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Melatonin is a common over-the-counter sleep aid. It’s widely available and equally widely used, with millions of Americans reportedly using it every year, according to National Health Statistic Reports.
Common uses for melatonin supplements include helping with sleep in people who are battling jet lag or affected by delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD). It is a condition where people have “great difficulty initiating sleep at an appropriately early time, and, as a knock-on effect, waking at a desirable time in the morning, leading to chronic, and often quite severe sleep restriction trying to conform to a nine-to-five schedule,” according to an article published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease.
If you’re prescribed Zoloft® (a.k.a., sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), you may have wondered whether or not it’s safe to take melatonin with your antidepressants.
The use of melatonin with antidepressant drugs may potentially increase your risk of some side effects, including sedation. As such, it’s important that you talk to your healthcare provider before you use these medications together.
Below, we’ve explained more about what you should be aware of if you’re prescribed Zoloft and want to use melatonin to fall asleep. We’ve also explained how supplements such as melatonin works in your body.
Learn more about sertraline in our complete guide.
Melatonin is a hormone. It’s produced naturally by your body in response to darkness. As the sun sets and light levels begin to decrease, your pineal gland secretes melatonin, causing you to feel tired and sleepy late at night, according to an article published in the journal, Brain Disorders and Therapy.
You can purchase melatonin as a supplement, typically in the form of capsules or tablets, to help if you have trouble sleeping. Because it is considered a health supplement, melatonin is regulated less strictly by the FDA than medications and can be purchased over the counter from drugstores, health food stores and online. Melatonin is not a prescription drug.
Although research overall is mixed, some studies have found that higher melatonin levels may make it easier to fall asleep and have benefits for a quality sleep pattern, according to an article published in the journal, Neurological Research.
For most people, melatonin is a safe supplement for short-term use in controlling sleep problems. However, like many other supplements, it may cause side effects, according to an article published in the journal, StatPearls.
Of these, the most common are nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth, daytime sleepiness and headaches. Additionally, melatonin could worsen blood pressure in people who take blood pressure meds, according to a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. You can learn more about this medication in this guide: How long does it take for melatonin to work?
Yes, you can use melatonin and Zoloft together. Zoloft (sertraline) and other SSRIs can cause insomnia, which means it wouldn’t be unusual for people prescribed Zoloft to consider sleep aids such as melatonin.
Currently, there isn’t very much research on the effects of melatonin and Zoloft together. While there are no reported drug interactions between melatonin and Zoloft, melatonin may make certain antidepressants less effective. See also: how long does melatonin last?
Because of this, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before using melatonin and Zoloft at the same time. They’ll be able to tell you about potential safety risks and offer personalized help to make sure that you stay safe while using your medication.
The sleep disorder insomnia is one of the more common side effects of antidepressants such as Zoloft. In fact, data from clinical trials shows that 20 percent of people who use Zoloft report at least some degree of insomnia during treatment.
If you find it difficult to fall or stay asleep while using Zoloft, making a few changes to your habits and lifestyle can often help. Try the following techniques to make falling asleep easier while you use Zoloft:
Take Zoloft in the morning. If you find it difficult to sleep at night, try taking Zoloft earlier in the day. The best time to take Zoloft for sleep would be in the morning. Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider first to check that it’s okay to take your medication at this time.
Exercise regularly during the day. Exercise, especially in the morning and afternoon, may help to improve your sleep quality. Try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise, five days per week, ideally at a moderate to vigorous intensity level.
Make sure not to drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol is not recommended while you are prescribed Zoloft. Alcohol, especially in excess, may also have a negative effect on your sleep quality.
Avoid caffeinated drinks after midday. Caffeine’s elimination half-life may be as long as 9.5 hours, meaning a single cup of coffee can have a lasting negative effect on your ability to fall asleep, according to the book, Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations. As such, it’s best to avoid caffeine after midday.
Turn off technology an hour before you need to sleep. Finally, try switching off your computer, tablet or any other electronic device with a screen one hour before you want to sleep. This may help to stimulate your body’s own melatonin production.
If you’re currently prescribed Zoloft, talk to your healthcare provider before you use melatonin or any other sleep aids. Also, try using the techniques listed above to relax, unwind and fall asleep more easily while you’re taking Zoloft.
Good sleep is essential for your mental health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to come by. Our complete guide to science-backed techniques for better sleep explains what you can do to improve your sleep for better health and a higher quality of life.
Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.