People want to sleep, and some people also want to drink. It’s not an unusual desire, and yet many people don’t fully understand how what they consume can affect their body, especially when taken with other substances.
So, are melatonin and alcohol a safe mix?
What Does Melatonin Do To Your Body?
The circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s internal clock, is responsible for keeping your body on a healthy sleep and wake cycle. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in your brain that helps keep the circadian rhythm running smoothly.
Melatonin is produced mainly at night and it helps bind receptors in your body, thus leading to lowered nerve activity and dopamine, resulting in a more relaxed body and state of mind.
In other words, melatonin lets your body know it’s time to sleep, making you feel sleepy but not actually sedating you.
However, there are some people who don’t produce enough melatonin, or feel as if they need additional melatonin to help them sleep. Sleep supplements with melatonin are available for such cases.
People with naturally low melatonin levels include:
- People with high stress levels
- The elderly
- Those who don’t get enough natural light during the day
- People who spend too much time exposed to blue light (light from laptops and phones, among other things)
Melatonin supplements provide additional melatonin and can be found in different forms, such as gummies, sprays, tablets, and more.
However, introducing melatonin into your body can be a tricky thing, as it can provide adverse effects to some people.
People who should use caution in taking melatonin supplements include:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- People on medications for other health issues (autoimmune and mental health issues especially)
It is important to talk to a doctor if you fall under one of these categories. It can be beneficial to speak to a health consultant before taking melatonin even if you don’t fall under one of these categories.
Why? Well, melatonin should be taken in very small doses and even then, can have many side effects.
Some side effects include:
- Day drowsiness
Melatonin can also affect you in other ways, as it’s an antioxidant. This means it can aid things such as eye health and balancing hormone levels. It can also help regulate your body temperature when sleeping.
They say you can have too much of a good thing, and in melatonin’s case, that can certainly be true. Although unlikely, you can actually overdose on melatonin.
So, when taking melatonin supplements, monitor yourself and see how it affects you. If they don’t work within 1-2 weeks, you might consider stopping the supplements and seeking additional guidance from your physician. If they do work, consider continuing them for around two months and then stop using them so you can see whether or not your body can have restful sleep naturally now, without the use of additional melatonin.
What Does Alcohol Do To Your Body?
Alcohol is classified as a depressant, but can present stimulant reactions, too, for some people.
When you have an alcoholic drink, the alcohol goes into your bloodstream and affects your body and brain by slowing down their functions. This leads to feeling less in control of your body, with a lack of coordination and balance. Brain function also becomes slower, leading to slow or poorer decisions because you cannot think as rationally or as quickly. Eventually a drowsiness sets in.
The effects listed above vary depending on the amount you drink. Increasing the amount you drink sends your body into different stages.
These stages depend on a few factors:
- Height and weight
- If you’ve consumed food beforehand
- Your general alcohol tolerance (can depend on age, gender, height and weight, your drinking history, and genetics)
- Whether or not you’ve used another substance that day
Generally, those who can tolerate alcohol best are larger men who drink on a somewhat consistent basis. On the whole, men tolerate alcohol better than women do. Two drinks for a man typically has the same effect as one drink would have on a woman. This is mainly due to differences in metabolism and biological makeup. Women are naturally built with higher levels of body fat than men, and fat retains alcohol.
However, this can vary based on the factors above. Everyone is different, and yet, everyone should approach drinking carefully. Although some stages of drinking can be enjoyable, others are dangerous and painful.
The stages of drinking are listed below:
- Low Level (still legally sober)
- Euphoria (tipsy)
- Excitement (tipsy or drunk)
- Confusion (drunk)
- Stupor (very drunk and reaching alcohol poisoning)
- Coma (high level of alcohol poisoning)
- Death (death from alcohol poisoning)
Drugs can be addictive and alcohol is no different. Consistent use or abuse of alcohol can lead to issues with the brain, liver, heart, immune system, and pancreas.
Therefore, use of alcohol is legal and can be enjoyable, but it must be done carefully and safely.
Can Melatonin and Alcohol Mix Safely?
The short answer is no, not really.
Alcohol affects sleep by itself even without melatonin supplementation. At first it may help you fall asleep, making you drowsy after a few drinks. However, that sleep is likely to not last long and it might be hard to fall back asleep.
Additionally, alcohol can mess with the muscles that affect the way you breathe, that’s why snoring and sleep apnea tends to be worse when alcohol has been consumed.
It seems like melatonin would be a good thing to take, so as to help you stay asleep. However, there are a multitude of reasons why it’s a bad idea.
It can alter your liver’s function.
Taking melatonin and drinking alcohol can lead your liver to have a hard time creating enzymes you need. As a result, you could faint, have a faster than normal heartbeat, have a red face, shiver although it isn’t cold, have your feet swell, and have trouble breathing and thinking coherently.
It can make you anxious.
Melatonin and alcohol by themselves can raise blood pressure, together they can do the same thing, but even faster. This can lead to mood changes and troubles with high anxiety. If you already deal with anxiety issues, it could even lead to a panic attack.
It can make you sleepy.
Again, melatonin and alcohol by themselves can help make you sleepy, but together it can lead to extreme drowsiness that can cause an issue if you’re somewhere where sleeping isn’t an option yet.
It can make you dizzy and nauseous .
Both are common side effects of both consuming melatonin and alcohol. Together, they’ll make you feel even worse.
So, what should you do if you want to take both?
Obviously it’s better to not mix them, but if you have to, wait at least 2-3 hours after your last drink before taking melatonin. If you’ve been drinking heavily that day, it’s best not to take melatonin at all.
No, melatonin and alcohol are not a safe mix.
If you do decide to take both together, it is important that you space them out as much as possible and realize the consequences of what you might be doing.
Protecting your health, now more than ever, is vitally important. Good health shouldn’t be taken for granted, and neither should good sleep. If you choose to drink, do so without melatonin. If you choose to take melatonin, don’t drink. Make the choice to prioritize your health today, not tomorrow.