Red light and the sleep quality and endurance performance of Chinese female basketball players

J Athl Train. Nov-Dec 2012;47(6):673-8. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-47.6.08.


Context: Good sleep is an important recovery method for prevention and treatment of overtraining in sport practice. Whether sleep is regulated by melatonin after red-light irradiation in athletes is unknown.

Objective: To determine the effect of red light on sleep quality and endurance performance of Chinese female basketball players.

Design: Cohort study.

Setting: Athletic training facility of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and research laboratory of the China Institute of Sport Science. Patients or Other Participants: Twenty athletes of the Chinese People's Liberation Army team (age = 18.60 6 3.60 years) took part in the study. Participants were divided into red-light treatment (n = 10) and placebo (n = 10) groups.

Intervention(s): The red-light treatment participants received 30 minutes of irradiation from a red-light therapy instrument every night for 14 days. The placebo group did not receive light illumination.

Main outcome measure(s): The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaire was completed, serum melatonin was assessed, and 12-minute run was performed at preintervention (baseline) and postintervention (14 days).

Results: The 14-day whole-body irradiation with red-light treatment improved the sleep, serum melatonin level, and endurance performance of the elite female basketball players (P < .05). We found a correlation between changes in global Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and serum melatonin levels (r = -0.695, P = .006).

Conclusions: Our study confirmed the effectiveness of body irradiation with red light in improving the quality of sleep of elite female basketball players and offered a nonpharmacologic and noninvasive therapy to prevent sleep disorders after training.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes*
  • Basketball / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • China
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Lighting
  • Melatonin / blood*
  • Melatonin / radiation effects
  • Phototherapy
  • Physical Endurance / radiation effects*
  • Sleep / radiation effects*
  • Whole-Body Irradiation


  • Melatonin