It is not uncommon to hear anecdotes regarding people who drink alcohol when they cannot sleep. Today, a much more effective solution to insomnia and other sleep disorders is by taking melatonin tablets and pills. However, mixing melatonin and alcohol together in order to induce sleep is actually not medically sound.
Medical experts are virtually unanimous in warning those with sleeping disorders from taking alcohol in conjunction with melatonin. While the majority of those who have done this did feel drowsy, others did not feel sleepy at all. Some felt like they have taken a stimulant, which may be explained by the fact that the body often reacts to alcohol consumption by producing a stimulant called adrenaline. Some people may be able to sleep, but the sleep would be restless in which the person would go through nightmare-filled sleep in between periods of wakefulness.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain, and it causes sleepiness. Melatonin signals the brain when to sleep and wake up. Normally, the level of melatonin is low during the day and it begins to increase as evening and night time approaches.
However, some people may suffer from jet lag and insomnia, and these conditions are normally caused by some imbalance in the body’s melatonin level. By taking melatonin supplements, these sleep disorders may be alleviated so that people suffering from these conditions can normalize their sleeping patterns. It must be noted though that melatonin use can cause several side effects including nausea, drowsiness during the day, dizziness, and sometimes even mood changes.
How Alcohol Affects Sleep
While alcohol is technically a sedative, it is not actually effective in promoting naturally healthy sleep. Despite popular belief, it doesn’t help the drinker get a good night’s sleep at all. Several studies bear this out. In one study conducted by the University of Connecticut Health Center, it was discovered that women who consumed three alcoholic beverages at night experienced a 15% drop in their melatonin levels.
Another study by the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in France showed that drinking 256g of alcohol over a 24-hour period reversed the normal melatonin production cycle. Melatonin secretion decreased during the night but it increased during the day. This melatonin production reversal can disrupt normal sleeping patterns that can lead to sleep deprivation and insomnia.
Melatonin and Alcohol Together
Taking alcohol along with melatonin may result in symptoms common in hangovers, such as dehydration, muscle pain, and severe headaches. Taking alcohol can also exacerbate the side effects caused by using melatonin alone, especially headaches and drowsiness.
In conclusion, melatonin supplements improve melatonin levels in the body, while in contrast drinking alcohol disrupts melatonin levels. It only makes sense that for melatonin to work effectively, the melatonin user must refrain from drinking alcohol or any other substance that can affect his or her melatonin level as well. Melatonin on its own is good, but melatonin and alcohol is never a good combination.