- A surprising new weapon for your immune system
- How the sleep hormone could help prevent serious outcomes from getting Covid-19
- Easy ways to induce melatonin production
There has been a LOT of big news recently.
I mean, it’s crazy out there right now.
From the situation in the USA… to the escalating rampage of coronavirus… there is so much information to take in.
But even so…
I’m really surprised that what I’m about to tell you isn’t a bigger health story.
Because the implications are huge – potentially as significant as all the conversations the media have been having about vitamin D preventing coronavirus.
You see, last year, a data analyst named Feixiong Cheng at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, was researching the structure of the virus to work out how it invaded our cells, and what could prevent that from happening.
He was shocked to find that the one standout factor was…
How the ‘sleep hormone’ could help prevent serious Covid-19 infection
Now, you’ve probably heard of melatonin before, particularly if you’ve suffered from insomnia.
It’s the hormone which regulates our ‘circadian rhythms’ – the cycle of wakefulness and rest I was talking about in last Sunday’s Good Life Letter.
If you remember, in that email I revealed how the lockdown in winter was disrupting the cues our bodies take from light and darkness.
Being stuck indoors most of the time with electric light means that we don’t get those cues as strongly.
This is causing an increase in sleep problems.
You see, when darkness falls at night, it triggers our brain’s pineal gland to release melatonin into our blood stream, which makes us sleepy.
Well, going back to Feixiong Cheng’s research, melatonin might do more than that.
According to his findings, it was somehow helping to protect the bodies of coronavirus sufferers from serious outcomes.
When he published his extraordinary data, many scientists explained why they thought this was happening.
They explained that as well as inducing sleep, melatonin helps to stop the immune system from over-reacting to infections – which is the main reason why mild coronavirus cases suddenly become critical.
Effectively, the immune system goes haywire.
But people with more melatonin in their system did not tend to have this serious reaction.
For instance, a study at Columbia University published in October showed that patients on ventilators had better survival rates if they were given doses of melatonin.
So this could be a hugely important weapon for our immune system, to prevent serious illness after catching coronavirus – just like vitamin D appears to be.
Easy ways to induce melatonin production
- A warm bath every night is one of the simplest methods you can use to help get a good night’s sleep. It raises your body temperature while you are in the bath. But when you get out, your body begins to cool very quickly. A drop in body temperature is a major trigger for the production of melatonin.
- Add structure to your day to help your body with its circadian rhythms. Aim to wake up and go to bed at roughly the same time each day. Try and eat your meals at regular times. Tricia Hersey, the founder of an organization called the Nap Ministry says that even “small daily rituals can help”. For example, have a cup of tea in a specific place at a certain time. Light a candle and listen to a soothing piece of music at a specific time every evening.
- Zinc helps your body convert tryptophan into serotonin. This is then turned into melatonin. To get more zinc eat plenty of shellfish – in particular, oysters. You can also try legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans. Heating, soaking or fermenting legumes increase the zinc’s bioavailability, which means your body will better absorb it. Seeds like hemp, pumpkin, squash and sesame also contain decent amounts of zinc.
- Eating two kiwi fruits an hour before bed might be the key to a longer, better quality sleep. This might be down to high levels of antioxidants and serotonin in these fruits. In one study, insomnia sufferers who ate kiwi fruit before bed each night got an extra hour of sleep.
- Vitamin B12 helps to make more serotonin, the neurotransmitter that gives you a melatonin boost. For the best supplemental form of this, try Together Health’s B-Complex Vitamins which contain vitamin B12 in the form of methylcobalamin – the best and most absorbable form of B12. Click here for more details.
- Magnesium can boost your serotonin production which also increases melatonin production. Just take the supplement before 6 pm and not later in order to get the best out of it as a sleep aid. You can get hold of some from our shop here
- Calmophytum (as I mentioned last Sunday) is a blend of natural herbal sedatives, which we stock in the shop, and can help you with a better quality of sleep. Find out more here.
I’ll keep track of this melatonin story as it unfolds, but the signs are promising.
The Atlantic magazine even went so far as to say that “sleep could also be a key to ending the pandemic”.
I’m sure it won’t be a magic bullet on its own, but if we improve our sleep, eat a varied diet with plenty of veg, and keep taking the vitamin D supplements, we at least give our bodies the best fighting chance.