Melatonin And Alcohol: Everything You Need To Know

Melatonin And Alcohol

Melatonin And Alcohol

People suffering from sleeping issues or disorders like insomnia may turn to natural supplements as the quickest and easiest treatments available. Since they trust the “natural” factor of these substances, they may fail to check and learn about its use, effectiveness, and safe consumption.

Melatonin is one of these supplements, readily available over-the-counter. While it would help the individual regulate and improve their sleep quality, multiple factors need to be considered before taking it. This includes their alcohol consumption patterns, as the interaction between melatonin and alcohol is unsafe and may worsen health, instead of helping with sleep.

What is Melatonin?

The pineal gland of the brain produces a hormone called melatonin. The secretion levels are affected by the body’s circadian rhythm or the natural clock. Peak levels occur during the night and help in signaling the shift from wakefulness to sleep within the system. It encourages the mind and body to sleep.

There are many reasons why the hormone’s production would be disturbed or stalled, ranging from stress, insomnia, jet lag, or an unhealthy lifestyle. In such cases, people can take melatonin in the form of supplements, to balance out its levels in the body for the short term. It is not intended for long-term use.

Helping the body with its melatonin function and levels, these supplements can be used until the body readjusts to a better sleep schedule or when the brain resumes proper production of the hormone.

Relationship between Melatonin and Alcohol

Alcohol has been considered as a sedative that would make the person feel sleepy after a few glasses. While it puts the body in an almost unconscious state, it is also known to reduce the levels of melatonin the body can create. It can disrupt the sleep cycle by inducing excessive sleep or a disturbed one.

Drinking excessive alcohol can cause some muscles surrounding the airways to work differently, thus affecting breathing. This degrades the quality of sleep further, especially if the person has sleep apnea or other breathing disorders.

A combination of alcohol and melatonin would have multiple side effects on the body’s overall health. Some of these include drowsiness, dizziness, and an increase in anxiety, which would lead to unstable blood pressure levels.

Effects of Melatonin and Alcohol Interaction

Apart from inhibiting melatonin’s functionalities, combining it with alcohol can result in many health issues such as:

  • Negatively affects the liver’s ability to create certain enzymes
  • Flushing in the upper body and face
  • Unusually fast heartbeat
  • Trouble with breathing
  • Swollen feet and ankles
  • Poor focusing and thinking abilities
  • Feeling abnormally cold or shivering
  • Dizziness leading to unconsciousness
  • Increased anxiety
  • Intense dreams
  • Irritability

Using Melatonin in the Best Way

Supplements can be administered a few hours before bed, and come in doses ranging from 1 to 10mg. Consulting a doctor about the dosage size is recommended, as they could point out what is the best option for the person’s lifestyle and metabolism.

Normal doses that help attain good sleep are usually between 0.1 and 5mg. The size would also depend on the age, existent health issues, reasons for consuming it, and the duration the supplements are being consumed for. Dosages could also vary as per the supplement brand.

Users could expect to see results within a few days of administering melatonin supplements consistently before sleep. Here are some of the best ways in which melatonin can be taken, to give optimal results:

Timing:

Healthcare professionals suggest patients take the melatonin supplement around 30 minutes before bedtime.

Types of Supplements:

The artificial hormone is available in various forms in the market. Pills are widely available, while some food and beverage products might also contain certain levels of added melatonin. However, the pill is the safest and most successful way to introduce melatonin into the body.

Avoid Light:

Melatonin works best when the body is not exposed to light. Before going to bed, it is best to avoid activities that expose eyes to blue light. This includes using devices with screens, such as a smartphone or the television.

Keep the Alcohol away:

Abstain from drinking alcohol after taking the supplement, especially if it is being taken for aiding in sleep. Most of the supplements are time-release, thus taking some time to begin functioning. They usually work after 30 minutes, hence drinking alcohol would interrupt this release process.

Side Effects of Melatonin

There are no major risks or side effects associated with melatonin supplements. If controlled doses are being taken regularly, the pills would not have negative effects on the body or sleep cycle. 

Melatonin supplements have not been standardized for processing and packaging, so buying from reputable sources would be the safest option.

Side effects, if noticeable, could differ from person to person. Some of them could be:

  • Sleepiness or sluggish behavior during the daytime, much later than waking up
  • Unusual disorientation or dizziness
  • Disturbed sleep cycle, especially discomforting when the person works a night job or has maintained the same sleep schedule for a long time
  • Sudden and short periods of depression or depressive emotions
  • Occasional migraines and headaches

The supplements may have dangerous interactions with some prescription medication, which include:

  • Diabetes medications
  • Birth control pills
  • Blood thinners
  • Drugs for the immune system (immunosuppressants)

When to see the Doctor?

Before turning to natural supplements, there are many ways in which sleeping issues can be solved. It involves many changes made to the lifestyle, such as the inclusion of daily exercise, diet control, and stress management. These also include letting the body get a huge amount of natural light so that the circadian rhythm can be maintained and natural melatonin can be produced.

In case the individual is experiencing repeated sleep disruptions or chronic insomnia, a doctor should be consulted. There might be underlying health problems, with sleeplessness being one of the symptoms.

If health issues have been ruled out, talking with the doctor is still recommended before taking melatonin supplements. The healthcare professional will be able to point out and determine the side effects and the reaction with the other medications being taken by the person.

They would also mention that the supplements should not be used for extended periods. Even though the pills are successful, the course of treatment should not go beyond one or two months. The pills are not addictive, but the body’s hormones would be highly disturbed.

They would also prescribe the correct dosage. It should be assumed and would be clearly stated that alcohol should be avoided when consuming melatonin. In case the person has taken both, immediate medical attention is needed if they go through breathing complications or dizziness.

Conclusion

If the person is struggling with alcohol consumption, the doctor would firmly deter from suggesting melatonin as a sleep supplement, until the addiction is dealt with. Other non-interfering natural substitutes such as ginkgo Biloba or various teas would be preferred.