Effect of light wavelength on suppression and phase delay of the melatonin rhythm

Chronobiol Int. 2001 Sep;18(5):801-8. doi: 10.1081/cbi-100107515.


Different wavelengths of light were compared for melatonin suppression and phase shifting of the salivary melatonin rhythm. The wavelengths compared were 660 nm (red), 595 nm (amber), 525 nm (green), 497 nm (blue/green), and 470 nm (blue). They were administered with light-emitting diodes equated for irradiance of 130 muW/cm2. Fifteen volunteers participated in all five wavelength conditions and a no light control condition, with each condition conducted over two consecutive evenings. Half-hourly saliva sam ples were collected from 19:00 to 02:00 on night 1 and until 01:00 on night 2. Light was administered for the experimental conditions on the first night only from midnight to 02:00. Percentage melatonin suppression on night 1 and dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) for each night were calculated. The shorter wavelengths of 470, 497, and 525 nm showed the greatest melatonin suppression, 65% to 81%. The shorter wavelengths also showed the greatest DLMO delay on night 2, ranging from 27 to 36 min. The results were consistent with the involvement of a scotopic mechanism in the regulation of circadian phase.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / radiation effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Male
  • Melatonin / analysis
  • Melatonin / metabolism*
  • Pineal Gland / metabolism
  • Retina / physiology
  • Retina / radiation effects
  • Saliva / chemistry


  • Melatonin