Digital cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia promotes later health resilience during the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Plain language summary
The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has had health consequences that extend well-beyond symptoms of the virus. Mental health problems are already being observed in the context of COVID-19 and have also been documented during previous epidemics. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of prior digital cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (dCBT-I) versus sleep education on health resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study is a follow up study based on a previous randomised controlled trial [SPREAD trial] for which the enrolled participants were divided into two groups: 358 in the dCBT-I condition and 300 in the control condition. For this follow-up study 208 participants (dCBT-I: n = 102; control: n = 106) out of the total 658 participants were enrolled. Results indicate that 67.3% of the sample reported direct impact from the coronavirus, and 26.4% reported living alone during the shelter-in-place orders. Furthermore, those who received dCBT-I reported less insomnia, stress, depression, and better global physical health compared to those who received a sleep education control. Authors conclude that future research should examine the mechanisms by which insomnia treatment may enhance resilience, and the role of dCBT-I in mitigating the adverse health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
STUDY OBJECTIVES Stressful life events contribute to insomnia, psychosocial functioning, and illness. Though individuals with a history of insomnia may be especially vulnerable during stressful life events, risk may be mitigated by prior intervention. This study evaluated the effect of prior digital cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (dCBT-I) versus sleep education on health resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS COVID impact, insomnia, general- and COVID-related stress, depression, and global health were assessed in April 2020 in adults with a history of insomnia who completed a randomized controlled trial of dCBT-I (n = 102) versus sleep education control (n = 106) in 2016-2017. Regression analyses were used to evaluate the effect of intervention conditions on subsequent stress and health during the pandemic. RESULTS Insomnia symptoms were significantly associated with COVID-19 related disruptions, and those who previously received dCBT-I reported less insomnia symptoms, less general stress and COVID-related cognitive intrusions, less depression, and better global health than those who received sleep education. Moreover, the odds for resurgent insomnia was 51% lower in the dCBT-I versus control condition. Similarly, odds of moderate to severe depression during COVID-19 was 57% lower in the dCBT-I condition. CONCLUSIONS Those who received dCBT-I had increased health resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic in adults with a history of insomnia and ongoing mild to moderate mental health symptoms. These data provide evidence that dCBT-I is a powerful tool to promote mental and physical health during stressors, including the COVID-19 pandemic. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION NCT02988375.
Melatonin: Roles in influenza, Covid-19, and other viral infections.
Reviews in medical virology. 2020;30(3):e2109
Plain language summary
Viruses like influenza and coronaviruses change quickly, making it challenging to develop effective treatments and vaccines in a short time frame. Consequently, the use of generic substances that limit viral effects are of high interest. In this paper, the authors summarize a range of mechanisms in which melatonin can alter the impact of virus infections and infection-associated inflammatory overdrive aka cytokine storm. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is well known for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. It seems highly likely that melatonin can modulate the cellular function of all cells, mostly via mitochondrial function. This is particularly relevant in immune cells. For example, the daytime variance in immune function seems to be closely linked with mitochondrial activity and energy production. Other relevant mechanisms described are the antiviral role of melatonin-induced sirtuins - proteins that regulate cellular health-, the impact of viruses on cell coordinating microRNA, the role of the gut microbiome and gut permeability, as well as sympathetic nervous system activation and the protective effects of parasympathetic activation. Also considered are pre-existing health conditions and conditions that are linked with a decline in melatonin along with ageing, all being groups in which severity of viral infections is felt. This paper may be of interest to those who like to explore in more depth the mechanisms behind melatonin and its ability to influence viral disease progression.
There is a growing appreciation that the regulation of the melatonergic pathways, both pineal and systemic, may be an important aspect in how viruses drive the cellular changes that underpin their control of cellular function. We review the melatonergic pathway role in viral infections, emphasizing influenza and covid-19 infections. Viral, or preexistent, suppression of pineal melatonin disinhibits neutrophil attraction, thereby contributing to an initial "cytokine storm", as well as the regulation of other immune cells. Melatonin induces the circadian gene, Bmal1, which disinhibits the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC), countering viral inhibition of Bmal1/PDC. PDC drives mitochondrial conversion of pyruvate to acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA), thereby increasing the tricarboxylic acid cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, and ATP production. Pineal melatonin suppression attenuates this, preventing the circadian "resetting" of mitochondrial metabolism. This is especially relevant in immune cells, where shifting metabolism from glycolytic to oxidative phosphorylation, switches cells from reactive to quiescent phenotypes. Acetyl-CoA is a necessary cosubstrate for arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase, providing an acetyl group to serotonin, and thereby initiating the melatonergic pathway. Consequently, pineal melatonin regulates mitochondrial melatonin and immune cell phenotype. Virus- and cytokine-storm-driven control of the pineal and mitochondrial melatonergic pathway therefore regulates immune responses. Virus-and cytokine storm-driven changes also increase gut permeability and dysbiosis, thereby suppressing levels of the short-chain fatty acid, butyrate, and increasing circulating lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The alterations in butyrate and LPS can promote viral replication and host symptom severity via impacts on the melatonergic pathway. Focussing on immune regulators has treatment implications for covid-19 and other viral infections.
The Functional Medicine Approach to COVID-19: Nutrition and Lifestyle Practices for Strengthening Host Defense.
Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.). 2020;19(Suppl 1):54-62
Plain language summary
Lifestyle interventions can be an effective means to help patients regain their locus of control during times of uncertainty like those experienced in a pandemic. The study is a review about emerging research focusing on nutrition and lifestyle practices for strengthening host defense. Research indicates that there are three mechanisms that may be involved in the ability of food-derived compounds to reduce viral infection and severity: a. balancing inflammatory pathways, b. reducing oxidative stress and increasing antioxidant levels, and c. harmonizing the gut microbiome. Clinical recommendations focus mainly on nutrition, stress reduction/management, sleep quality and quantity, physical activity programme and social factors/connections. Authors conclude by emphasising that the findings of this study are only intended to identify lifestyle practices that may boost the immune system as they have not been proven effective against COVID-19.
The developing symptoms of COVID-19, as well as the progression of illness and fatality, are a clearly a function of the overall health status of the individual. Complex, chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are directly correlated with risk of disease severity and mortality. We explore lifestyle interventions that have specifically been demonstrated to strengthen host defense, reduce the probability and mitigate the severity of viral infection. Lifestyle interventions, from a Functional Medicine perspective, include nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress reduction, and connection. These factors, when in balance, provide a foundation for optimal health and immune function.