Effect of Light and Melatonin and Other Melatonin Receptor Agonists on Human Circadian Physiology

Sleep Med Clin. 2015 Dec;10(4):435-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2015.08.001. Epub 2015 Sep 7.


Circadian (body clock) timing has a profound influence on mental health, physical health, and health behaviors. This review focuses on how light, melatonin, and other melatonin receptor agonist drugs can be used to shift circadian timing in patients with misaligned circadian rhythms. A brief overview of the human circadian system is provided, followed by a discussion of patient characteristics and safety considerations that can influence the treatment of choice. The important features of light treatment, light avoidance, exogenous melatonin, and other melatonin receptor agonists are reviewed, along with some of the practical aspects of light and melatonin treatment.

Keywords: Advance; Agonist; Circadian; Delay; Light; Melatonin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Melatonin / administration & dosage*
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Phototherapy / instrumentation
  • Phototherapy / methods
  • Receptors, Melatonin / agonists*
  • Receptors, Melatonin / metabolism
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / metabolism
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / therapy


  • Central Nervous System Agents
  • Receptors, Melatonin
  • Melatonin