Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Melatonin?
Medically Verified: 2/1/24
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
Alcohol is a normal part of many people’s lives. When you celebrate something, whether it’s a birthday, wedding, or personal achievement, alcohol is usually involved. While it is fine to consume alcohol in moderation, some people do not consider the potential risks of using it with other substances.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime.”
You shouldn’t mix alcohol with other drugs and even certain psychiatric medications. However, you might not even think about the possible reactions that could occur when you mix alcohol with over-the-counter drugs. Melatonin, a seemingly harmless and natural sleep aid, is one of those substances you should not mix with alcohol.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness. It helps with the timing of your circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock) and with sleep. It is one of the most popular over-the-counter sleep aids.
Melatonin is actually the chemical released by your brain naturally when it perceives that it is time to sleep. In other words, melatonin is our brain’s natural sleep aid. If you are exposed to light at night, your brain may not release melatonin, causing you to have trouble sleeping.
Melatonin is also available over the counter for individuals who suffer from sleep issues. This medication can help with the following issues:
- Jet lag
- Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder
- Certain sleep disorders in children
- Anxiety before surgery
While melatonin is a great sleep supplement for people who struggle with occasional sleep issues, if you suffer from insomnia you may require prescription medications to experience relief.
Melatonin Side Effects
Because melatonin is a substance that naturally occurs in your body, it is generally safe to take when compared to other sleep aids. For example, some sleep medications are habit-forming and addictive. Melatonin use produces no risks of dependency or addiction, even in the long term.
You may experience some side effects when you take melatonin. Higher doses are associated with more severe side effects. The most common side effects of melatonin include:
- Daytime drowsiness
Because melatonin is intended to cause drowsiness and help you sleep, you should never take this substance before driving or operating heavy machinery. Some people experience the less common side effects of melatonin, which include:
- Vivid dreams or nightmares
- Short-term feelings of depression
- Stomach cramps
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Decreased appetite
- Urinary incontinence at night
- Increased risk of falls and seizures
- Confusion or disorientation
- Mood swings
- Reduced alertness
What Happens if You Take Melatonin After Drinking Alcohol?
There are a few substances that melatonin may react negatively with. Some of the medications you should never mix with melatonin without consulting a doctor include:
- Medicine that prevents blood clotting
- Seizure medications
- Birth control medicine
- High blood pressure medicine
- Diabetes medicine
- Medicine that suppresses the immune system (immunosuppressants)
- Medicine that is broken down by the liver
Another substance that you should never mix with melatonin is alcohol.
While there is little research on the reactions between melatonin and alcohol, both substances are known to cause drowsiness, so taking them together can make you extra drowsy.
Alcohol disrupts your sleep-wake cycle, while melatonin is meant to promote it. This means that consuming alcohol while taking melatonin could completely negate the positive effects of the supplement, further preventing you from being able to sleep.
Dangers of Mixing Melatonin and Alcohol
Even though melatonin is a substance that naturally occurs in your body, mixing it with alcohol can be dangerous. Drinking alcohol can either prevent the melatonin from working or substantially increase the effects. This drug combination can also cause cognitive impairment at a dangerous level.
When mixed with alcohol, melatonin can cause the following effects:
- Increased heart rate
- Redness of the face
- Swelling in your hands or feet
- Increased feelings of anxiety or irritability
- Vivid dreams and nightmares
- Poor sleep quality
- Confusion or inability to think effectively
Another danger of mixing melatonin and alcohol is the increased drowsiness you could experience. Because alcohol can prevent melatonin from helping you sleep, the increased effects of drowsiness could cause you to experience falls or injuries. Additionally, when you are taking two substances that increase drowsiness, you could begin to experience difficulties breathing or suddenly become unconscious.
Because of the potential risks of mixing melatonin and alcohol, you should avoid consuming any alcoholic beverages when you plan on taking melatonin supplements. Everyone is affected by alcohol differently, so even one or two drinks could cause you to experience negative effects.
Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Today
If you or a loved one struggle with alcohol abuse or alcoholism, help is available. Long-term alcohol addiction can lead to an array of life-threatening medical complications, including liver disease and failure. An alcohol rehab center can provide you with the tools and support you need to recover.
Contact Carolina Center for Recovery today to speak with an admissions counselor about finding the best treatment option for you.