The relevance of melatonin to sports medicine and science

Greg Atkinson, Barry Drust, Thomas Reilly, Jim Waterhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The pineal hormone, melatonin, has widespread effects on the body. The aim of this review is to consider the specific interactions between melatonin and human physiological functions associated with sport and exercise medicine. Separate researchers have reported that melatonin concentrations increase, decrease and remain unaffected by bouts of exercise. Such conflicting findings may be explained by inter-study differences in lighting conditions and the time of day the study participants have exercised. Age and fitness status have also been identified as intervening factors in exercise-mediated changes in melatonin concentration. The administration of exogenous melatonin leads to hypnotic and hypothermic responses in humans, which can be linked to immediate reductions in short-term mental and physical performance. Depending on the dose of melatonin, these effects may still be apparent 3-5 hours after administration for some types of cognitive performance, but effects on physical performance seem more short-lived. The hypothesis that the hypothermic effects of melatonin lead to improved endurance performance in hot environments is not supported by evidence from studies involving military recruits who exercised at relatively low intensities. Nevertheless, no research group has examined such a hypothesis with athletes as study participants and with the associated more intense levels of exercise. The fact that melatonin has also been found to preserve muscle and liver glycogen in exercised rats adds weight to the notion that melatonin might affect endurance exercise in humans. Melatonin has been successfully used to alleviate jet lag symptoms of travellers and there is also a smaller amount of evidence that the hormone helps shiftworkers adjust to nocturnal regimens. Nevertheless, the symptoms of jet lag and shiftwork problems have primarily included sleep characteristics rather than performance variables. The few studies that have involved athletes and performance-related symptoms have produced equivocal results. Melatonin has also been found to be useful for treating some sleeping disorders, but interactions between sleep, melatonin and exercise have not been studied extensively with trained study participants. It is unknown whether melatonin plays a role in some exercise training-related problems such as amenhorrea and over-training syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-831
Number of pages23
JournalSports Medicine
Volume33
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2003

Fingerprint

Sports Medicine
Melatonin
Exercise
Athletes
Sleep
Hormones
Liver Glycogen
Lighting
Hypnotics and Sedatives

Cite this

Atkinson, Greg ; Drust, Barry ; Reilly, Thomas ; Waterhouse, Jim. / The relevance of melatonin to sports medicine and science. In: Sports Medicine. 2003 ; Vol. 33, No. 11. pp. 809-831.
@article{198e4259f8954f0bb6c6675611a1a511,
title = "The relevance of melatonin to sports medicine and science",
abstract = "The pineal hormone, melatonin, has widespread effects on the body. The aim of this review is to consider the specific interactions between melatonin and human physiological functions associated with sport and exercise medicine. Separate researchers have reported that melatonin concentrations increase, decrease and remain unaffected by bouts of exercise. Such conflicting findings may be explained by inter-study differences in lighting conditions and the time of day the study participants have exercised. Age and fitness status have also been identified as intervening factors in exercise-mediated changes in melatonin concentration. The administration of exogenous melatonin leads to hypnotic and hypothermic responses in humans, which can be linked to immediate reductions in short-term mental and physical performance. Depending on the dose of melatonin, these effects may still be apparent 3-5 hours after administration for some types of cognitive performance, but effects on physical performance seem more short-lived. The hypothesis that the hypothermic effects of melatonin lead to improved endurance performance in hot environments is not supported by evidence from studies involving military recruits who exercised at relatively low intensities. Nevertheless, no research group has examined such a hypothesis with athletes as study participants and with the associated more intense levels of exercise. The fact that melatonin has also been found to preserve muscle and liver glycogen in exercised rats adds weight to the notion that melatonin might affect endurance exercise in humans. Melatonin has been successfully used to alleviate jet lag symptoms of travellers and there is also a smaller amount of evidence that the hormone helps shiftworkers adjust to nocturnal regimens. Nevertheless, the symptoms of jet lag and shiftwork problems have primarily included sleep characteristics rather than performance variables. The few studies that have involved athletes and performance-related symptoms have produced equivocal results. Melatonin has also been found to be useful for treating some sleeping disorders, but interactions between sleep, melatonin and exercise have not been studied extensively with trained study participants. It is unknown whether melatonin plays a role in some exercise training-related problems such as amenhorrea and over-training syndrome.",
author = "Greg Atkinson and Barry Drust and Thomas Reilly and Jim Waterhouse",
year = "2003",
month = "9",
day = "23",
doi = "10.2165/00007256-200333110-00003",
language = "English",
volume = "33",
pages = "809--831",
journal = "Sports Medicine",
issn = "1179-2035",
publisher = "Adis International Ltd",
number = "11",

}

The relevance of melatonin to sports medicine and science. / Atkinson, Greg; Drust, Barry; Reilly, Thomas; Waterhouse, Jim.

In: Sports Medicine, Vol. 33, No. 11, 23.09.2003, p. 809-831.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The relevance of melatonin to sports medicine and science

AU - Atkinson, Greg

AU - Drust, Barry

AU - Reilly, Thomas

AU - Waterhouse, Jim

PY - 2003/9/23

Y1 - 2003/9/23

N2 - The pineal hormone, melatonin, has widespread effects on the body. The aim of this review is to consider the specific interactions between melatonin and human physiological functions associated with sport and exercise medicine. Separate researchers have reported that melatonin concentrations increase, decrease and remain unaffected by bouts of exercise. Such conflicting findings may be explained by inter-study differences in lighting conditions and the time of day the study participants have exercised. Age and fitness status have also been identified as intervening factors in exercise-mediated changes in melatonin concentration. The administration of exogenous melatonin leads to hypnotic and hypothermic responses in humans, which can be linked to immediate reductions in short-term mental and physical performance. Depending on the dose of melatonin, these effects may still be apparent 3-5 hours after administration for some types of cognitive performance, but effects on physical performance seem more short-lived. The hypothesis that the hypothermic effects of melatonin lead to improved endurance performance in hot environments is not supported by evidence from studies involving military recruits who exercised at relatively low intensities. Nevertheless, no research group has examined such a hypothesis with athletes as study participants and with the associated more intense levels of exercise. The fact that melatonin has also been found to preserve muscle and liver glycogen in exercised rats adds weight to the notion that melatonin might affect endurance exercise in humans. Melatonin has been successfully used to alleviate jet lag symptoms of travellers and there is also a smaller amount of evidence that the hormone helps shiftworkers adjust to nocturnal regimens. Nevertheless, the symptoms of jet lag and shiftwork problems have primarily included sleep characteristics rather than performance variables. The few studies that have involved athletes and performance-related symptoms have produced equivocal results. Melatonin has also been found to be useful for treating some sleeping disorders, but interactions between sleep, melatonin and exercise have not been studied extensively with trained study participants. It is unknown whether melatonin plays a role in some exercise training-related problems such as amenhorrea and over-training syndrome.

AB - The pineal hormone, melatonin, has widespread effects on the body. The aim of this review is to consider the specific interactions between melatonin and human physiological functions associated with sport and exercise medicine. Separate researchers have reported that melatonin concentrations increase, decrease and remain unaffected by bouts of exercise. Such conflicting findings may be explained by inter-study differences in lighting conditions and the time of day the study participants have exercised. Age and fitness status have also been identified as intervening factors in exercise-mediated changes in melatonin concentration. The administration of exogenous melatonin leads to hypnotic and hypothermic responses in humans, which can be linked to immediate reductions in short-term mental and physical performance. Depending on the dose of melatonin, these effects may still be apparent 3-5 hours after administration for some types of cognitive performance, but effects on physical performance seem more short-lived. The hypothesis that the hypothermic effects of melatonin lead to improved endurance performance in hot environments is not supported by evidence from studies involving military recruits who exercised at relatively low intensities. Nevertheless, no research group has examined such a hypothesis with athletes as study participants and with the associated more intense levels of exercise. The fact that melatonin has also been found to preserve muscle and liver glycogen in exercised rats adds weight to the notion that melatonin might affect endurance exercise in humans. Melatonin has been successfully used to alleviate jet lag symptoms of travellers and there is also a smaller amount of evidence that the hormone helps shiftworkers adjust to nocturnal regimens. Nevertheless, the symptoms of jet lag and shiftwork problems have primarily included sleep characteristics rather than performance variables. The few studies that have involved athletes and performance-related symptoms have produced equivocal results. Melatonin has also been found to be useful for treating some sleeping disorders, but interactions between sleep, melatonin and exercise have not been studied extensively with trained study participants. It is unknown whether melatonin plays a role in some exercise training-related problems such as amenhorrea and over-training syndrome.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0042235747&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.2165/00007256-200333110-00003

DO - 10.2165/00007256-200333110-00003

M3 - Review article

VL - 33

SP - 809

EP - 831

JO - Sports Medicine

JF - Sports Medicine

SN - 1179-2035

IS - 11

ER -