a simple Google search.

I personally recommend OLLY Restful Sleep Gummies (from Amazon) as my go-to sleep aid. I have used it with Dayquil before (after checking that it was safe), and they worked great together! If you are looking for something to improve your sleep I highly recommend them!

No, Alcohol is NOT a Sleep Aid

Did I just hear someone’s bubble burst? #SorryNotSorry. I wanted to be sure to mention this because it is dangerous to combine alcohol with DayQuil. According to this article, taking alcohol with DayQuil can cause liver damage, among other things, and taking the two in high doses can result in “hallucinations, high blood pressure, and other dangerous side effects.”

Liver damage can occur due to the combination of acetaminophen and alcohol. Acetaminophen alone can be toxic to the liver, which is why combining it with alcohol increases the risk of liver damage. This is also why you should not take any additional acetaminophen when taking DayQuil, as too much acetaminophen is dangerous to your liver.

Dextromethorphan is also dangerous to mix with alcohol. Dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting are side effects of dextromethorphan, and alcohol can worsen them. The combination of the two can also result in liver damage, and combinations of high doses can even cause death.

Other Methods to Help You Sleep

Are you worried about being unable to fall asleep? Sleep tight with these good sleep hygiene practices!

A consistent schedule and bedtime routine

Not only does it help to have a regular schedule, i.e. getting up and going to bed at the same time each day, but it is also beneficial to have a bedtime routine. When our system is regulated by having a consistent schedule, our sleep-wake cycle is reinforced. A routine at bedtime will tell your body that it is nearing bedtime so you can begin to wind down. (Source)

Keep a quiet sleeping environment

Make your bedroom a calm and peaceful place. suggests using a white noise machine or earplugs to help drown out the noise. You should also shut down all electronics in your bedroom thirty minutes to one hour prior to bedtime.

Dark and cozy

Avoid light exposure, including the blue light emitted from technology, at least one hour before bed. Sunlight cues our brains to be awake and alert, and we need time to wind down before being able to fall asleep. Our brains register the blue light as sunlight, which is why it is equally important to remove exposure from it prior to bed. Healthline recommends using an eye mask or blackout curtains to help reduce the light.

No caffeine after lunch states that caffeine can stay in your system for up to twelve hours, depending on how susceptible you are to the substance. They recommend not consuming caffeine at least four to six hours prior to bed, so it’s usually a good rule of thumb to eliminate caffeine after lunch.

Time your meals, beverages, and exercises accordingly

You don’t want to be hungry or too full at bedtime, nor do you want to be making multiple trips to the restroom throughout the night after consuming too many fluids, so plan your meals and drinks wisely! (Source) Healthline encourages you to pay attention to how exercise affects your body; while it can help promote sleep, some people find it too stimulating and can’t exercise right before bed. suggests trying a more relaxing exercise, such as yoga, before bed.

Is it Safe to Take Caffeine with DayQuil?

Maybe you need to take some DayQuil and also need to stay awake. While DayQuil will not keep you awake, it is safe to consume caffeine with the medication. In fact, according to Everyday Health, caffeine is used in other products to increase the pain-relieving effects of acetaminophen, which, as mentioned above, is one of the active ingredients in DayQuil. So go ahead with that morning cup of joe… it could even be extra helpful today!

The Answer Was Supposed to be ‘YES’… I Need Help to Stay Awake!

Were you trying to apply the same logic people use for taking NyQuil to fall asleep, but with DayQuil to stay awake? First of all, that’s just plain a bad idea. You should never put any medications in your body that you don’t actually need. If you do this, please stop taking NyQuil to help yourself sleep. They make ZzzQuil now; stock up on some, or any of the other sleep aids discussed above!

Hydration helps keep you alert

Most of us have heard that you’re supposed to drink eight cups of water per day, but recent studies have shown we actually need more than that. According to the Mayo Clinic, women need eleven and a half cups of water per day, and men need fifteen and a half! More to the point, Healthline states that drinking enough water helps to keep you alert; dehydration can cause difficulty with concentration.

Have your caffeine boost earlier on in the day

Healthline also indicated it’s best to consume your caffeine at the beginning of the day for an energy boost, as having caffeine too late can cause issues with sleep. Try to keep your total amount of caffeine for the day at 400mg or less though, as that’s what is generally safe for most adults, per the Mayo Clinic. Four hundred milligrams is the equivalent of four brewed cups of coffee or ten cans of soda.

Now, please understand I’m not suggesting for a moment that it would be at all healthy to consume that much of either, especially the soda, in a day; I’m just letting you know what the healthy cap for caffeine reportedly is!

Snack healthy

Your attention and blood sugar will hold steady by eating healthy snacks throughout the day. You want to find snacks that contain a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Examples include peanut butter with whole wheat crackers, granola, yogurt, fruit, nuts, baby carrots, and cheese. You’ll want to avoid items made with added sugar (remember that soda issue we just discussed?) (Source)


Sitting too much can cause feelings of sleepiness. Get up and move when you’re feeling tired or needing an energy boost. According to one study completed by Robert Thayer, Ph.D., a ten-minute walk will increase energy for two hours. Interestingly, the short walk was compared to eating a candy bar, and those participants who ate the candy bar had a quick energy boost, but within an hour, felt more tired and had even less energy.

Light it up

Unfortunately, most indoor lights provide 100-1000 times less light than natural daylight, and because the majority of people spend 90% of their waking hours indoors, they’re not getting the light necessary to feel alert and awake during the day, according to Sunlight Inside. They recommend trying to get 20-30 minutes of time outdoors each morning to help boost your energy for the day. Healthline also suggests finding ways to increase the brightness in your environment as a method to increase alertness.

Energizing Aromas

Are you an essential oil user or candle burner? If so, you may really enjoy this option! A variety of fragrances boost energy levels. Here is a link to an essential oil community page with a plethora of oil combinations to combat fatigue. You could also find candles with these fragrances if you prefer.

If you’re looking for an essential oils diffuser I recently bought an excellent diffuser off of Amazon. I’ve been using it for 4 months now and it really helped give me that energy I needed throughout the day. It’s called the Ultimate Aromatherapy Diffuser (you can check the current price here), and it comes with the top 10 most commonly used essential oils that promote boosted energy levels.

Feel the beat

One final tip from Healthline is to play loud and energizing music. According to Science Alert, studies have found a variety of music types that this includes: sounds of nature, songs without lyrics, songs with an upbeat tempo, and songs played at a medium volume.

Additionally, there were two studies with conflicting results; one indicated you should listen to music you enjoy, while another suggested you should listen to music you’re ambivalent about, as music either strongly liked or disliked was too distracting. For this, I’d recommend being mindful about how these types of music are affecting you individually.

In Conclusion…

DayQuil is only a non-drowsy medication, not a stimulating, energizing one, which means you can take it at night and still sleep well. You have a variety of sleep aid options you could even try to pair with DayQuil to improve your sleep, and good sleep hygiene practices to employ. You also have a whole host of safe, healthy methods to boost your energy during the day. I hope this article was helpful and provided the information you were seeking!


  • Tiara is an avid sleeper and fully dedicated to her work and research. Most often this includes, but is not limited to, napping, testing how many hours in one night that she can sleep, trying new sleep methods and constantly changing sleep positions. Tiara's main focuses are on dreams and how we can achieve the best natural sleep possible. As a sufferer of insomnia and other sleep-related disturbances, Tiara loves to dig deep into the subconscious to ask all the questions that can help us better understand what happens when we sleep.

Tiara Croft

Tiara is an avid sleeper and fully dedicated to her work and research. Most often this includes, but is not limited to, napping, testing how many hours in one night that she can sleep, trying new sleep methods and constantly changing sleep positions. Tiara's main focuses are on dreams and how we can achieve the best natural sleep possible. As a sufferer of insomnia and other sleep-related disturbances, Tiara loves to dig deep into the subconscious to ask all the questions that can help us better understand what happens when we sleep.

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