Mixing Melatonin and Alcohol: Is It Safe?

What happens when you mix alcohol and melatonin?

Melatonin and alcohol are often misused to manage feelings of anxiety, restlessness and despair – but what happens when you mix the two?

Is mixing melatonin with alcohol safe? And if when mixed, are there any adverse effects? 

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the brain.  It contributes to regulating circadian rhythms in your body and signals to your body when it’s time to go to sleep – with peak production happening around sunset. Many things can disrupt and even block your body’s production of this hormone. Exposure to light at night – like blue light from electronic screens (computers, TVs, mobile phones, etc.). 

Melatonin supplements help people fall asleep faster or fall into a deeper sleep state. In the U.S., it is easily purchased from grocery stores or pharmacies. This over-the-counter solution can be a convenient and fast way to resolve sleep issues

And although it is safe to take melatonin, it should only be taken for short-term durations. There is little research available on the long-term effects of daily melatonin use. 

Melatonin supplements also help manage a sleep disorder like insomnia, jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD), the resynchronization of the circadian rhythm, and other sleep conditions.

It is best to consult your healthcare provider or talk to your doctor before taking melatonin supplements

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What Happens If You Combine Melatonin and Alcohol?

Alcohol is a sedative that can make people feel drowsy after one drink. Moderate alcohol use can disrupt your sleeping patterns, sleep quality, and affect your body’s ability to reach REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep– the deepest and most rejuvenating state of sleep you can achieve. Alcohol consumption can also cause the muscles around your airways to work differently, making it more difficult to sleep. This is worse if you already have breathing issues like sleep apnea

Alcohol also reduces the amount of melatonin that your body can produce naturally, so it can interrupt your sleep cycle on its own. 

It is best, therefore, to take melatonin supplements with zero alcohol in your system.

Taking melatonin and alcohol can have negative side effects on your health and be potentially dangerous. While some of the milder side effects of melatonin are: 

  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea 
  • and Sleepiness 

When mixed with alcohol, these can become more dangerous, including increased blood pressure and even breathing difficulties. Melatonin supplements are metabolized by your liver, meaning, the combination of melatonin and alcohol can lead to adverse physical reactions. 

Drinking alcohol while taking melatonin supplements may reduce melatonin’s effectiveness and exacerbate some of the milder symptoms of alcohol use and melatonin supplements like those listed above.

If you have consumed alcohol, it is best to wait for at least two to three hours after your last drink to take this sleep aid.

Risks and Complications of Alcohol and Melatonin Use

The risks and complications of alcohol and melatonin may also lead to adverse physical reactions. The potential side effects of melatonin supplements and the health complications and risks that arise from alcohol abuse greatly impact each other.

Potential side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Increased anxiety
  • Swelling
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Poor sleep
  • Irritability
  • Passing out
  • Brain fog and Fuzzy thinking 

As noted, your liver metabolizes melatonin. Taking melatonin with alcohol may disrupt the way your liver produces enzymes leading to the adverse physical reactions listed above.

Effects of Alcohol on Sleep

Although alcohol is a sedative, the reality is it can have unpredictable effects on our sleep cycles. It can have either a stimulating effect (increasing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) or, a sedating effect (inducing sleep). In addition, alcohol can disrupt your regular sleep patterns – even enough to create long-term issues such as:

  • Vivid dreams and nightmares
  • Sleepwalking and parasomnias
  • Trouble breathing

Moderate alcohol use reduces your REM sleep. Prolonged alcohol use to induce sleep may lead to alcohol use disorders. People with alcohol use disorders commonly experience insomnia symptoms; sleep disturbance is common among patients in remission from alcohol use.

To learn more about Riverside Recovery’s alcohol abuse detox treatment programs, reach out to our admissions team today. Our expert providers offer round-the-clock care and comfort to help get your recovery journey started off on the right foot.

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