If you take the popular antidepressant medication Zoloft, you might know all too well the common side effect of insomnia. If you've experienced difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep while taking sertraline, the generic name for Zoloft, maybe you've turned to a sleep aid like melatonin to try and help yourself get more restorative sleep. But is that safe?
According to a 2022 survey from SleepFoundation.org, more than a quarter of U.S. adults take melatonin to help them sleep at night. Melatonin is a hormone that our bodies actually make naturally, with levels rising at nighttime so we'll get sleepy as we head to bed (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). But when we do things like look at our phones before bed or not get enough exposure to sunlight during the day, we might be messing with our melatonin levels and impacting our sleep. Taking 1-3 milligrams of a melatonin supplement a couple of hours before bed might help.
As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Zoloft is commonly taken for mood disorders such as depression and anxiety (via MedlinePlus). A 2009 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that SSRIs can increase levels of melatonin in the brain. But researchers aren't clear if this is because of a decrease in depressive symptoms or the actual pharmacological effect of the medication.
In general, more research is needed on the impact of taking both melatonin and Zoloft, according to Hims. Many people taking Zoloft who are experiencing insomnia will end up trying a melatonin supplement, and it's generally considered safe to do so. However, since SSRIs can increase levels of melatonin in your brain, they could also amplify the supplement's side effects (via Drugs.com). Common side effects include nausea, dry mouth, drowsiness, daytime sleepiness, and headaches. Taking the two together could also increase dizziness, confusion, and trouble with concentrating.
If you want to find other ways to improve your sleep while on Zoloft, there are some alternatives you can try (via Hims). Experiment with taking Zoloft in the morning to see if that interferes with your sleep less. It can keep you up if you take it too close to bedtime, so some people find that taking it in the morning is better for them. Get regular exercise during the day, which is good for both your mental health and your sleep quality. Limit your caffeine to morning only, and avoid alcohol, which isn't recommended to take while on Zoloft and can make your sleep worse. Lastly, try to avoid the blue light from screens like your phone or TV for at least an hour before you go to bed.
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