What to Know About Mixing Alcohol and Melatonin

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On May 6, 2024

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On May 6, 2024

What you will learn

  • Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced in the brain, regulates sleep-wake cycles. Its levels rise in the evening to induce sleepiness.
  • Melatonin supplements are commonly used to address sleep disturbances such as insomnia and jet lag, but caution is advised, especially regarding dosage and timing.
  • Alcohol can disrupt melatonin production and circadian rhythms, impacting sleep quality, and combining alcohol with melatonin supplements can intensify sedative effects.
  • Staying safe when using both alcohol and melatonin involves moderation, timing considerations, consulting healthcare providers, and being aware of potential interactions and their impact on sleep and overall health.
  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a recognized medical condition characterized by problematic alcohol consumption, and seeking professional help is crucial for effective treatment and recovery.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the body to regulate sleep-wake cycles. It can also be taken as a sleeping aid supplement.[1] While both alcohol and melatonin can influence sleep patterns, their combined effects may vary and pose potential risks.

Combining alcohol with melatonin can have unpredictable effects on your body and sleep quality. Alcohol is known to disrupt sleep patterns and reduce the overall quality of rest, while melatonin is often used to promote better sleep. However, mixing the two can intensify these effects and lead to increased drowsiness, impaired cognitive function, and a heightened risk of accidents.[2]

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is integral to regulating our sleep-wake cycles, known as circadian rhythms.[3] This biological clock orchestrates various bodily functions, including hormone release and body temperature, syncing them with the day-night cycle.

Melatonin levels typically rise in the evening as darkness falls, signaling the body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Conversely, exposure to light, particularly in the morning, suppresses melatonin production, promoting wakefulness. This sensitivity to light underscores melatonin’s role as a mediator between environmental cues and our internal biological processes.

Supplementing with melatonin is a common practice for addressing sleep disturbances and managing jet lag.[4] People grappling with insomnia, characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep, often use melatonin supplements to improve sleep quality and duration. Furthermore, travelers crossing multiple time zones may experience disruptions in their circadian rhythms, resulting in jet lag.

Melatonin supplements can help rebalance the body’s internal clock, ease the transition, and reduce symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and nighttime restlessness. Similarly, individuals engaged in shift work, particularly night shifts, may benefit from melatonin supplementation to promote sleep during non-traditional hours.

However, caution is advised when using melatonin supplements. Consulting with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement is important, especially if you have underlying health conditions or concurrent medications. Healthcare professionals can offer personalized guidance on dosage, timing, and potential interactions.

While melatonin is generally well-tolerated for short-term use, side effects such as drowsiness, headache, or nausea may occur.[5] Long-term safety data remains limited, emphasizing the importance of responsible usage and medical supervision.

How Can Alcohol Use Affect Melatonin?

Alcohol can have varying effects on melatonin, both in terms of the body’s natural production and when supplementing with melatonin:

Body’s Natural Production of Melatonin:

  • Suppression of melatonin production: Alcohol consumption, particularly in the evening, can disrupt the body’s natural production of melatonin. Research suggests that alcohol can suppress melatonin secretion, leading to alterations in the sleep-wake cycle.[6] This suppression may contribute to difficulty falling asleep or disrupted sleep patterns, ultimately impacting overall sleep quality.
  • Disruption of your circadian rhythms: Additionally, alcohol can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms, which are regulated in part by melatonin. While alcohol may initially induce drowsiness, it can ultimately interfere with the normal progression of sleep stages, leading to fragmented or less restorative sleep.

Supplementing with Melatonin

  • Interaction effects: Combining alcohol with melatonin supplements is likely to exacerbate the sedative effects of both substances, increasing drowsiness and impairing cognitive functions. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and when taken alongside melatonin, which also has sedative properties, it can intensify feelings of drowsiness and impair cognitive function.
  • Increased risk of adverse effects: Concurrent use of alcohol and melatonin may heighten the risk of side effects such as dizziness, confusion, or impaired coordination. These effects can be particularly pronounced when consuming large quantities of alcohol or when exceeding the recommended dosages of melatonin supplements.
  • Altered metabolism: Alcohol consumption may also affect the absorption and metabolism of melatonin in the body. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, alcohol’s impact on liver function and enzyme activity could influence the body’s processing of melatonin, altering its effectiveness or duration of action.

How Can I Stay Safe When Choosing To Drink And Use Melatonin?

Melatonin and Alcohol

When choosing to drink alcohol and use melatonin, it’s important to prioritize safety and minimize potential risks.[7]

  • Understand potential interactions: Educate yourself about how alcohol and melatonin may interact in your body. Recognize that both substances can have sedative effects, and combining them may intensify feelings of drowsiness and impairment.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Limit alcohol consumption and adhere to recommended dosages when using melatonin supplements. Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to adverse health effects, while excessive melatonin intake may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or other side effects. Avoid taking alcohol with any other form of sleeping pill.
  • Timing is key: Be mindful of the timing of alcohol consumption and melatonin supplementation. Avoid consuming alcohol within three to four hours before bedtime to prevent interference with the body’s natural sleep processes and the effectiveness of melatonin supplements.
  • Follow all dosage recommendations: Adhere to recommended dosages for alcohol and melatonin supplements. Avoid exceeding the recommended dose of melatonin, as higher doses may increase the risk of adverse effects without necessarily improving sleep quality.
  • Consult with your provider: If you have any underlying health conditions, are taking medications, or have concerns about combining alcohol and melatonin, consult with a healthcare provider. They can offer personalized guidance based on your health status and help minimize potential risks.
  • Monitor your response: Pay attention to how your body responds when combining alcohol and melatonin. If you experience excessive drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, or other adverse effects, refrain from further consumption and seek medical advice if necessary.
  • Be aware of alcohol’s impact: Remember that alcohol can disrupt sleep quality on its own, even without the addition of melatonin supplements. If you’re using melatonin to improve sleep, consider minimizing alcohol consumption or abstaining altogether, particularly close to bedtime.
  • Stay hydrated: Alcohol can contribute to dehydration, which may exacerbate the potential side effects of melatonin supplements. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially if you consume alcohol.
  • Listen to your body: Trust your body’s signals and adjust your alcohol and melatonin intake accordingly. If combining these substances negatively impacts your sleep quality or overall well-being, discontinue use and consider safer alternative strategies for managing sleep disturbances.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a recognized medical condition according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).[8] It’s characterized by problematic patterns of alcohol consumption leading to distress or impairment in your daily life. AUD varies in severity and entails compulsive alcohol use, craving, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, loss of control, and continued use despite negative consequences.

If you recognize the signs of AUD in yourself or for a loved one, don’t hesitate to seek help. It’s essential to address AUD early to mitigate its effects and promote recovery and overall well-being, and there are several effective alcohol addiction treatments available, in addition to a full spectrum of care to meet your unique needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Alcohol and Melatonin

How does alcohol consumption impact sleep quality when using melatonin?

Alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep quality by interfering with the body’s natural sleep processes and the effectiveness of melatonin supplements. While alcohol may initially induce drowsiness, it can lead to fragmented or less restorative sleep, counteracting the sleep-promoting effects of melatonin.

Does melatonin reduce the negative effects of alcohol consumption on sleep?

While melatonin may help regulate sleep-wake cycles and improve sleep quality, it may not fully counteract the negative effects of alcohol consumption on sleep. Alcohol can disrupt various stages of sleep and interfere with the body’s natural sleep processes, potentially overshadowing the benefits of melatonin supplementation.

Can I take melatonin to counteract the effects of alcohol on sleep?

While melatonin supplements may promote sleep and help regulate sleep-wake cycles, they may not fully counteract the negative effects of alcohol consumption on sleep. Addressing the root causes of sleep disturbances, including alcohol consumption, and adopting healthy sleep habits are essential for optimal sleep quality.

Is it safe to use melatonin as a sleep aid after drinking alcohol?

Using melatonin as a sleep aid after drinking alcohol should be approached with caution. While melatonin supplements may help regulate sleep-wake cycles, alcohol can disrupt various stages of sleep and interfere with the body’s natural sleep processes. Consultation with a healthcare provider is recommended before combining alcohol and melatonin for sleep.

How does chronic alcohol use impact melatonin levels in the body?

Chronic alcohol use can disrupt the body’s natural production of melatonin. Research suggests that long-term alcohol consumption may lead to alterations in melatonin secretion, potentially contributing to sleep disturbances and other health issues associated with alcohol use disorder.

Ascendant New York Editorial Guidelines

Here at Ascendant New York, we understand the importance of having access to accurate medical information you can trust, especially when you or a loved one is suffering from addiction. Find out more on our policy.


[1] Melatonin. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-melatonin/art-20363071#:~:text=Melatonin%20is%20a%20hormone%20in on April 25, 2024

[2] Common questions about melatonin. (2023, February 23). Nhs.uk. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/melatonin/common-questions-about-melatonin/ on April 25, 2024

[3] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2022, July). Melatonin: What You Need To Know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know on April 25, 2024

[4] Cleveland Clinic. (2022, May 7). Melatonin: What It Is & Function. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23411-melatonin on April 25, 2024

[5] Bauer, B. (2017). Is melatonin a helpful sleep aid — and what should I know about melatonin side effects? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/melatonin-side-effects/faq-20057874 on April 25, 2024

[6] Kurhaluk, N. (2021). Alcohol and melatonin. Chronobiology International, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2021.1899198 on April 25, 2024

[7] Common questions about melatonin. (2023, February 23). Nhs.uk. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/melatonin/common-questions-about-melatonin/ on April 25, 2024

[8] MedlinePlus. (2019). Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Medlineplus.gov; National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/alcoholusedisorderaud.html on April 25, 2024