Looking back at the 2020 Hormone of the Year

Every year, we dive deep into search engine trends to try to identify what hormones Americans were searching for on the internet. Then we combine those findings with anonymized data from our customer test results to look back at the year in health trends, from the inside out.

While some people may wish to forget 2020—the most unprecedented year many of us have ever experienced—it might be worth looking back at the hormones that defined how we navigated life last year. And believe it or not, after combing through the data we found one clear winner.

The 2020 Hormone of the Year was...melatonin!

Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, is the hormone that plays a key role in your body’s sleep-wake cycle. It is estimated that 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems, so it’s no surprise that people turned to the internet to find some answers about their melatonin. Taking a sleep aid supplement like melatonin, when recommended by your healthcare provider, could help promote your body’s ability to get to sleep.

Compared to Google search data from 2019, 30% more Americans searched for melatonin in 2020, with an average of 673,000 people looking up the term each month. While we know that sleeplessness is not a new problem among American adults, we were curious about exactly when and potentially why Americans were worried about sleep in 2020.

What was the most sleepless month of the year?

According to Google search trends, interest for the search term “melatonin” peaked in April last year, which could suggest that this was the month when people had the most trouble sleeping.

Considering the steady rise in COVID-19 cases, unemployment rates, and other stressors related to the pandemic during the spring, it’s no surprise that many Americans experienced higher levels of stress and had a harder time getting to sleep at night.

What was the most stressful month of the year?

Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases in response to stress, and elevated levels of this hormone can indicate a number of things, including being in higher stress situations more frequently.

As stay-at-home orders started to lift across the country, many were left wondering if—or how—they would go back to work and potentially risk exposure to coronavirus.

Was 2020 the most stressful year…ever?

While the long list of unprecedented events in 2020 likely impacted every single American, whether or not it can be considered the most stressful year ever is for you to decide. However, we saw the sales of our Sleep and Stress Test double in 2020, which could reflect Americans’ increased interest in sleep quality and learning more about the causes of their sleeplessness.

Your sleep is an important part of your overall health and learning more about the hormones that play a key role in your sleep cycle could help you better understand why you may be having trouble catching Z’s.

Honorary mention: Vitamin D

While some scientists and experts disagree about whether or not vitamin D should be considered a hormone, in our research we also found that people were searching for information about this prohormone like never before. Search terms related to vitamin D and sunlight exposure increased by 69-163% last year compared to data from 2019. But why?

Light-deprived during lockdown?

Concern about vitamin D deficiency and lack of exposure to sunshine skyrocketed during 2020 with search terms like "how to get enough sunlight," "can you get vitamin D through a window,” and “how much vitamin D do I need a day” increasing by 163%, 96%, and 69% year over year, respectively.

Sales for the Everlywell Vitamin D Test tend to dip in the summertime months, but we saw the opposite trend last year. Our at-home Vitamin D Test spiked more than 80% from 2019 to 2020 and May was our highest sales month ever for this test (excluding the holiday gifting season). Taking into account that many states were enforcing some form of a stay-at-home order during this time, these lockdowns may have contributed to Americans’ increased interest in exploring a lack of sunlight or vitamin D deficiency.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are “insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin D for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.” While the potential ties between vitamin D and COVID-19 are still being researched, Americans continue to turn to the internet to stay informed.

Interested in finding out more about your vitamin D levels instead? No problem—we’ve got a lab test for that too! Measure your personal vitamin D levels using our at-home Vitamin D Test. Same process: collect your own sample, ship it to one of our lab partners for free, and get access to your digital results in days.

Everlywell makes lab testing easy and convenient with at-home collection and digital results in days. Learn More