What We Are Studying

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the body especially at night and is important for sleep.


The SHIFT Study will study the effect of eating at times when the body’s melatonin levels are high at night on how the body processes sugar (e.g. glucose metabolism) in people who perform shift work and those who do not. We also want to understand if genes may influence this effect of melatonin on blood sugar at night. We are participarly interested in a genetic variation in a gene called MTNR1B. Your genes are passed down from your parents and then passed on to your children. This gene influences the regulation of blood sugar and has been associated with type 2 diabetes risk. 


Your participation along with 1,000 other volunteers may help us learn more about ways to personalize treatment and health related to glucose metabolism.

What We Hope To Accomplish

With the results from this study generated from the data we gather from your participation and that of others, we hope to advance our understanding of the role of the melatonin hormone in glucose metabolism in order to personalize ways to lower risk of diseases related to glucose metabolism in day and night shift workers.

What You May Be Asked To Do

The study will take two weeks to complete and involves the following:


1- Screening visit: 2-hours screening visit including reviewing of the consent form, body measurements and a DEXA scan


2- Test visits: two 3-hours study visits (one daytime and one nighttime). During those visits, we will measure melatonin and test your body’s response to a sugar drink which includes 5 blood draws (totaling 2 tbsp of blood per visit). Each visit will involve drinking a glucose (sugar) drink and five small blood draws (3 tablespoons total) over a 2-hour time period using IV catheter.


3- Wearing an actiwatch, an activity monitor like a FitBit, that tracks your activity, light exposure and sleep for two consecutive weeks.


4- Keeping sleep and food logs for 2 weeks.


5- Completing lifestyle questionnaires.


Study activities may include:

  • Survey

  • Personal health tracking

  • Blood draw

  • Injection or IV

  • Office Visit

  • X-ray

What You May Get

  • Receive a free detailed health report on your sleep, physical activity and dietary intake habits as well as your body composition along with information on how you compare to the US population

  • Earn $100 compensation for your time.

  • Up to $20 in travel/parking reimbursement

  • Travel Reimbursement Including:

    • Accessible by public transportation

    • Parking available

    • Parking reimbursed

    • Local travel reimbursed including ride share transportation

Meet The Team

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Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston gather around the bronze sundial sculpture at MGH, a gift from the 2004 Alumnae Board of the School of Nursing.

From left: Hassan Dashti, PhD, RD, of the Saxena Lab at MGH,   Frank Scheer, PhD, of the Scheer Lab at BWH, Celine Vetter, PhD, of the Vetter Lab at The University of Colorado at Boulder, Marta Garaulet Aza, RD, of the University of Murica, Spain, Richa Saxena, PhD, of the Saxena Lab at MGH, Jose Florez, MD, PhD, of the Florez Lab at MGH, Chandler Tucker, Nicole Polanco and Hailey Warren of the Saxena Lab at MGH.