Is It Safe to Combine Melatonin and Alcohol?

Emily Daw

It's generally not a good idea to combine melatonin and alcohol. Although they're both sedatives, using them together can disrupt normal, healthy sleep. Drinking can also increase the side effects of melatonin, especially drowsiness and headaches. Despite this, melatonin supplements are sometimes recommended as a sleep aid during alcohol withdrawal. Each of these substances can also have side effects when taken on their own, so people should speak with a medical professional before using them.

Combining melatonin and alcohol may result in a severe headache.
Combining melatonin and alcohol may result in a severe headache.

Effects of Melatonin and Alcohol Together

Most people feel very drowsy when using these two substances together. They may sleep fitfully for a while, experiencing periods of wakefulness in between vivid nightmares. Some people don't feel sleepy at all, and instead feel like they've taken a stimulant. If a person does sleep through the night, he or she may wake up feeling hung over. Taking even low levels of melatonin and alcohol can cause common hangover symptoms, including headaches, muscle pain, and dehydration.

People may experience vivid nightmares when combining melatonin and alcohol.
People may experience vivid nightmares when combining melatonin and alcohol.

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Effects of Melatonin

Melatonin is a chemical produced by the pineal gland that controls the natural cycles that signal the body when it is time to sleep and wake up. Insomnia and jet lag are often caused by an imbalance of this chemical, so taking it in supplement form can help correct this problem and promote sleep. Even when taken alone, this substance can have a range of side effects, including dizziness, nausea, and mood changes. Pregnant women, those trying to become pregnant, and children should not take it because of how it affects other hormones. It also raises blood pressure in some people, and so is not safe for those with hypertension.

Melatonin may ease some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, most notably insomnia.
Melatonin may ease some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, most notably insomnia.

Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is also a sedative, but contrary to common wisdom, it often doesn't actually improve the quality of sleep. After it's ingested, the body responds by producing adrenaline — a powerful natural stimulant. This may result in disrupted sleep, or deep sleep for a few hours followed by wakefulness. Heavy drinking over a long period of time intensifies this effect and may disrupt the body's ability to produce melatonin.

Melatonin, combined with alcohol, may cause exceptional drowsiness.
Melatonin, combined with alcohol, may cause exceptional drowsiness.

Melatonin for Withdrawal

While using melatonin and alcohol simultaneously is not recommended, some research indicates that taking melatonin supplements may ease some of the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal, especially insomnia. Other experts caution against it, however, saying that dependence on sleep aids during withdrawal may prevent the body from re-learning how to sleep naturally. Anyone with alcoholism should seek medical advice about the best way to handle the effects of withdrawal before taking any supplements.

Mixing melatonin and alcohol may cause hangover symptoms.
Mixing melatonin and alcohol may cause hangover symptoms.
Melatonin can help a person fall asleep.
Melatonin can help a person fall asleep.
Taking melatonin supplements and drinking alcohol can make some extremely drowsy.
Taking melatonin supplements and drinking alcohol can make some extremely drowsy.

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Discussion Comments


I don't find any sedative qualities in alcohol unless I drink in copious amounts (three normal beers or more). It's not pleasurable in the least to force down that much alcohol to get to sleep, in any form. There's a reason doctor's don't prescribe alcohol as sleeping medication.

I've tried drinking many times to sleep, and it does help. It makes you feel relaxed, and makes the time that passes by while you're still awake feel better -- and if anything this is the worst part about sleeping for me, staying awake over an hour in bed and not being able to sleep. I don't believe it increases the quality of your sleep however. I think drinking to fall asleep is a fine way to develop liver and heart disease or an alcohol addiction though.


My mother cannot sleep more than two or three hours (like me. I inherited her genes most likely). When I started smoking pot, I slept like a baby. However, I quit smoking and alcohol is known to disrupt REM sleep (typically a full cycle takes 1.5 hours to complete). I've tried melatonin which works wonderfully. However, an Australian research study found .5g-1g can be effective, while taking larger doses may cause little to no effect. Since pharmaceutical companies cannot patent a naturally occurring molecule, the FDA does not regulate it, since FDA policy is to look only at research documents furnished by the drug companies creating the drug. The FDA does not look at independent studies and does not require long-term studies of the effects of drugs.

In short, it depends on the amount you drink or how much melatonin you use. Your body may need just a very small amount of either to fall asleep. In small amounts, these two substances may not have that many negative side effects.

Alcohol has been used to help people fall asleep for thousands of years, and can be seen in the longest living age per capita (Okinawa, Japan), who drink a glass of of sake before bed (not all but it is not uncommon).

So, I wouldn't recommend large amounts of either, but I do drink a glass of wine at night (which reduces LDL cholesterol) and you are supposed to take melatonin 30 minutes before bed. Sometimes, I wait about an hour, sometimes right away. I sleep fine with no negative side effects. I hope this helps.


@JackWhack-- I don't agree because some people naturally don't produce enough melatonin.

But I also don't think it's a good idea to mix sedatives like melatonin and alcohol, unless you want to sleep like a zombie the entire day.


@ankara-- It can be dangerous if the individual develops dependency on these two substances and if they take high amounts of them.

I think that when melatonin and alcohol combine, it disrupts the part of our sleep called rapid eye movement or REM. This is when we dream the most. The combination of these substances prevents us from having REM sleep while they're active in the body. When the substances wear out, the person will fall into REM sleep and get very vivid dreams.

Plus, the side effects of this combination are so many that I don't think it's a good idea to use for dreaming. I personally wouldn't want to wake up with a migraine, dizziness, fatigue and nausea for the sake of remembering my dreams.


I've heard that some people who want to have more vivid dreams and improve dream recall actually mix these two on purpose.

How does the melatonin and alcohol combination result in vivid dreams exactly?

This is very dangerous right?


I've never understood why anyone would take melatonin in the first place. If you are already having trouble sleeping, don't you know that becoming dependent on a supplement will only make it harder for you to fall asleep on your own? Of course, I guess you could take melatonin every day for the rest of your life.


I didn't realize that drinking alcohol to wash melatonin down would actually keep me awake. I had been having a lot of trouble sleeping after a tragedy in my life last year, and after several nights in a row with little to no sleep, I decided to super sedate myself.

I was surprised when it didn't knock me out cold. I felt woozy, and I did lie down and have trouble getting back up, but I had nightmares the whole time. I kept waking up in fear and gasping for air.

I told myself that if I made it through the night, I would never mix those two again. It was a long night, but I survived.


@feasting – I know what you mean. Alcohol raises your blood pressure, so that's why your heart races at night after you drink.

I didn't know until reading this article that melatonin also raises blood pressure. Even a person who didn't already have hypertension could be in trouble if they combined the two, because the one-two punch could really elevate your pressure to dangerous levels.


I understand why people take melatonin, but I would never drink alcohol in order to fall asleep. I have a terrible night when I drink, because my heart pounds and I just can't stay asleep for long at all.

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