Effects of daytime ingestion of melatonin on short-term athletic performance

G. Atkinson, H. Jones, B. J. Edwards, J. M. Waterhouse

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    The immediate effects of ingesting melatonin in the daytime include decreased alertness and body temperature. To date, no researcher has examined whether daytime ingestion of melatonin leads to impairments in variables relevant to short-term (< 10 min) athletic performance. Twelve physically active participants (mean ± s age = 25.2 ± 5.0 years, body mass = 81.4 ± 12.1 kg and chronotype = 33.8 ± 6.3 units) ingested 5mg of melatonin or placebo at 11:45 hours in a double-blind experiment. At 13:00 and 17:00 hours, subjective alertness was measured, together with intraaural temperature, reaction time (two-, four- and eight-choice), short-term memory recall and grip strength. Performance, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and heart rate were also recorded during a 4-km cycling time trial. At 13:00 hours, the mean ± s intra-aural temperature was 0.49 ± 0.79°C lower after ingestion of melatonin than after placebo (p = 0.015), but this difference was not apparent at 17:00 hours. At both 13:00 and 17:00 hours, melatonin reduced (p < 0.05) alertness, short-term memory and exercise heart rate by 1.5 ± 1.8 units, 1 ± 1 digits and 6 ± 9 beats.min-1, respectively (mean ± s). Eight-choice reaction time was also slower at both times of day after ingesting melatonin. Melatonin did not influence time trial performance or RPE (p > 0.05). The effects of 5 mg of melatonin seem more pronounced for mental rather than physical components of short-term athletic performance, although the cardiovascular responses to exercise are affected. Some effects of melatonin were apparent 5 h after ingestion when the hypothermic effects of melatonin had dissipated.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1512-1522
    Number of pages11
    Issue number11-14
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2005


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