Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. Many people take melatonin as a supplement to help them sleep easier at night, and it's a drug-free sleep aid that can be very effective for people experiencing difficulty sleeping.
Alcohol, on the other hand, makes it harder for people to fall asleep and stay asleep. It might also affect your ability to properly process melatonin, thus impacting your quality of sleep.
How does alcohol interfere with your ability to sleep?
Alcohol can sometimes make you feel relaxed or drowsy because it’s a depressant and has sedative-like effects. Like other depressants, it slows down your nervous system and parts of the brain. But this doesn't mean that it's good for sleep.
Alcohol consistently affects the amount of REM-sleep (or paradoxical sleep) that you get in a night. REM sleep is widely referred to as the fourth stage of sleep that is essential to maintain your cognitive functions and general wellbeing.
By preventing you from reaching a deeper stage of sleep, you are more likely to wake up and suffer poorer quality of sleep when you drink close to bedtime. This can contribute to feeling less rested during the day.
Many studies point to alcohol contributing to increased sleep disturbances and poor sleep quality, especially in high doses. Even small amounts can have a negative impact on your sleep.
In addition, alcohol can affect your breathing patterns and make it more difficult to breathe. This can have a negatively exacerbate certain sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
How does alcohol affect melatonin production?
Even moderate amounts of alcohol can disrupt your ability to sleep and suppress your body’s melatonin production. A study found that even a moderate dose of alcohol suppressed melatonin in young adults. This occurred even when those tested had stable sleep histories and environments prior to the study.
Alcohol can affect other hormones in your body as well; it's been found that alcohol disrupts your endocrine system which is responsible for managing your body's hormone imbalances. Hormonal disruptions might affect growth hormones, stress hormones, and even organs that produce hormones like your thyroid.
Alcohol and insomnia
There are a number of studies that have suggested a link between alcoholism and insomnia; some results provide a correlation to the severity of alcoholism to increased likeliness of insomnia. Other studies draw context around sleep disruption as a potential risk for developing alcohol dependence or relapse.
While alcohol might not always be the direct cause of someone’s insomnia, it won’t benefit your sleep quality on its own and could even contribute in a negative way.
Affecting your sleep quality
Overall, alcohol suppresses the effectiveness of using melatonin. Poor sleep quality results from increased disturbed sleep which is commonly found when people drink moderate to high amounts of alcohol.
On top of that, poor sleep quality can impact your daily life as well. Not getting enough sleep can lead to short term sleep deprivation, making you feel groggy and tired during the daytime. This can impair your mental and physical cognition, and detrimentally affect your physical performance, memory, and ability to focus.
Long term or chronic sleep deprivation is correlated to increased likelihood of developing conditions such as obesity, heart conditions, diabetes, and other conditions that have a profound effect on your health.
Are there side effects to mixing alcohol and melatonin?
Because alcohol disrupts your body's hormonal regulation, it might affect melatonin production or make it less effective. It is also possible that can experience negative effects such as:
- Fast heartbeat
- Drowsiness or fuzziness
- Redness in the face
- Difficulty breathing
- Sleep problems or poor sleep quality
If you begin to experience increasingly negative symptoms after mixing alcohol and melatonin, seek medical attention.
Can you die if you mix alcohol and melatonin?
Melatonin and alcohol death is not common, but those who consume high amounts of alcohol could be at risk. If you are drinking, it is best to reduce or entirely eliminate other substances that might negatively interact with alcohol.
Using melatonin responsibly
Although melatonin is a relatively safe supplement for most healthy adult people, it is important to take appropriate doses and avoid mixing it with substances that could impact your sleep negatively.
When using melatonin as a sleep aid, start with the lowest dose before adjusting to a higher dose. The average recommended dose for healthy adults is anywhere between 0.5mg to 10mg. The dose should be adjusted for children, elderly people, and people who have health conditions that might affect their sensitivity to melatonin.
Melatonin supplements like Ascent Instant Sleep start at even lower doses, but are more efficient than traditional oral melatonin supplements such as gummies. Still, you should not use any kinds of melatonin products in addition to alcohol.