Mixing Melatonin and Alcohol – Interactions – Side Effects

Mixing Melatonin and Alcohol

Is it safe to mix melatonin and alcohol together to help with sleep?

Melatonin is a hormone the body naturally produces, particularly at night. Its function is to regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm and to promote restful sleep.

Melatonin is available as a synthetic supplement in pill form and in a sublingual form, you place under your tongue. Find out what impact drinking alcohol can have on melatonin levels and whether the two are safe to take at the same time.

About Melatonin

Melatonin is popular as a sleep aid. It’s also used to readjust the sleep-wake cycle in people with jet lag related to travel across time zones. Although studies are limited, there is some evidence that melatonin helps the symptoms of jet lag and modestly improves sleep quality.

Some small studies suggest that taking melatonin as a supplement may decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. Melatonin supplements may also be beneficial for people who do shift work as it helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.

Melatonin and Alcohol Interactions

Many people assume that because melatonin is a natural supplement that it’s safe to use while drinking alcohol.

However, supplements can interact with other supplements, with food, and even with alcohol – and melatonin is no exception.

Drinking alcohol while taking melatonin can potentially lead to undesirable side effects. Since melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep, a common side effect is drowsiness.

Alcohol, especially at higher doses, causes sleepiness and drowsiness as well. Therefore, melatonin and alcohol in combination may have additive effects and lead to increased sedation.

These side effects are particularly risky for people who work a job that requires them to be awake and alert.

Melatonin and Alcohol Side Effects

Since alcohol potentially enhances the sedative effects of melatonin, drinking alcohol together with it isn’t a good idea, or even necessary since they can both cause drowsiness.

Melatonin and alcohol together may cause these possible adverse side effects:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Mild feelings of depression or sadness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Problems walking

Combining melatonin and even more alcohol may enhance or magnify these potential side-effects.

Always Err on the Side of Safety

It’s better to be safe than sorry so avoid combining melatonin and any type of alcoholic drinks together.

While some studies suggest that alcohol increases melatonin levels, others show that alcohol reduces circulating melatonin.

Taking melatonin and drinking liquor together could theoretically reduce the sleep-enhancing benefits of melatonin and make the supplement less beneficial.

More research is needed to determine the actual impact melatonin and drinking have on each other. The effects may vary with the dosage of melatonin, alcohol, the timing of each, and individual variations in how they are metabolized or broken down by each person.
 

References

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. (1993)

Röjdmark S, et al. Inhibition of melatonin secretion by ethanol in man. Metabolism. (1993)

Maldonado MD, Moreno H, Calvo JR. Melatonin present in beer contributes to increase the levels of melatonin and antioxidant capacity of the human serum. Clin Nutr. (2009)

RXList.com; “Melatonin”