Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders refer to disruptions in the timing of sleep and wake and the consequences that result form the disruption. We all have an internal clock that regulates certain biological functions over a 24-hour period. That clock is referred to as your circadian rhythm.

Patterns of hormone production, appetite, and cell regeneration are associated with a person’s circadian rhythm, and circadian rhythm disorders can play a significant role in disrupting your sleep-wake cycle.

Sources: ASA American Sleep Association

Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder

Advanced sleep phase disorder is the opposite of delayed sleep phase syndrome. It involves problems staying awake during conventional or socially acceptable times.

For example, people with advanced sleep phase syndrome may fall asleep at 7-8 pm and wake up very early at 3-4 am. The cause of advanced sleep phase syndrome has not been identified, but it occurs more commonly in the elderly.

Sources: ASA American Sleep Association

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

Delayed sleep phase syndrome involves the inability to fall asleep at what is considered conventional bedtimes. For example, people with delayed sleep phase syndrome may not fall asleep until 2 or 3 am. Since bedtimes are much later than typical, people with the syndrome usually wake up later in the morning.

The problem for people with delayed sleep phase syndrome is their sleep pattern may not match their school or work start time, which leads to excessive daytime sleepiness. The cause of delayed sleep phase syndrome is not entirely understood, but it is more common in teens.

Sources: ASA American Sleep Association

Non-24 Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder

People with Non-24 Hour sleep wake disorder have a sleep-wake cycle that is longer than 24 hours. Their sleep and rise times drift a little later each night. Sleep times continue to change and eventually may go all the way around the clock. The condition is most common in people who are blind. It may occur in blind people due to lack of light and dark patterns to regulate sleep.

Sources: ASA American Sleep Association

Jet Lag

Jet lag is probably one of the best known circadian rhythm disorders. Jet lag is caused by changing time zones, which can disrupt light cues and regular bedtimes. In most cases, jet lag is temporary and regular sleep patterns return.

Sources: ASA American Sleep Association

Sleep Shift Disorder

Shift work disorder involves problems sleeping due to your work schedule. In most cases, it occurs due to working overnight or rotating shifts. What happens is when you work overnight, your body needs to stay awake, which goes against your natural circadian rhythm. The conflict between what your internal clock wants to do and what you are forcing yourself to do disrupts normal sleep.

Sources: ASA American Sleep Association

Insufficient Sleep Syndrome

Insufficient sleep syndrome occurs when you regularly fail to get enough sleep at night. It is a result of choices you make that push your bedtime later than when your body expects you to fall asleep. You are normally unaware that you need more sleep than you are getting. Some common examples are staying up to finish a movie, using your phone in bed, and reading a book that keeps you from getting sleep.

Sources: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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