Melatonin and Alcohol

Can You Take Melatonin With Alcohol?

It’s best to take melatonin supplements with no alcohol in your system. If you’ve had alcohol to drink, wait for at least two to three hours after your last drink to take this specific sleep aid.

Possible 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

Melatonin is metabolized by your liver. Therefore, mixing melatonin and alcohol may disrupt the way your liver produces enzymes, which may lead to the adverse physical reactions listed above. 

interactions

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in the pineal gland. Melatonin functions to regulate 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

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. They are a natural sleep aid used to treat insomnia and other sleep problems by regulating your circadian rhythm. Taking melatonin boosts your sleep cycle, causing you to fall asleep faster and fall into a deeper sleep.

People who have trouble falling asleep or wake up constantly throughout the night may benefit from taking melatonin.

How to Use Melatonin Safely

Over 3 million adults in the U.S. use melatonin. It is typically recommended for people who experience insomnia, are undergoing jetlag, or 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 FDA considers melatonin a dietary supplement, meaning 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.

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. 

Melatonin should not be used if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding. You should also avoid it if you have an autoimmune disorder, are prone to seizures, or have depression. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, you should speak with your doctor before taking melatonin. It also may have adverse effects, such as increased blood sugar levels, if you are taking hypertension medication. 

If melatonin does not have positive effects on your sleep-wake cycle after a week or two of use, you should stop taking it and speak to your doctor.

sideeffects

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 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 the adverse effects of hypertension medications, other sleeping pills that contain zolpidem, and blood thinners such as warfarin. Research is limited on these potential side effects. However, you should 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. While having a drink or two before bed may help you fall asleep faster, 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, the inability to focus, and irritability the next day. Prolonged use of alcohol to induce sleep may lead to an alcohol use disorder.

Resources

Andersen, Lars Peter Holst et al. “The Safety of Melatonin in Humans.” Clinical drug investigation vol. 36,3 (2016): 169-75. doi:10.1007/s40261-015-0368-5

Hack, Lisa M et al. “The effects of low-dose 0.5-mg melatonin on the free-running circadian rhythms of blind subjects.” Journal of biological rhythms vol. 18,5 (2003): 420-9. doi:10.1177/0748730403256796

Otmani, S 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 vol. 23,8 (2008): 693-705. doi:10.1002/hup.980

Matsumoto, M et al. “The amplitude of endogenous melatonin production is not affected by melatonin treatment in humans.” Journal of pineal research vol. 22,1 (1997): 42-4. doi:10.1111/j.1600-079x.1997.tb00301.x

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 (2008): 127-33. doi:10.1111/j.1600-079X.2007.00499.x

Conroy, Deirdre A et al. “Dim light melatonin onset in alcohol-dependent men and women compared with healthy controls.” Chronobiology international vol. 29,1 (2012): 35-42. doi:10.3109/07420528.2011.636852

Updated on: September 22, 2020
Author
Michael
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Medically Reviewed: August 7, 2020
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Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
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