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Melatonin & Alcohol: Interactions, Safety & Recommendations

Melatonin and alcohol are two of the most common substances that people turn to when they can’t get a good nights sleep.

But are melatonin and alcohol good for you? Can you actually take them together? And is it all safe? Let’s dig in.

Key Takeaways

  • Alcohol reduced REM sleep across the board and will hurt your nightly recovery regardless of the sleep aid you take.
  • Side effects of both alcohol and melatonin individually can be compounded when taken together.
  • If drinking alcohol, be sure to rehydrate and consider supplementing with a more natural sleep aid.
  • While available OTC, you should speak to your doctor before deciding to supplement with melatonin.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body that helps govern your circadian rhythms. It is also maybe the most popular sleep aid out there on the market and dosed in amounts typically 1-5mg/night - although some people often take 20mg at a time (which we

We’ve written about melatonin quite a bit around here - and we’re not fans - mostly for the dosage amounts and the litany of side effects that come with it. If you take it - do so cautiously and definitely avoid alcohol while doing so.

What Is Alcohol?

We probably don’t need to cover this, but just in case you’re wondering - we’re talking bout primarily:

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Liquor

While some alcohol will give you less of a hangover than others - any amount of alcohol will reduce the quality of your night’s sleep, hurt your recovery and reduce the amount of REM sleep you get on a nightly basis.

In short, if you consume alcohol - don’t expect to get a great night’s sleep.

Any alcohol will reduce the amount of REM sleep you get on a nightly basis and trying to counteract that with melatonin won’t do much (besides knock you out and maybe make you physically uncomfortable).

Can you take melatonin with alcohol?

While people certainly have mixed melatonin with alcohol, we don’t recommend it by any means.

We already mentioned that alcohol will drastically reduce your REM sleep and trying to counteract that with melatonin won’t do much (besides knock you out and maybe make you physically uncomfortable).

But you’re a daredevil, we get it - so what happens if you decide to do it anyways?

What happens when you mix melatonin and alcohol?

Again, we don’t recommend this, but users that have taken these after each other some times report the following side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • Poor sleep
  • Limited REM sleep
  • Brain fog
  • Difficulties breathing

Both alcohol and melatonin are metabolized by your liver so you may see that melatonin doesn’t even effect you in the same way as alcohol can reduce it’s effectiveness as they’re both using the same metabolic processes

How long after taking melatonin can you drink alcohol? (Or vice versa).

Because of the half life of melatonin, you should wait a few hours after taking melatonin before consuming alcohol (although you should be asleep by then!).

If you’re trying to do the reverse, remember because both elements are metabolized in your liver, you should wait 2-3 hours after your last drink of the night in order to take melatonin (if you take it at all).

Editors note: Because of the side effects associated with melatonin, we recommend a more natural sleep aid.

Deaths from Melatonin & Alcohol

While we don’t recommend this combination (for the 100th time), many people exaggerate the claims that people have died from the combination of both.

From our research, we have found no recorded deaths from the use of melatonin and alcohol.

Often, melatonin is swept into the larger “sleeping pills” discussion and plenty of people have died from mixing these sleeping pills and alcohol at the same time.

You’ll see these types of pills like:

  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Ambien or similar patented drugs.

These sleeping pills are often prescription and just that - pills - and are very dangerous to mix with alcohol (never do this). But they are not melatonin. These are important distinctions to make.

Combining Alcohol with Sleep Medications

In general, if you’re using sleep medications, you should refrain from combining them with alcohol.

While there can be a litany of real effects, mixing substances like alcohol with other sleep aids like ambien - can lead to bizarre episodes like the one Rosanne found herself in.

The verdict: stay away from mixing sleep medications - including melatonin - with alcohol. If you’re going to drink alcohol, you’re better off supplementing with some electrolytes to rehydrate yourself and a sleep drink mix like Impossible Sleep.

Alternatives to Melatonin & Alcohol For Sleep

If you’re looking for an alternative to using either melatonin or alcohol (or both) as a sleep aid, we highly recommend a natural sleep cocktail like this one. Natural ingredients like magnesium and l-theanine are much gentler on your body, promote rest and will help you wake up the next day feeling recovered rather than hungover.

Resources & Citations

If you want to read more on how melatonin and alcohol interact, check out some of the following resources.

Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash