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Updated on September 15, 2023
4 min read

Melatonin and Alcohol

Can You Take Melatonin with Alcohol?

You shouldn't take melatonin with alcohol in your system. Both melatonin and alcohol have sedative effects. Combining them can amplify each other’s side effects while reducing melatonin’s effectiveness. 


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Mixing Melatonin and Alcohol

Side effects of taking melatonin with alcohol include:

  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Swelling of extremities
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sleep apnea
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Fall risks
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep quality 
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Passing out

Mixing alcohol with melatonin can also affect your liver's ability to produce enzymes, increasing the risk of liver problems.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the brain and regulates your sleeping patterns. It's produced in the pineal gland, releases around 9 p.m., and rises steadily until 1 to 3 a.m.

Higher melatonin levels make you drowsy and put you in a deeper sleep state. Melatonin supplements are available as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug in the U.S. In other countries, it's only available as a prescription.

Melatonin is a natural sleep aid for insomnia and other sleep problems. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, melatonin may help.


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Who Is at Risk When Combining Alcohol and Melatonin?

Certain people are at risk when combining alcohol and melatonin, including those who:4

  • Take blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Take anti-anxiety medications such as alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Take other OTC sleep medicine
  • Are 65 or older

Women are also at risk when combining alcohol and melatonin because they can reach a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than men. The higher BAC means more alcohol will be available to interact with medications in their system.

How Long Should I Wait To Take Melatonin After Drinking?

It’s best to take melatonin when there’s no alcohol in your body. You can also take it if it’s been long since your last drink. Generally, you should wait 2 to 3 hours after your last drink before you take melatonin.


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Alcohol’s Effects on Sleep

In addition to interacting with melatonin, drinking alcohol negatively impacts your sleep patterns. Alcohol disrupts the circadian rhythm, interfering with your body’s ability to synchronize its biological clock. 

Circadian rhythms are the 24-hour cycle of the body’s internal clock. It helps regulate essential cognitive functions, metabolism, and sleep.

Alcohol's effect on sleep can cause:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Focus problems
  • Irritability the following day
  • Decrease in natural melatonin production

Does Moderate Drinking Affect Sleep?

Moderate alcohol use can also affect your sleep cycle by reducing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is the deepest sleep you can reach and is the most rejuvenating sleep you can get. 

It's important in: 

  • Dreaming
  • Memory retention
  • Emotional processing
  • Healthy brain development

How Does Alcohol Affect People with Insomnia?

Many people use alcohol to help them sleep, often due to its sedative effects. However, alcohol affects REM sleep, which can cause sleep disorders, disturbances, and problems.

Even if alcohol makes you fall asleep easier, you'll still feel sleepy the next day. Drinking alcohol regularly to help with insomnia can lead to alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder (AUD).

How To Use Melatonin Safely

Doctors recommend taking 1 to 5 milligrams 2 hours before bed.9 Each brand of melatonin will have its own set of instructions on the label, and you should use it as suggested. 

Melatonin is typically recommended for people who:

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

Additionally, melatonin is sometimes used to manage headaches.

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, you should still use it with caution. 

Common side effects of melatonin include:

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

Melatonin Interactions with Other Drugs

There have been other concerns that melatonin interacts with other medications, increasing 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 healthcare provider before taking melatonin if you take other medications.

When Should You See a Doctor for Insomnia?

You should consider seeing a doctor for your insomnia if you experience the following:

  • Insomnia symptoms lasting longer than 4 weeks
  • Insomnia interferes with your day-to-day activities and responsibilities
  • Excessive heartburn at night
  • Sleep disturbances from physical pain
  • An uncomfortable, painful sensation in your legs
  • Changes in mood or depression
  • Lack of energy or appetite
  • Worsening chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Worsening mood or dangerous thoughts (suicidal thoughts)

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


Drinking alcohol while taking melatonin supplements can reduce melatonin’s effectiveness and exacerbate side effects. It can cause extreme drowsiness, poor sleep quality, and liver damage.

Alcohol disrupts sleep cycles by affecting your circadian rhythm and REM sleep. Using alcohol as a sleep aid can lead to a sleep disorder or addiction.

Melatonin on its own is generally considered safe. However, you should contact a doctor if you’re experiencing breathing problems, fatigue, and other adverse side effects.

Updated on September 15, 2023
9 sources cited
Updated on September 15, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Andersen et al. “The Safety of Melatonin in Humans.” Clinical Drug Investigation, 2016.
  2. Hack et al. “The effects of low-dose 0.5-mg melatonin on the free-running circadian rhythms of blind subjects.” Journal of Biological Rhythms, 2003.
  3. Otmani et al. “Effects of prolonged-release melatonin, zolpidem, and their combination on psychomotor functions, memory recall, and driving skills in healthy middle aged and elderly volunteers.” Human Psychopharmacology, 2008.
  4. Harmful Interactions.” National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse, 2014.
  5. Kurhaluk, N., and Tkachenko, H. “Melatonin and Alcohol-Related Disorders.” Chronobiology International, 2020.
  6. Wirtz et al. “Oral melatonin reduces blood coagulation activity: a placebo-controlled study in healthy young men.” Journal of Pineal Research, 2008.
  7. Conroy et al. “Dim light melatonin onset in alcohol-dependent men and women compared with healthy controls.” Chronobiology International, 2012.
  8. Rupp et al. “Evening alcohol suppresses salivary melatonin in young adults.” Chronobiology International, 2007.
  9. Neubauer, D. “Pharmacotherapy for insomnia in adults. In R. Benca & J. G. Elmore (Eds.).” UpToDate, 2023.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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