Efficacy of melatonin treatment in jet lag, shift work, and blindness

J Biol Rhythms. 1997 Dec;12(6):604-17. doi: 10.1177/074873049701200616.


Melatonin has chronobiotic properties in humans. It is able to phase shift strongly endogenous rhythms, such as core temperature and its own endogenous rhythm, together with the sleep-wake cycle. Its ability to synchronize free-running rhythms has not been fully investigated in humans. There is evidence for synchronization of the sleep-wake cycle, but the available data suggest that it is less effective with regard to endogenous melatonin and core temperature rhythms. When suitably timed, most studies indicate that fast release preparations are able to hasten adaptation to phase shift in both field and simulation studies of jet lag and shift work. Both subjective and objective measures support this statement. However, not all studies have been successful. Careful evaluation of the effects on work-related performance is required. When used to alleviate the non-24-h sleep-wake disorder in blind subjects, again most studies report a successful outcome using behavioral measures, albeit in a small number of individuals. The present data suggest, however, that although sleep-wake can be stabilized to 24 h, entrainment of other rhythms is exceptionally rare.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blindness / physiopathology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Travel*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / physiology*


  • Melatonin