Elderly as a High-risk Group during COVID-19 Pandemic: Effect of Circadian Misalignment, Sleep Dysregulation and Melatonin Administration

Daniel P. Cardinali, Gregory M. Brown, Russel J. Reiter, Seithikurippu R. Pandi-Perumal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The association of age with a higher vulnerability to COVID-19 infection is a subject of major importance. Several factors, including higher stress due to social isolation, diminished melatonin levels with age, and higher exposure of individuals to light at the evening, which reduces melatonin levels and disrupts circadian rhythmicity are relevant for maintaining the circadian health in aged individuals. Properly administered, chronotherapy restores the optimal circadian pattern of the sleep–wake cycle in the elderly. It involves adequate sleep hygiene, timed light exposure, and the use of a chronobiotic medication like melatonin, which affects the output phase of circadian rhythms thus controlling the biological clock. Besides, the therapeutic potential of melatonin as an agent to counteract the consequences of COVID-19 infections has been advocated due to its wide-ranging effects as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and as an immunomodulatory agent, as well as to a possible antiviral action. This article discusses how chronotherapy may reverse the detrimental circadian condition of the elderly in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
JournalSleep and Vigilance
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Aging
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Chronotherapy
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Melatonin
  • Sleep–wake cycle
  • Social isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology

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