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Melatonin and Alcohol

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Can You Take Melatonin With Alcohol?

You should not take melatonin with alcohol in your system.

If you’ve had alcohol to drink, wait at least two hours to take this sleep aid.

Possible negative side effects of mixing melatonin and alcohol include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Swelling of extremities
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Fall risks
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep
  • Irritability
  • Passing out

In addition to these side effects, there is an additional risk of liver problems. Mixing melatonin and alcohol can affect your liver's ability to produce enzymes.

This can lead to serious adverse effects like breathing problems, swelling in your feet, rapid heartbeat, trouble focusing, and fainting.

Also, combining alcohol and melatonin can negate the effects of melatonin.

Alcohol decreases your body's ability to get REM sleep. This can essentially "cancel out" melatonin's benefits, which typically enhances the normal sleep cycle.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in the pineal gland. Melatonin regulates your sleeping pattern.

It typically starts to get released around 9 pm, and levels steadily rise until 1-3 am. Higher melatonin levels make you drowsy and also put you in a deeper state of sleep. 

Melatonin supplements are available over-the-counter in the United States. In the UK and other countries, it is only available when prescribed by a doctor.

It is a natural sleep aid for insomnia and other sleep problems. It helps by regulating your circadian rhythm.

Melatonin supplements boost your sleep cycle, causing you to fall asleep faster and deeper.

Melatonin

Melatonin may help you if you have trouble falling asleep, wake up throughout the night, or suffer from a sleep disorder.

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How to Use Melatonin Safely

Doctors recommend taking 1 to 3 milligrams two hours before you go to bed.

Dimming the lights in your house helps to stimulate your natural melatonin production. Avoid blue light and bright screens before bedtime. During the day, be sure to get enough light by sitting near windows or taking walks outside. 

Over 3 million adults in the U.S. use melatonin. It is typically recommended for people who:

  • Experience insomnia
  • Are undergoing jetlag
  • Need to fall asleep and wake up earlier

Each brand of melatonin will have its own set of instructions on the label, and you should use it as suggested. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers melatonin a dietary supplement. This means it is not strictly regulated, and the medical benefits are not officially FDA-approved.

It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider to determine whether melatonin is right for you.

You should not use melatonin, or speak with your doctor if you:

  • Are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Have an autoimmune disorder
  • Are prone to seizures
  • Have depression
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have diabetes
  • Take hypertension medication

If melatonin does not help your sleep-wake cycle after a week of use, stop taking it and speak to your doctor.

Melatonin Side Effects

Melatonin is generally considered a safe sleep aid. Most people who use melatonin will not experience adverse side effects.

It has not been shown to cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms. However, it should still be used with caution. 

Common side effects of melatonin include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased body temperature

There have been other concerns that melatonin can increase adverse effects of:

  • Hypertension medications
  • Sleeping pills that contain zolpidem
  • Blood thinners such as warfarin

Research is limited on these potential side effects. Consult your doctor before taking melatonin if you’re taking any other medications.

Alcohol’s Effects on Sleep

In addition to interacting with melatonin, drinking alcohol has negative impacts on your sleep patterns.

Having a drink or two before bed may help you fall asleep faster. But even moderate alcohol use can reduce your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

REM sleep is the deepest sleep you can reach and is the most rejuvenating sleep you can get.

Alcohol’s interference with REM sleep time can cause daytime drowsiness, focus problems, and irritability the next day.

Prolonged use of alcohol to induce sleep may lead to an alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol also decreases the amount of melatonin your body produces naturally.

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7 Tips for Getting Better Sleep

Poor sleep can have negative effects on your brain function, hormone production, and physical performance. It can also increase your risk of diseases and cause weight gain. Getting a good night's sleep is a crucial component of becoming healthier or losing weight.

Here are 7 tips for getting better sleep:

1. Regulate your sleep pattern

Your body has a natural circadian rhythm. Establishing a routine for your sleep and wake cycle can improve your long-term sleep quality.

2. Get bright light exposure during the day

Natural sunlight and blue light exposure throughout the day help regulate your circadian rhythm. This increases your daytime energy and the quality of your sleep.

3. Decrease blue light exposure before bed

Blue light exposure in the evening can interfere with your body's natural melatonin production. Reducing screen time can help regulate your melatonin production and sleep quality.

4. Avoid caffeine after 3 pm

Most people in the U.S. consume caffeine. Small amounts can be beneficial, or are at least rarely harmful. However, consuming any amount 6 hours before bed can decrease the quality of your sleep significantly.

5. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol disrupts natural melatonin production and disrupts your sleep patterns. Alcohol abstinence is the best way to ensure it does not affect sleep quality.

6. Don't eat before bed

Eating late at night can cause poor sleep and disrupt hormone production.

7. Exercise regularly

Exercise improves your overall health, including your sleep quality. However, some people may find that exercising later in the day may keep them up at night. This is due to the production of adrenaline and epinephrine.

Melatonin & Alcohol FAQs

Is it OK to take melatonin every night?

Yes, it is safe to take melatonin every night. However, this should only be done short-term. There is little research available on the long-term effects of daily melatonin use.

Does alcohol affect melatonin production?

Yes, research indicates that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce melatonin production by 15% to 19%.

Will I die if I mix melatonin and alcohol?

You will not die from mixing melatonin and alcohol. However, negative side effects can occur if you mix melatonin and alcohol.

Takeaways

In summary:

  • It is not safe to mix melatonin and alcohol; doing so may cause potentially dangerous health effects
  • Melatonin is considered a safe, natural sleep aid, but you should speak with your doctor before taking an over-the-counter supplement
  • Alcohol can significantly decrease the quality of your sleep; avoid alcohol consumption to get better sleep
  • Good sleep is crucial to overall health
  • Regulate your sleep patterns, exercise regularly, and pay attention to your circadian rhythm to improve your quality of sleep
Updated on March 28, 2022
8 sources cited
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  6. Wirtz, Petra H et al. “Oral melatonin reduces blood coagulation activity: a placebo-controlled study in healthy young men.” Journal of pineal research vol. 44,2 : 127-33. doi:10.1111/j.1600-079X.2007.00499.x, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18289163/
  7. Conroy, Deirdre A et al. “Dim light melatonin onset in alcohol-dependent men and women compared with healthy controls.” Chronobiology international vol. 29,1 : 35-42. doi:10.3109/07420528.2011.636852, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51979910_Dim_Light_Melatonin_Onset_in_Alcohol-Dependent_Men_and_Women_Compared_with_Healthy_Controls
  8. Rupp, Tracy L et al. “Evening alcohol suppresses salivary melatonin in young adults.” Chronobiology international vol. 24,3 : 463-70. doi:10.1080/07420520701420675, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17612945/

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