Is Proper Sleep an Rx for COVID-19?

January 13, 2021

Nothing has captured the world’s attention over the last year than the emergence of COVID-19 and with it, the search for the vaccine, treatments and cures. Dr. James Hamblin, board certified in both public health and preventative medicine, penned his findings in the Dec. 21, 2020 issue of The Atlantic on the mysterious link between COVID-19 and sleep.

Make Sleep a Habit
Dr. Hamblin suggests getting enough sleep is just as important as wearing a mask, washing your hands and practicing social distancing when it comes to preventing COVID-19.

The Role of Melatonin in Sleep
Melatonin is best known as the sleep hormone that regulates our circadian rhythms. Each night as darkness falls, the brain’s pineal gland begins releasing melatonin into our bloodstream to help us sleep. But currently there are eight ongoing clinical trials to determine if there is a real link between melatonin and its significance in lowering the odds of developing COVID-19, much less dying from it. 

A study as early as January 2020 began to use artificial intelligence to look for hidden clues of how the virus invaded cells and what might be done to stop it. Melatonin began to emerge as a way to block the virus. 

Scientists already knew the role melatonin and sleep play in helping to calibrate the immune system and keeping the body’s self-protective responses orderly. While scientists are not recommending that anyone simply add melatonin supplements to their body’s chemistry, rather they are looking at the role naturally-produced melatonin may play in helping you get more sleep, and therefore, a stronger immune system.   

Melatonin as a Tool in the COVID Toolbox 
John Keeley, Shore Medical Center Clinical Education Specialist for Sleep and Balance said, “While melatonin is becoming more common in the treatment of COVID-19, it has more to do with what melatonin brings on, which is sleep. Quality sleep boosts immunity and can help reduce the risks associated with COVID-19.”

Sleep plays an integral role in overall wellness, according to Keeley, and disruption in deep restorative sleep lowers the body’s immune system. In the United Kingdom, the British Sleep Society noted that the pandemic has been linked to a surge of sleep disorders brought on by the anxiety that comes with a devastating global health crisis, the economic impact, worries about their own health and just the isolation that has resulted from lockdowns and social distancing. The lack of refreshing sleep was referred to as COVID-somnia, according to Johns Hopkins Neurologist Rachel Salas. 

Keeley added, “Keeping a normal sleep schedule will help the release of our own naturally occurring melatonin, and treatment of any underlying sleep disorder will help keep your immune system strong.” 

Shore Sleep Center might be able to help you achieve a better night’s sleep. If you think you might have a sleep disorder, take the sleep disorder assessment. For more information on sleep disorder screenings, please call 609-820-9822.