The effects of nocturnal life on endocrine circadian patterns in healthy adults

Life Sci. 2003 Sep 26;73(19):2467-75. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(03)00628-3.


We observed the 24-hour patterns of endocrine in medical students who lived either a diurnal life or nocturnal life. Nocturnal life was designed by skipping their breakfast but consuming much (>50% of their daily food intake) in the evening and at night with the sleep from 0130 h to 0830 h the next morning. After 3 weeks in the experimental life, the 24-hour plasma concentrations of melatonin, leptin, glucose and insulin were measured every three hours. Both plasma melatonin and leptin showed peaks at 0300 h in the diurnal lifestyle group, and the night peaks decreased in the nocturnal lifestyle group. The changes in the patterns of melatonin and leptin were highly consistent with that of night-eating syndrome (NES). Plasma glucose increased after all meals in both groups. Its concentration maintained a high level in the nocturnal lifestyle group between midnight and early morning while insulin secretion decreased markedly during this period. Furthermore, the strong association between glucose and insulin in the diurnal lifestyle group after meals was damaged in the nocturnal lifestyle group. It was suggested that nocturnal life leads to the impairment of insulin response to glucose. Taking these results together, nocturnal life is likely to be one of the risk factors to health of modern people, including NES, obesity and diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Dyssomnias / blood*
  • Dyssomnias / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Male
  • Melatonin / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Melatonin