For anyone having consistent sleep problems, the term melatonin is most likely familiar. By many of you, alcohol consumption is also considered to be useful if you have trouble sleeping. Due to this, some of us might assume that mixing melatonin and alcohol will raise the odds of falling asleep easily.
We’re going to disappoint you. It doesn’t.
While melatonin might be a perfect over-the-counter drug for falling asleep more easily, some studies show a lack of proof for its potency. At the same time, the chances of overdose on melatonin are relatively high if you take it on your own and don’t consult with a healthcare professional. Melatonin isn’t lethal, but it certainly has some negative side effects.
On the other hand, alcohol, despite its abilities as a sedative, may disrupt your circadian rhythm and continuously worsen your sleep quality.
Therefore, in this article, we’ll take a closer look at both alcohol and melatonin, and we’ll answer the question: can you mix melatonin and alcohol?
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced from tryptophan in the pineal gland in the human brain. It’s responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle in the human body and sends signals to the body when it’s time for sleep. Many things can cause disruption and even blockage of melatonin production, such as exposure to light at night such as blue light from your TV, smartphone, laptop, etc.
People often use melatonin supplements as a sleep aid to fall asleep quicker. Over-the-counter melatonin supplements can be convenient and quicker than prescribed sleeping aids. Although melatonin supplements are safe to use, you shouldn’t lean on them for the long term as there isn’t enough research on its long-term effects when used daily.
Melatonin supplements help manage sleep disorders, such as jet lag, insomnia, the resynchronization of the sleep-wake cycle, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD), and other sleep problems.
Common Side Effects of Melatonin
There is no proof that melatonin can cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms, but you should use melatonin supplements with caution. Here are some of the common side effects of melatonin supplements:
- Nausea. This side effect of melatonin supplements usually occurs in people who use improper doses of melatonin, and it can sometimes occur in people who just started using melatonin supplements.
- Daytime drowsiness and sleepiness. If you take melatonin supplements, you can feel drowsy and sleepy during the daytime. Drowsiness and sleepiness during the daytime can be potentially dangerous.
- Vivid dreams and nightmares. Frequent and high consumption of melatonin supplements can disrupt or raise the nighttime activity of your brain, which can result in extremely vivid dreams and frequent nightmares.
- Decreased temperature of your body. The natural production of melatonin induces healthy sleep along with decreasing your body temperature. The same occurs when you use melatonin supplements, but if the dosage isn’t correct, it can result in hypothermic effects, which can be very dangerous.
There are some concerns that melatonin supplements can aggravate side effects of high blood pressure medications, namely, pills that contain zolpidem, blood thinner medications like warfarin, and others.
Mixing Melatonin and Alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant of the human nervous system. In many cases, alcohol seems to have a similar effect to melatonin. Both melatonin and alcohol can cause drowsiness and can slow down some body processes. Therefore, if you take them together, it’s a very dangerous combination – it’s never a good idea.
Melatonin and Alcohol Interaction Side Effects
Potential side effects of melatonin and alcohol interaction are:
- Trouble breathing. The interaction of melatonin and alcohol can cause your throat muscles to loosen up. This will make your normal breathing a little bit harder, and even short-term breathing difficulties can result in other health problems.
- Sleep problems. Even though melatonin supplements are supposed to help you easily fall asleep, their interaction with alcohol may have an opposite effect.
- Cardiac function and heart rate problems. Mixing melatonin and alcohol can lead to cardiac dysfunction. You can find that your heart rate is reduced to a point lower than clinically safe. This is especially dangerous for individuals who have existing problems with their heart, such as chronic or congestive heart failure or other problems with the cardiovascular system.
- Drowsiness. Melatonin and alcohol increase drowsiness, which makes operating heavy machinery, driving, and focusing while doing sensitive activities quite difficult.
- Anxiety. Melatonin and alcohol interaction can cause anxiety, which usually results in increased irritability and increased blood pressure.
- Other symptoms. Other symptoms of mixing melatonin and alcohol are flushing your face, dizziness, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and swollen feet and ankles.
Melatonin and Alcohol Interaction Complications
Apart from the previously mentioned side effects of melatonin and alcohol interaction, some severe side effects can occur from the interaction of these two substances. These severe side effects occur in the liver and heart mainly from the constant use of melatonin with alcohol, which inhibits the ability of the organ to function and creates certain essential enzymes that your body needs.
Possible complications from mixing melatonin and alcohol are:
- Shivering and feeling cold;
- Drowsiness and fatigue;
- Increased anxiety and irritability level;
- Sudden passing out and unconsciousness;
- Increased heartbeat;
- Rashes and redness in your face;
- Swollen ankles, feet, and hands;
- Risk of falling;
- Experiencing difficulties with concentrating, thinking, or focusing;
- Vivid dreams and nightmares;
- Nausea and severe headaches.
The complications from mixing melatonin and alcohol are more significant with breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women, and it can even affect the baby. Interaction of melatonin and alcohol affects people with other health conditions like diabetes, increased blood pressure, and bleeding disorders.
Still, death from melatonin and alcohol interaction is very rare. Even if it happens, it would most likely be due to the underlying health conditions or the total amount of alcohol the person has drunk. The over-the-counter melatonin supplement is relatively safe and isn’t lethal, even if the melatonin level is really high.
How to Take Melatonin if You Drink Alcohol?
The things that we mentioned above aren’t supposed to scare you in order to stop consuming alcohol totally. The important thing is just don’t mix melatonin with alcohol. You can still enjoy a drink or two, even when you use melatonin supplements.
If you want to take melatonin supplements, it’s important you do it at least two or three hours after you’ve had your last glass of alcohol.
It isn’t recommendable to take melatonin supplements before drinking alcohol because the chances it’ll mix with the alcohol and cause side effects are very high. This can also disrupt your sleeping pattern for the night.
So, all things considered, can you mix alcohol and melatonin? The answer is firmly no; it’s not recommended at all. Both alcohol and melatonin are considered as sedatives, but combining them is bad for your health and can cause many negative side effects.
Instead of getting a good night’s sleep, you may end up with a restless night of tossing and turning at best and serious health side-effects at worst. Always make sure to consult your healthcare provider for professional medical advice before taking any supplements, including natural sleep aids like melatonin.