When you've reached a certain level of exhaustion, you'll do just about anything for good sleep. You might try meditating, or winding down with a warm shower, or even popping a supplement. But if you often find yourself kicking back with a glass of wine in the evenings, you may want to reconsider — especially before mixing it with a sleep aid like melatonin.
While there seems to be some disagreement about just how dangerous alcohol and melatonin are in combination, it's best to err on the side of caution. "You must pick one or the other, even in small doses," Jessica Nouhavandi, PharmD, lead pharmacist and cofounder of the accredited online pharmacy Honeybee Health, told POPSUGAR. "Alcohol can enhance any possible adverse side effects from melatonin." Dr. Nouhavandi explained that mixing the two could increase your risk of falling, passing out, or having trouble breathing, among other potentially harmful outcomes.
And that's not the only reason to avoid drinking a glass of wine or cocktail in the hours before bed. Presumably, if you're taking a supplement like melatonin, it's because you're struggling to get adequate sleep — and despite popular belief, a nightcap is unlikely to help your cause.
"Alcohol can certainly help people to fall asleep at the beginning of the night, but through the course of the night as it is metabolized, alcohol tends to destabilize sleep and create more middle-of-the-night awakenings," Adam Sorscher, MD, sleep health director at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, NH, told POPSUGAR. "It can also contribute to sleep apnea and loud snoring. Therefore, the net effect of alcohol on sleep is usually negative."
The bottom line? Experts don't recommend drinking alcohol in an effort to get more restful sleep. And, while melatonin may be helpful for some, it's important that you talk to your doctor if you're having trouble falling or staying asleep. They can help you get to the bottom of your sleep issues and find the safest, most effective solution.