Updated on November 21, 2023
4 min read

Melatonin and Alcohol Interactions

Key Takeaways

  • Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body. It’s also available as a sleep aid supplement.
  • Alcohol can disrupt the circadian rhythm and cause poor sleep quality.
  • Mixing melatonin and alcohol is not recommended. The combination can produce side effects like extreme drowsiness.
  • Instead of taking supplements or medications, people can get a good night’s sleep with sleep hygiene techniques.

Side Effects of Combining Alcohol and Melatonin

Drinking alcohol may render melatonin ineffective. Alcohol disrupts your sleep-wake cycle, while melatonin promotes it.

Alcohol can amplify some of melatonin’s effects, leading to extreme drowsiness and increasing the risk of injury or accidents. Combining both substances can also cause dizziness and anxiety.1

An alcohol-melatonin interaction can affect the liver and liver enzymes, leading to side effects such as:1

  • Trouble focusing 
  • Flushing (redness in the face)
  • Swelling of feet and hands
  • Abnormally rapid heartbeat
  • Breathing problems
  • Loss of consciousness

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone. It regulates your circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle. It’s increasingly produced at night to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.1,2,3,4

Melatonin is also available as a non-FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-approved, over-the-counter (OTC) supplement. It’s used to treat conditions like:3, 4

  • Primary and age-related insomnia
  • Other types of sleep disorders
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Jet lag
  • Anxiety before and after surgery

Online Therapy Can Help

Over 3 million people use BetterHelp. Their services are:

  • Professional and effective
  • Affordable and convenient
  • Personalized and discreet
  • Easy to start
Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

How Alcohol Affects Your Sleep

Alcohol has a soothing effect and can cause sleep. However, this effect disappears after a few hours. 

Binge and sustained drinking can lead to poor sleeping habits and irregular sleep-wake schedules.7 As a result, alcohol can produce the following adverse effects:1,7,8

  • Disrupted circadian rhythm 
  • Decreased REM (rapid eye movement) sleep
  • Suppressed deep sleep 
  • Increased wakefulness at night
  • Poor sleep quality

Consuming alcohol to cope with insomnia may also lead to a self-medicating cycle. This may make people dependent on alcohol in the long run.1,7

Get Professional Help

BetterHelp can connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor.

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Rehab Together

Does Alcohol Affect Melatonin Production?

Studies regarding the influence on melatonin production have inconsistencies. In three small studies, alcohol was shown to reduce melatonin levels in the blood. However, a fourth study disproved this.10

Another study showed that alcohol increased melatonin levels due to the melatonin content in beer.10 Moreover, available studies only look at natural melatonin, not the supplemental form.

How to Safely Use Melatonin

Here are some guidelines on the safe use of melatonin:

Take Only the Recommended Dosage

Because the FDA does not regulate melatonin, effective dosing must be better defined. The usual dosage ranges from 0.1 to 10 mg, taken up to 2 hours before bedtime.3

Talk to Your Doctor Before Taking a Melatonin Supplement

Melatonin supplements can interact with other medications. Before taking any melatonin supplements, talk to your healthcare provider.

Mention if you:11

  • Take other medications 
  • Have any allergies or allergic reactions to certain drugs or supplements
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have diabetes or high blood pressure and take anti-hypertension medications
  • Have an autoimmune disorder, depression, or a seizure disorder

Melatonin supplements are not recommended for people with dementia. Melatonin may cause more daytime drowsiness in older people.4

Take Melatonin Occasionally or For Short Periods 

Taking too much melatonin can make it harder for you to sleep because it interrupts your circadian rhythm. If it isn’t effective after 1 to 2 weeks, talk to your doctor about looking deeper into your sleeping problem.11

Only Buy USP-Verified Melatonin Supplements 

The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) evaluates supplements to meet appropriate manufacturing standards. This helps ensure the quality and accurate dosage of each tablet.

In one study, the melatonin content of 31 supplements varied from -83% to +478%. Some supplements also contain serotonin, a hormone that can be dangerous even at low levels.3,4

Phone, Video, or Live-Chat Support

BetterHelp provides therapy in a way that works for YOU. Fill out the questionnaire, get matched, begin therapy.

Get Started

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

7 Ways to Improve Your Sleep

You can explore improving your sleep hygiene instead of taking melatonin or other sleep aids. Sleep hygiene is practices that create optimal conditions for you to sleep well.

Here are some sleep hygiene techniques:2,7,11,12,13

  1. Turn off or dim your lights and use dark shades in your room
  2. Turn off blue light sources before bedtime (TVs, smartphones, computers, etc.)
  3. Follow a consistent sleep schedule
  4. Avoid large meals, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine before bedtime
  5. Keep your naps short
  6. Optimize your bedroom for sleeping (Comfortable pillows, mattresses, and temperature)
  7. Exercise

Get matched with an affordable mental health counselor

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Updated on November 21, 2023
13 sources cited
Updated on November 21, 2023
  1. Varanasi S., Billingsley, A. “Can I Drink Alcohol With Melatonin?” GoodRx Health, 2021.
  2. Girardo et al. “The role of melatonin in the pathogenesis of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).” Eur Spine J, 2011. 
  3. Savage et al. “Melatonin.” Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing 2022.
  4. Melatonin: What You Need To Know.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), 2021.
  5. Auld et al. “Evidence for the efficacy of melatonin in the treatment of primary adult sleep disorders.” Sleep Med Rev, 2017.
  6. Costello et al. “The effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature.” Nutrition journal, 2014. 
  7. Colrain et al. “Alcohol and the sleeping brain.” Handbook of clinical neurology, 2014.
  8. Britton et al. “The association between alcohol consumption and sleep disorders among older people in the general population.” Sci Rep, 2020.
  9. Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), 2019.
  10. Peuhkuri et al. “Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin.” Food Nutr Res, 2012. 
  11. Melatonin for Sleep: Does It Work?” Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  12. Tips for Better Sleep.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2016.

Related Pages