Melatonin and alcohol (The interaction)

melatonin and alcohol

The interaction between melatonin and alcohol is not what you think

In this blog post, you will read about the effects of alcohol on melatonin, and what is the role of melatonin.

Is taking melatonin and alcohol safe?

Alcohol is a sedative, and melatonin supplements help a person fall asleep more easily, so we could assume that if we take melatonin and alcohol we will fall asleep more easily, but this is not the case.

Doctors and pharmacists warn that concomitant use with fluvoxamine, alcohol, benzodiazepines/nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics, thioridazine and imipramine are not recommended.

Why? The answer is very simple: Avoid drinking alcohol at the same time as melatonin, as it reduces the effectiveness of melatonin in inducing sleep.

People also want to know if taking Lithium and alcohol together is safe ?

Melatonin and alcohol (The interaction)

What is melatonin and what is its role

Melatonin is a hormone derived from serotonin – “the hormone of happiness” – and has a role in regulating the circadian rhythm (the process of variation of physiological functions that occur daily in the body).

Melatonin, also known as the “dark hormone”, has an important role in initiating and maintaining sleep. It is produced in the body under the stimulation of darkness, during the synthesis process.

Melatonin synthesis

The presence of darkness or light is signalled to the pineal gland by the retina, which transmits information through the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus (a component of the large brain) and the sympathetic nervous system – part of the vegetative nervous system, responsible for reflex reactions we have when we feel that we are in danger. 

The pineal gland produces melatonin which is then transported in the blood.

In the morning, when the light appears, the brain begins to secrete cortisol, the body temperature gradually rises, and melatonin production decreases.

Melatonin synthesis also takes place in the bone marrow, leukocytes or epithelial cells, but also in plants such as tomatoes or cereals.

How melatonin works and what properties it has

Melatonin has several beneficial effects on the body. During rest, it prevents energy hormones from being active so that the body’s resources can be regenerated.

Also, between 2: 00-4: 00 in the morning, melatonin supports the reduction of the body’s internal temperature, due to the reduced blood circulation in its extremities. Furthermore:

it has an antioxidant character: it supports the structure of cells in the face of the action of free radicals and various disturbing factors;

supports the proper functioning of the endocrine system: melatonin provides support in the release of female sex hormones, in triggering the menstrual cycle and the onset of menopause;

supports the proper functioning of the immune system.

Melatonin and alcohol (The interaction)

How to use melatonin

Melatonin is used as a supplement in doses of 0.5-5 milligrams.

If it is desired to provide support in case of difficulty falling asleep, it is good that the first dose is 0.5 mg and then, if necessary and depending on the results, we can increase the dose.

The action of melatonin is not dependent on the dose used, so a higher dose does not mean that we will fall asleep faster.

It is recommended, however, that melatonin be administered approximately 30 minutes before bedtime so that it exerts its action.

Taking low-dose melatonin supplements is safe in both the long-term and short-term.

Other measures against insomnia

To win the fight against insomnia there are several solutions we can use, in addition to taking melatonin-based supplements.

What we consume has effects on our lifestyle and, implicitly, our sleep. If we face its disorders, it is good to give up consuming energizers and other products that contain caffeine because it prevents the installation of sleep.

You can also use a natural sedative, such as valerian. It provides support in reducing nervous conditions and allows relaxation, favouring the installation of sleep.

Chamomile can be, in turn, a variant to use when we have sleep problems because the apigenin it contains is an antioxidant that can support the reduction of anxiety and sleep onset.

With age, melatonin levels in the body decrease, which is one of the reasons why the elderly often face sleep disorders or need less sleep.

Children’s brains release the largest amount of melatonin, thus explaining why they sleep more than adults.

Melatonin and alcohol (The interaction)

Insomnia treatment

Treatment whether psychological, non-pharmacological or drug is extremely important.

Through sleep deprivation, the complications of insomnia are extremely serious and cause socio-familial disharmony, loss of labour productivity and can lead to accidents at work, domestic or road, and impaired normal functioning of the body.

Non-pharmacological treatment

It includes the means and methods intended to induce sleep and ensure the duration and comfort of a physiological sleep:

Sleep hygiene measures – It refers to the daytime lifestyle, the microclimate of the bedroom, food and drinks before bedtime.

Lifestyle – It consists of the detection and progressive elimination of all conditions that prevent the induction and maintenance of sleep.

Sleep-inducing activities – Reading a book, classical music, etc. should not exceed 30 minutes.

Daily exercise – For those with sedentary professional activities, daily exercise performed for 30-40 minutes can induce that pleasant physical fatigue necessary for sleep.

Sleep restriction – It is a therapeutic method that initially considers the substantial reduction of sleep, followed by its controlled prolongation. The treatment is done only with the approval and under medical supervision.

Insomnia psychotherapy – As well as cognitive-behavioural therapy, as well as relaxation therapies through self-hypnosis, progressive relaxation and deep breathing exercises, can be very helpful.

Complementary therapies – They include a very wide range of procedures and techniques, including acupuncture, acupressure, homoeopathy, natural treatments and aromatherapy.

Infusions of lime, verbena, chamomile, orange blossom and lemon balm teas have a calming effect.

However, the infusion should not be done every night.

Melatonin and alcohol (The interaction)

Pharmacological treatment

It is done individually on a case-by-case basis and is usually re-evaluated at two- to three-day intervals.

Hypnotics are first-line drugs. Due to the side effects and the high risk of addiction, they are generally prescribed several times a week and only for a few weeks.

Non-benzodiazepine compounds in combination with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antiepileptics are also used.

Most of the time, the drug therapy is combined with the initial psychotherapy, only to later make the transition only to exclusive psychotherapy or other non-pharmacological methods.

Do not try to treat yourself, make an appointment for a sleep consultation.

Recommendations for people with insomnia

  • Limit time spent in bed just for sleep.
  • Leave the bed when you do not feel asleep.
  • Improve the microclimate conditions of the bedroom (noise, light and temperature).
  • Have a small snack before bed, but avoid heavy food and drink before bed.
  • Avoid alcohol and stimulants (nicotine and caffeine).
  • Schedule your stressful activities many hours before bedtime; just a few hours before bed just relax.
  • Do not check your clock during the night.
  • Restrict your sleep.
Melatonin and alcohol (The interaction)

The bottom line about melatonin and alcohol

If you are taking melatonin, it is best to take it with no alcohol in your body or after a long time after you have had alcoholic beverages.

Depending on how much you had to drink, wait 2-3 hours before taking melatonin as a sleep aid.

Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally makes to help maintain a consistent sleep cycle.

This cycle is also known as your circadian rhythm. This is also sometimes called the “biological clock”.

Melatonin plays a major role in maintaining the sleep cycle. Your body produces most of it in the hours after sunset. 

Melatonin is also available as a nutritional supplement. You can buy it from almost any pharmacy or drugstore that sells supplements or medications.

It is often recommended as a sleep aid or as a quick remedy for jet lag or insomnia.

If you are suffering from insomnia, treatment whether psychological, non-pharmacological or drug is extremely important.

Through sleep deprivation, the complications of insomnia are extremely serious and cause socio-familial disharmony, loss of labour productivity and can lead to accidents at work, domestic or road, and impaired normal functioning of the body.

If you have questions, comments or recommendations, do not hesitate to let us know.

FAQ about melatonin and alcohol

Can you take melatonin after drinking?

You should not take melatonin after drinking. Alcohol reduces the effectiveness of melatonin in inducing sleep.

Will I die if I mix melatonin and alcohol?

You will not die if you mixed melatonin and alcohol, as alcoholic beverages cancel the effectiveness of melatonin.

Can you take melatonin every night?

Yes, you can take melatonin every night if it helps you sleep.

You cannot become addicted to melatonin supplements, as melatonin is a hormone already produced by your body. 

How long should you wait to take melatonin after drinking?

Depending on how much you had to drink, wait 2-3 hours before taking melatonin as a sleep aid.

What would happen if you took a whole bottle of melatonin?

If you took a whole bottle of melatonin you will become dizzy, cranky, you may have headaches or gastrointestinal problems, anxiety and fear.

You will not sleep faster, on the contrary, you may find it harder to fall asleep.

What are the negative effects of melatonin?

Some of the negative effects of melatonin include headaches, stomach cramps, daytime sleepiness, dizziness.

Recommendations

Relaxing Sounds Of The Ocean For Trouble Sleeping – Sound Therapy Masters

Nature Sleep Music Songs to Help You Fall Asleep and Overcome Insomnia with Soothing Sounds of Nature and Relaxing Music

Sleep Ambience, Natural Sleep Aid Music Zone, Trouble Sleeping Music Universe

Gentle Cure for Trouble Sleeping – Various artists

Trouble Sleeping?: Discover How to Get Better Sleep with These Effective Natural Sleep Remedies (How to Get to Sleep | How to Get Good Sleep), by Annabelle Nichols 

Clear Sounds of Nature for Fast Falling Asleep – Trouble Sleeping Music Universe, Sounds of Nature Relaxation, Deep Sleep

References

Therecoveryvillage.com

Medicalnewstoday.com

Reflectionsrehab.com

Healthline.com

Melatonin and alcohol (The interaction)

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.