nutrition

Can You Take Melatonin and Alcohol Together? Everything You Need to Know

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

5 min read

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Sleep deprivation is a serious problem, but is melatonin the answer? It may be a helpful part of the solution, but not if alcohol is involved.

Is it safe to mix melatonin and alcohol?

Alcohol often interferes with the effectiveness of many supplements and medications, and melatonin is one of them. Since the human body produces melatonin on its own, and it is commonly used as a natural sleep supplement, many people assume that it is safe to mix with alcohol. The truth, however, is that they are both sedatives, so the combination is something that should be avoided.

How melatonin affects your sleep

Melatonin, a hormone that is made in the pineal gland, induces drowsiness and sleep in response to darkness. While it doesn’t make you sleep, it puts you in a quiet state that helps you fall asleep. It has also been shown to lower core body temperature, which also plays a role in sleep. Light disrupts melatonin production, so it is often used by people doing shift work or those experiencing jet lag. Its primary use as a supplement is to support sleep and promote sleep regulation. Generally, a safe starting dose for adults is between 1 and 5 mg, though older adults may find doses lower than 1 mg to be effective. Care/of offers a Sleep Blend formula that contains 2.5mg of melatonin combined with Ashwagandha which have both been clinically studied for their positive impact on sleep. It is not recommended for long-term daily use as chronic sleep challenges may indicate other issues. Children should not take melatonin unless recommended by a physician.

How alcohol affects your sleep

Falling asleep under the influence isn’t the best path to a good night's sleep. It turns out that alcohol causes a reduction in sleep as the night (or early morning) passes. It can also contribute to increased body temperature and dehydration. Since it’s a diuretic, it can make you wake up throughout the night for extra trips to the bathroom. This study concludes that alcohol results in an increase of sleep disruptions in the second half of the night. And if you’re thinking about a nightcap to help you sleep, another study found that even a moderate amount of alcohol in the evening can suppress melatonin levels by 15% to 19%. Despite all the rumors to the contrary, alcohol does not help one sleep, or even fall more quickly for that matter. If anything, it worsens sleep, especially in the long run.

How does melatonin interact with alcohol?

There are no studies on the interaction of melatonin and alcohol, but, since they are both sedating, the combination of them can increase the potential risk of complications. For some, it can potentiate the sedative effects, while in others the sedative effects can be negated. The major safety concerns with taking alcohol and melatonin together include the possibility of extreme drowsiness (which can be especially problematic for those with breathing issues), passing out, dizziness, and risk of falling. Potential side effects can include poor sleep, irritability, intense dreams, increased anxiety, fast heartbeat, and foggy thinking. If taking melatonin after a few drinks, it is best to wait at least 2 to 3 hours from the time of your last drink.

Other ways to naturally improve sleep quality

One in five people in the United States sleep fewer than six hours per night. Over time, this seeming annoyance can turn into a health problem. If you are experiencing unexplained sleep deprivation on a regular basis, there are things you can do to get more sleep. You might want to start with your physician to see if there is an underlying condition causing the problem, or perhaps a medication that may need to be adjusted. Next, make sure your sleep environment is comfortable, dark, and quiet: in other words, get the TV, the tablet, and all related electronics out of the room. If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes or so, get out of bed for a bit and find something to distract yourself. If you exercise regularly, try doing it earlier in the day. If you don’t exercise, you might try to get some exercise on a daily basis. Watch your diet, avoiding caffeine, chocolate, anything that causes indigestion, and large meals before bedtime. Try herbal combinations like ashwagandha, valerian, and passionflower, or foods high in melatonin like tart cherries, milk, nuts, and eggs. Yoga, breathwork, and meditation have also proven to be quite helpful in reestablishing healthy sleep patterns. And if you still find yourself not sleeping well, consider consulting a sleep specialist. It could change your life.

Key takeaways

Sleep deprivation is a serious issue in today’s world. If you’re not getting enough sleep and are considering using melatonin as a sleep supplement, there are a few things you should know. It is not intended to be a long-term solution, rather something to get you to return to a healthy sleep pattern. It helps by putting you in the quiet state of mind and body that would be your body’s normal response to darkness. And it has sedative qualities, as does alcohol, so the combination of the two is not a good idea. If you do choose to supplement with melatonin, talk to your physician about it beforehand as there are things like interaction with other medications and possible side effects that need to be taken into consideration. Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences over the long haul. When all else fails, do not hesitate to see a sleep specialist.

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