Free-Running Melatonin Rhythms in Blind People: Phase Shifts with Melatonin and Triazolam Administration

  • R. L. Sack
  • A. J. Lewy
  • T. M. Hoban
Part of the Springer Series in Synergetics book series (SSSYN, volume 36)


The study of circadian rhythms in totally blind individuals offers an obvious strategy for understanding the effects of light on the human biological timekeeping system. Early investigations of circadian rhythms in blind people. commonly found diminished amplitude in the rhythms of sleep, temperature and cortisol production [1–5], which were probably the result of averaging rhythms that were out of phase with each other. Subsequently, two single-case longitudinal studies demonstrated free-running plasma cortisol in blind subjects [6,7]. In these two studies, many blood samples (and extraordinary subject commitment) were required to discriminate the underlying free-running cortisol rhythm from background noise produced by stress and other masking effects. Since the plasma melatonin rhythm is not influenced by stress [8] and is an excellent marker for the rhythm of the circadian pacemaker in the hypothalamus, it offers a valuable strategy for studying circadian rhythms in humans, including the blind.


Circadian Rhythm Phase Advance Blind Subject Blind People Phase Response Curve 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. L. Sack
    • 1
  • A. J. Lewy
    • 1
  • T. M. Hoban
    • 1
  1. 1.Sleep and Mood Disorders LaboratoryOregon Health Sciences UniversityPortlandUSA

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