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Pediatr Int. 2011 Feb;53(1):29-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2010.03186.x.

Relationship between circadian salivary melatonin levels and sleep-wake behavior in infants.

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Department of Maternity Child Nursing, Akita University Graduate School of Health Science, Akita, Japan.



There have been calls for more aggressive intervention for infants with failure in development of a sleep-wake rhythm. If development of the 'biological clock' in infants can be assessed by measuring melatonin, this may provide a useful indicator of the sleep-wake rhythm development. Thus, we investigated relationship between circadian salivary melatonin concentrations and sleep-wake behavioral parameters in infants.


Sixty-seven mothers who had infants aged 3-15 months were requested to record sleep-wake behavior of their baby for 2 days, and to collect their baby's saliva four times daily in the morning (06:00-09:00 h), noon (11:00-13:00 h), evening (16:00-18:00 h), and night (19:00-22:00 h) for measurement of melatonin concentrations by ELISA.


The mean melatonin concentrations of the saliva were: morning 40 ± 4 pg/mL, noon 14 ± 3 pg/mL, evening 15 ± 3 pg/mL, and night 23 ± 4 pg/mL. The melatonin concentrations, at each measurement point, were highest in infants aged 3-5 months, and decreased as age increased. Morning melatonin concentrations showed a negative correlation with nocturnal sleep duration (P<0.05). Increased morning concentrations were related to early waking time (P<0.05). In infants with open air baths on most days, evening and night melatonin concentrations were significantly lower (P<0.05).


Salivary melatonin concentrations in infants between 06:00 and 22:00 decreased by age, and elevation of morning values may indicate an immature sleep-wake rhythm. Frequent open air baths may contribute to decreased melatonin levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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