Can I Take Melatonin and Alcohol?
There are two things most adults in the united states have in common; insomnia and their love for alcohol. It is a known fact that most adults have a poor sleep routine caused by the stress and anxiety their daily activities bring. Due to their poor sleep habits, they resort to taking sleeping pills as a quick fix. However, these pills expose them to health risks like cancer, making them depend on a safer remedy, sleep-inducing dietary supplements like melatonin to help them adjust their declining sleep quality.
To also help them stick to their desired bedtime, some adults prefer taking an alcoholic drink while others take more natural supplements like CBD oil to help them sleep better. Although melatonin and alcohol are individually great for improving sleep hours and quality, they are in no way safe to be used together. Wonder why? In this article, we’ll help you understand why mixing both sleep-inducing substances is detrimental to your health.
How does alcohol consumption affect sleep?
Before we proceed, you must know that taking an alcoholic drink is not a recommended remedy for insomnia, most adults just prefer using it for this purpose. The sedative effects are what lures them to drink alcohol when they’re having difficulties going to bed. But, taking alcoholic beverages to induce sleep has mild side effects on your sleep quality. This drink takes you to the deepest stage of sleeping by lowering your rapid eyes movement (REM) – this makes it difficult to enjoy your sleep. Even if you sleep as quickly as possible after consumption, you’ll have a tough time resting. And the truth is, taking alcoholic beverages as a sedative will cause you to have a sleep disorder, making you feel drowsy all day long. Thereby increasing your need for caffeine.
Drinking alcohol to force yourself to sleep could quickly become a habit and ruin your healthy sleep habit, and this will automatically throw your body system off balance, thereby intensifying your sleep problems. You get caught up in an endless cycle of poor-quality sleep at night and difficulties staying up during the day.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is no stranger to our body systems. Our body produces melatonin naturally to regulate our circadian rhythm, which simply refers to our natural sleep cycle. Melatonin is a hormone produced by our pineal gland to signal us when we need to sleep at night. Studies have also shown that drinking the first-morning urine replenishes melatonin levels. However, drinking urine is now ancient practice. This hormone springs into action as soon as the sun goes down, and gets stronger between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m when you’ll most likely get the feeling of tiredness.
Melatonin can also be gotten as a dietary supplement in cases where it fails to put our bodies to sleep naturally. While melatonin is an OTC prescription and is an effective remedy for eliminating insomnia, taking it in just to increase the natural melatonin levels your body produces is hazardous. Melatonin is also used to treat sleep disorders associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Before ingesting melatonin, it is important that you speak to a medical professional, and only have it for a short period. Taking this dietary supplement for a long period could take a toll on your body system. However, epilepsy patients need melatonin supplements to increase their melatonin levels, as they are prone to having more seizures.
Is it safe to mix alcohol and melatonin?
Alcohol and melatonin are both sedatives, and a mixture of both can cause your organ to function slowly. While there is no research to back this claim, both can cause sleepiness, and having a mixture of both could cause you to be severely drowsy.
Research shows that alcohol also reduces your melatonin levels and disturbs your natural sleep and wake cycle, while melatonin supplements help amend it. So, taking the two could cause some contradicting reactions, making it even harder for both to do their jobs.
That said, mixing both is a terrible idea. Melatonin supplements would be fully effective without consuming alcohol and vice versa.
Side effects of consuming alcohol and melatonin
Mixing two sedatives comes with a couple of mild side effects, which gives you more reasons not to have this mixture in your system. Here are some of the various ways your body would react when you consume these two substances together.
- Liver malfunction: Your liver’s ability to produce certain enzymes will reduce.
- Rapid heartbeat: Your heart races unusually faster, and you may feel this pounding in your chest. Learn more about your Heart Rate Variability and when you should be scared.
- Inability to focus: You begin to lose your focus, as your brain is caught in between sleeping and staying up, especially when it’s your bedtime.
- Cold: You feel chills and cold, even when it’s hot outside
- Nausea: You feel the urge to throw up more frequently than usual
- Difficulties in breathing: This mixture relaxes some muscles in your lungs, which leads to difficulties in breathing.
- Headache: Your head begins to ache, and this could get really severe and give you a tough time carrying on with your day.
These side effects could get worse if you continue to mix these two substances for consumption. So, be sure to avoid them and visit the doctor if you already have one. For individuals with insomnia, having the pharmacist prescribe the appropriate sleep medicine is your best bet. Resorting to alcohol consumption and other dietary supplements is self-medication, and is totally frowned at in the medical world.
Am I at a higher risk of complications when consuming alcohol and melatonin?
Mixing these two sedatives is without a doubt a dangerous move. However, some adults experience its side effects way more than others. Some may react more to the intake of just one of these substances. And it gets worse when they take both.
Here are the three categories of people that are prone to severe complications when they mix these two:
1. People taking some prescriptions
Certain prescriptions heighten the effects of taking both alcoholic liquid and melatonin products together. Here are some common examples:
- For those who take blood thinners, alcohol makes it difficult for your body to process the medication. This could lead to bleeding in the brain and stomach. Melatonin supplements also have the same effect, so avoid taking drugs like warfarin.
- A mixture of anxiety medications and alcohol could lead to intense drowsiness. Drugs like alprazolam should never be mixed with melatonin supplements either, it could cause trouble breathing.
iii. Other OTC sleeping pills such as diphenhydramine, valerian root, or doxylamine do not go so well with alcohol and melatonin. It could cause you to pass out or lead to severe drowsiness too.
Several other medications could cause harm to your body system if mixed with alcohol or melatonin. So, you must gain approval from a certified medical practitioner before having any of these substances in your system.
2. Older adults
For older people, ingesting melatonin doesn’t have as many side effects as it does for younger people, as their pineal gland can’t produce this hormone in the appropriate amount. Just like people with epilepsy, they need melatonin supplements. So, melatonin intake is just about the right prescription for treating insomnia. However, older adults tend to feel the sedative effect of alcohol more and a combination with melatonin could lead to the loss of body coordination.
3. People assigned females at birth
Research shows that persons assigned females at birth have a lower concentration of water in their bodies compared to people assigned males at birth. So, when they talk about alcohol, they reach a higher level of blood alcohol concentration quickly. Therefore, combining melatonin with alcohol as a helping tool for sleep would lead to more severe reactions.
Are there any sleep aids that work with alcohol?
Absolutely not. Research shows that mixing alcohol with any sleep aid or any OTC medication at all isn’t ideal. Taking alcohol with any medication could pose a threat to your life. Alcohol also reduces the effects of these medications, so consuming it alongside any medication at all is completely unnecessary.
How to take melatonin the right way
For people with insomnia, a dosage between 0.1 milligram and 0.5 milligrams will help them see the effect of melatonin. However, it is best to speak to a doctor as doses may change depending on your health status. Dosages for this hormone vary depending on age, the longevity of use, existing health issues, and your reasons for taking it.
Here are some common guidelines you should know before ingesting melatonin:
- Melatonin works best when you take it 30 minutes before your bedtime. Many doctors and nutritionists recommend this action.
- Tablets are the safest means of ingesting melatonin. Although this supplement is included in some beverages today, tablets remain the most common and safest form of consumption.
- Avoid activities that will normally affect your sleep hygiene after taking melatonin, especially activities that involve using smart devices. You must stay away from blue light. It comes from phones, laptops, TVs, and other devices with screens. Blue light reduces the melatonin levels in the body and causing a disruption in the function of this supplement, giving you hard time getting to bed.
- Alcohol shouldn’t be taken after you use your melatonin supplement. Melatonin begins to work as soon as it is consumed, but sometimes it takes up to 30 minutes before you begin to feel its effect. Taking alcohol in between this process disrupts its effect and makes it difficult to go to bed.
How long does melatonin last in the system?
Depending on the producer of the supplement and the natural body reaction of its consumer, melatonin could stay in your organ for as long as 6 hours. If you fail to sleep during these hours, you’ll most likely experience its side effects, especially severe drowsiness.
If you’re having issues going to bed, your best option is to seek professional help. While melatonin enhances your sleep routine, there is no standard dosage when using it. So, visiting your doctor for the appropriate prescription is necessary. Studies have also shown that melatonin can be used to treat sleep disorders associated with ADHD patients. Also, low levels of melatonin can be increased through tryptophan intake.