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In-Depth: Could melatonin help with COVID-19 infections and vaccinations?

New research looks into drug's effect on virus
Posted at 6:17 AM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 10:42:23-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A new study suggests that how you sleep could determine how your body reacts to the COVID-19 vaccine and that melatonin could be the key.

The paper, published in late January, says that taking melatonin "for at least two weeks prior to vaccination can be a useful approach to improve sleep quality and to ensure that the vaccination is performed at a moment of optimal sleep conditions."

It also says taking the drug for up to four weeks after the vaccine "could increase the potency of the immune response and the duration of the immunity induced by the vaccine. Besides, melatonin could also prevent adverse effects of the vaccination due to its antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties."

"Getting a better sleep absolutely helps immunity which can absolutely help the vaccine," says Dr. Victoria Sharma, the Medical Director at the Sharp Grossmont Sleep Disorders Center.

Dr. Sharma says the pandemic has been particularly hard on people's sleep schedules.

"Oftentimes, when people work from home or they retire, they have less of a set schedule," she says. "They start getting into trouble."

But, Dr. Sharma says research from late 2020 suggests melatonin may not be the best thing to take while you're getting vaccinated.

Papers from the University of Sao Paolo and the Cleveland Clinic both concluded that melatonin could help your body fight and prevent COVID-19 infections by suppressing the immune response and the subsequent inflammation that comes with it.

But, while that may help fight the virus, Dr. Sharma says it would make it harder to develop antibodies, which is the primary purpose of vaccination.

"That actually leads me to think that taking melatonin during the time you're being vaccinated would be counterproductive," Dr. Sharma says.

With no clear answers, all the researchers say more studies should be done with larger groups and in official clinical settings.

In the meantime, anyone looking to improve their sleep in the hopes that it can help their immune system should check with their doctor before starting a new medication.