Ramadan fasting alters endocrine and neuroendocrine circadian patterns. Meal-time as a synchronizer in humans?

Life Sci. 2001 Feb 23;68(14):1607-15. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(01)00966-3.


Muslims must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan. Serum concentrations of melatonin, steroid hormones (cortisol, testosterone), pituitary hormones (prolactin, LH, FSH, GH, TSH) and thyroid hormones (free thyroxin and free triiodothyronine) were documented around the clock at six 4-hourly intervals before Ramadan began and on the twenty-third day of Ramadan (daytime fasting). Time series were analysed with repeated measures ANOVA. Statistically significant differences were found in some variables: the nocturnal peak of melatonin was diminished and may have been delayed; there was a shift in the onset of cortisol and testosterone secretion; the evening peak of prolactin was enhanced, FSH and GH rhythmic patterns were affected little or not at all by Ramadan fasting and only the serum TSH rhythm was blunted over the test time span. These data show that daytime fasting, modifications in sleep schedule and psychological and social habits during Ramadan induce changes in the rhythmic pattern of a number of hormonal variables.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Endocrine Glands / physiology*
  • Fasting / physiology*
  • Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiology*


  • Hormones