If you take melatonin to help with occasional sleep issues, you might wonder if you should pop your supplement after winding down from cocktail hour with friends. But taking melatonin after drinking might not be the best idea, experts say. “Melatonin is typically taken to address circadian rhythm sleep disorders, or as an insomnia therapy,” Dr. Nate Watson, SleepScore Labs scientific advisor, tells Bustle via email. “Alcohol, although causing sleepiness initially, can cause sleep disruption/awakenings once it wears off throughout the night resulting in further insomnia troubles.”
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, Verywell Health explains, and helps regulate your sleep cycle so that you can sleep well every night. Over-the-counter melatonin supplements can sometimes help with sleep disturbances and insomnia, but knowing how to take them correctly to avoid side effects is important. Taking too much melatonin can counter its effects, Verywell Health says, making it more difficult to sleep, so it’s important to get the dosage right. Taking the recommended dose on the bottle — or the lowest effective dose possible, is best.
Medical News Today reports that while melatonin is generally considered safe to take as an occasional sleep aid, complications can happen when you take it with alcohol, such as increased drowsiness, dizziness, risk of falling or fainting, or trouble breathing. Alcohol can also make melatonin less effective overall. Taking melatonin after drinking can also make driving dangerous, and some people might experience trouble walking, Medical News Today says. “I recommend not drinking alcohol and taking melatonin,” Dr. Watson says. “They both may cause drowsiness and when taken together, other symptoms, such as dizziness and irritability, can be problematic.”
Verywell Health notes that even moderate amounts of alcohol can affect your sleep, so it may be helpful to pay attention to whether or not having a cocktail disrupts your sleep schedule. While having a glass of wine before bed may help you feel sleepy initially, it might ultimately cause you to sleep less deeply overall — resulting in middle-of-the-night sleep disruptions for some people.
While supplements like melatonin may help with occasional sleep problems, if you really can’t doze off on the regular, you might want to check in with your doctor to see if there’s a health problem happening. “Healthy sleep should occur and be refreshing without the need for alcohol or melatonin,” Dr. Watson says. “If this is problematic I suggest discussing this with your health care provider.”
And while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a cocktail, or taking some melatonin if you need some sleep support, your best best is not to mix the two. The potential side effects aren’t worth the risk, and you most likely won’t get the full benefits from your supplement anyway. Healthline suggests that if you want to take melatonin after drinking, it’s best to wait two to three hours after your last drink before taking your supplement. (Take into account, also, that melatonin should be taken around 90 minutes before you want to go to bed, anyway.) If you have any concerns about your sleeping patterns, or you’ve got ongoing issues with insomnia, make sure to check in with your doctor to see what your best options for restoring healthy sleep patterns might be.