Tips or tricks for making pills delayed *activation* (not extended delay)

Most all medications are created to being working soon after you take them. Some of them will last a short time, other will last a long time, but all seem like they start working as soon as you take them. I was wondering if there’s something I can do to a pill such that it will take longer to dissolve so that the effects of the medicine won’t kick in for a while.

In my specific situation, it’s to help with my middle-of-the-night insomnia. I can fall asleep with no problem, but I often wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble returning to sleep. Benadryl helps me go back to sleep, but it lasts too long if I end up taking it at 4am. I’m groggy in the morning. And if I take it when I go to bed, it does no good because it has worn off by the time my insomnia hits. What I instead would like is to take a Benadryl before I go to bed, but have it wait for an hour or two before it takes effect. This would mean the drowsy effect would kick in while I’m still sleeping and help keep me asleep instead of waking up at 4am. The alternative is often sleeping pills with longer durations, but I don’t need all-night long benefits and they can have undesirable side effects.

Is there something I can put the pill in that will take a long time to dissolve? Like maybe something like hardtack or hard candy which I can use to coat the pill and then swallow whole?

Obviously, the standard disclaimers apply about messing around with medication, advice is not from doctors, etc.

(Pharmacist speaking) In short, no, there isn’t.

If you’re having persistent insomnia, you need to see a doctor. There are RX drugs available that will do what you’re wanting Benadryl to do, but most doctors won’t prescribe them without trying something that isn’t as strong or as complicated, not to mention the addiction potential.

There are meds that don’t activate until they reach a certain part of your body. For example, colitis meds that travel intact through your stomach and small intestine, and then finally dissolve and release their active agents when they reach your colon. Sounds like you want something that will deploy when it is several hours in. A big dose of Metamucil might help.

??? he could buy something. Should I take it that your point is that he should not use something to convert his Benadryl to delayed release ???

Don’t they make a benadryl patch? That could work.

I actually do have some prescription sleep meds, but I’d prefer not to take them to avoid the side effects and potential for physical or psychological addiction to them. The one that I’m currently taking that lasts all night makes me feel a little high during the night. I had a different one that was a quick acting, short duration hypnotic like Ambien that I could take 4am, but it didn’t help me feel rested. It felt like I time-traveled from 4am to 7am. My best sleep is from Benadryl. When I don’t have an alarm in the morning and I take a Benadryl in the middle of the night, I get the best night of restful sleep I’ve ever had. But it’s no good to take it before bed because it doesn’t last long enough. So if I could just make it so that the Benadryl didn’t kick in until 2am or so, it would work great.

I don’t take sleep medication all the time. I have a variety of relaxation techniques I use to help me rest or go back to sleep. But if it’s been several days in a row with bad sleep, I’ll take something to get quality sleep. On the weekends that’s Benadryl, but during the week I have to take one of the prescription meds.

A google search reveals several places to buy empty delayed release capsules for making your own dietary supplements.

Thanks! I’ll see if any supplements in my local store say that they are delayed activation. I might be able to reuse their capsules and try it out myself.

That’s what I was thinking. Though to be honest, the first thing that popped into my mind was “I wonder if you stuck a benydril into a cube of cheese and swallowed it whole how long would that delay release?”

Have you tried half your normal Benadryl dose?

I typically do take just 1/2 of a dose (1 pill instead of 2). That works pretty well for me. Taking less doesn’t really make the effects shorter. Sometimes I’ll take just 1/4 of a dose if it’s closer to when the alarm goes off, but then the drowsy effect is weaker too.

It sounds weird, but have you considered setting an alarm to wake you up at the appropriate (to you) time to take a normal dose of Benadryl?

Clarification: Your morning alarm is set to 6:30, so if you take the Benadryl at 4:00, the alarm will go off too soon. You’re looking for an activation delay that will make the Benadryl start working at 1:00. My suggestion is to set a SECOND alarm to get you up at 1:00 so you can take the Benadryl then.
All times in the above clarification are pulled out of my butt. Insert the times that work for your real-world situation.

By a few seconds, most likely. :smiley:

I don’t think so, but even if they did, I assume it would have the same problem with immediate delivery. However, a delayed activation patch would probably be something that could actually be made. Rather than having the medicine right at the surface, they could have a certain level of buffer layers before the actual medicine. The more buffer layers, the longer it takes before the medicine can reach your skin and start to get absorbed. If a sleep medicine could be absorbed through the skin, this would be a great cure for people with middle of the night insomnia. They could put on the patch when they go to bed, and then several hours later the buffer layers are gone and the drug gets absorbed. They need to invent something like that.

That’s a unique solution, and would probably work out well. Likely I wouldn’t be awake too long. I may have to consider that if I can do it without waking up my wife.

A search on Amazon yields a variety of empty “enteric capsules” designed to pass through the stomach intact. You can fill them with whatever you want, I suppose even a smaller pill.

Look for a pillow alarm.

I ordered some of the empty capsules and tried them out by putting a Benadryl inside. I’ve tried it a few times and it seems to be working okay. If I wake up, it feels like I’m still under the drowsy effect and can go back to sleep easier. It says the capsules will be about a 50 minute delay. I’m not sure how accurate that is. I wish the delay was a little longer, but this may be a workable solution for now.

I have noticed that having a full stomach when I take my meds really delays their onset. It also draws out how long they work, but lessens the effect somewhat.