A box of Aleve (naproxen sodium) capsules 220mg (NSAID), pain relief

Like other medicines, over-the-counter medications like naproxen or ibuprofen cause off-target (side) effects as well as on-target effects such as pain relief. However, you might have trouble tracking down the side effects of an OTC pill like naproxen. One reader wonders whether she is reacting to Aleve.

Is Drowsiness a Side Effect of Aleve?

Q. Can Aleve sometimes cause drowsiness? I only take one but later I find myself dozing off. Is there a hidden ingredient that causes this? Am I the only one who experiences this problem?

A. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as OTC ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (Aleve) or prescription products like diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), indomethacin (Indocin) and meloxicam (Mobic) can sometimes cause drowsiness, dizziness or confusion. This is not considered a common reaction, but it is not unknown.

You are not the only one who gets sleepy or spacey on medications like Advil or Aleve. A nurse who wrote to us several years ago reported that ibuprofen made her mentally foggy. She feared early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but found that stopping the NSAID improved her mental status.

Other Pain Relief Options:

We have prepared an online resource as a Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. When you read it, you will find a discussion of the pros and cons of medicines like prednisone and NSAIDs as well as a wide variety of non-drug approaches for easing joint pain.

Revised 9/18/17

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  1. Gerry

    Definitely Aleve makes me sleepy, I take one in the afternoon or evening sometimes as leg or back minor aches bother me, I don’t take it unless I know I can sleep if needed.

  2. AJM

    Can I feel sleepy using Aleve, you answered yes. Well for the past two weeks the every day aches and pains were getting the better of me, I was told to try Aleve. I started to notice less pain most of the time but the sleepiness has been getting annoying, and just no motivation as I usually have energy for two people. I will stop taking it for a while but hate going back to Advil every 3 to 4 hours. not looking forward to that.

  3. CB

    I find that taking Osteo Bi-Flex helps to alleviate arthritis pain on occasion. Are there any reports out there in regards to its safety?.

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