Is Melatonin the Answer to Prevent COVID-19?

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Melatonin is having its best year yet. The natural sleep aid already helps millions of Americans find their best sleep by boosting a person’s natural melatonin levels and regulating their circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycles. Now the drug has a front-row seat as a promising candidate for prevention and treatment against COVID-19, the virus that has killed more than 2.34 million people in the world in the last year.

Recently several studies published findings that suggest melatonin as a viable treatment option against the coronavirus. Columbia University found that intubated patients who received melatonin had better rates of survival. Researchers at the University of Toronto found melatonin to increase the efficacy of the vaccine when used as a supplement. Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute findings observed that melatonin usage lowered the chance of a positive COVID-19 test by about 28% after adjusting for age, sex, race, smoking history, and other factors. The goal of the Cleveland Clinic study published in November was to identify current drugs on the market that specifically target autoimmune, lung, and neurological diseases, which are also common coronavirus symptoms and thus could be repurposed for COVID-19. According to Feixiong Cheng, PhD, lead author of the Cleveland Clinic study, these findings may be shining a light on melatonin’s best friend, sleep.

Here is exactly what Cheng seems excited about: Sleep plays a huge part in calibrating our immune system; it produces self-protective responses such as anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, and antioxidant properties. Sleep is often the answer when we feel a little under the weather. When the immune system is attacked by a virus such as the coronavirus, the body with ample sleep is equipped to respond versus going haywire. Except during this pandemic, many of us saw our daily schedules radically change; we drank more alcohol, exercised less, absorbed less sunlight, and became sad, which translates to bad sleep. More studies and clinical trials still are needed, but these early studies seem to link a lack of sleep—thus a weaker immune system—as a potential reason why many mild covid cases suddenly become life-threatening cases.

The question now stands: Should you stock up on melatonin? No. For now, aim to sleep at least 8 hours a night. You can help your body’s natural melatonin cycles by adopting a routine sleep schedule, going on daily outdoor walks, and adopting a no screen time policy before bed. In fact, let’s add ‘more sleep’ to our approach to combatting the pandemic, which should already include wearing a mask and washing your hands.

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Cleveland Clinic studyhttps://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/melatonin-a-promising-candidate-for-prevention-and-treatment-of-covid-19/https://www.lerner.ccf.org/news/University of Toronto studyhttps://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/103885https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9721/8/4/44Columbia University studyhttps://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.15.20213546v1https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201019/Melatonin-may-increase-survival-chances-among-intubated-COVID-19-patients.aspx

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