Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/04/2020
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.
Common uses for melatonin include helping with sleep in people who are jet lagged or affected by delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD), 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.”
If you’re prescribed Zoloft® (sertraline), you may have wondered whether or not it’s safe to take melatonin with your antidepressants.
Using 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 and antidepressants such as Zoloft work in your body.
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.
You can purchase melatonin as a supplement, typically in the form of capsules or tablets. 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.
Although research overall is mixed, some studies have found that melatonin may make it easier to fall asleep and have benefits for sleep quality, time and efficiency. We’ve talked more about these benefits in our guide to using melatonin to improve your sleep.
For most people, melatonin is a safe supplement for short-term use. However, like many other supplements, it may cause side effects. Of these, the most common are nausea, drowsiness, daytime sleepiness and headaches.
Zoloft is a brand name drug with the active ingredient sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. Zoloft is commonly prescribed to treat depression, as well as a range of anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions.
As an antidepressant, sertraline is effective and safe for most people. However, like many other antidepressants, it can cause certain side effects and interactions. We’ve talked about these, as well as other topics related to Zoloft, in our complete guide to sertraline.
Zoloft 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, some research on animal subjects suggests that melatonin may make certain antidepressants less effective, but these effects have not been studied in humans.
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.
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 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. 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 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.
Insider tips, early access and more.