Have you ever been awake just a few moments before your alarm was supposed to go off? Have you pondered upon how you wake up at just the right desired time? The answer to such a question lies in the fact that our body keeps an internal clock that manages all our bodily processes, including our sleeping and wakefulness patterns. When these sleep routines are disturbed, it is known as circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
Humans are designed to follow nature and its routine. For example, during the day, you would feel most energetic and alert, whereas as the day passes, your energy levels drop, and drowsiness encapsulates you as night time prevails. There are several types of sleep disorders counted in circadian rhythm sleep disorders, multiple factors cause this disorder, and many treatment options are available nowadays.
This article will discuss various circadian sleep disorders and their treatments to improve sleep patterns effectively. Furthermore, we will also explore the symptoms of circadian sleep disorder and when it is imperative to consult a doctor.
If you are experiencing a poor sleeping routine consistently for more than a month or feeling less motivated, lethargic, having trouble concentrating or having difficulty falling asleep or waking up, it is time to visit your healthcare provider. Additionally, if you feel like all your energy is drained after waking up in the morning rather than feeling refreshed, it also points towards disturbance of circadian rhythm.
The doctor will recommend various tests to check your hormones levels in your blood and saliva. He may also suggest specific sleep tests to find out the severity of the disorder. Treatments might include light therapies or taking multivitamins. It is crucial to treat circadian rhythm disorder because it can lead not only to more complicated health problems but also increased road or workplace accidents if left unattended.
There are many types of circadian rhythm disorder. A few of these are mentioned below:
1. A Jet-Lag:
Are you a frequent flyer? If so, you must have experienced disturbance in your sleep pattern due to multiple time zones changes. This condition is known as jet lag. It occurs mainly because our internal biological clock takes some time to adjust to the new environment and time zone. You may feel delayed nighttime sleep if you fly westwards and increased early morning awakening if you fly eastwards more.
2. Sleep-Wake pattern irregularity
If you feel frequent episodes of daytime sleepiness or evening insomnia, you might have circadian rhythm disorder. Many doctors are of the view that if you are taking three or more naps during the day, this might disturb your good night’s sleep.
3. Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder
Has someone ever referred to you as ‘Night Owl”? If not, you are lucky; if yes, it’s time to reconsider your sleeping routine. People suffering from delayed sleep phase have difficulty falling asleep at night. Their usual sleep time is 2:00 am to 4:00 am. They wake up late in the morning or early afternoon.
4. Advanced Sleep phase disorder
When there exists a shift in sleep time earlier than desired sleep time, this disorder is referred to as advanced sleep disorder. Patients are also called “early birds”. Their usual sleep cycle is 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm till 1:00 am to 3:00 am, waking up time in the morning, as these people tend to sleep before desired time and wake up before their expected time in the morning.
The treatment of circadian rhythm disorder mainly depends on the patient’s condition and the severity. Treatment aims to adjust your internal biological clock to synchronize with your lifestyle requirements. Following courses of treatment are advised:
Allopathic medicines administered by doctors are helpful for the treatment of circadian rhythm disorder. Some of the medications are mentioned below:
- Melatonin: This hormone is produced in our brain at night. Its deficiency leads to disturbance in sleep cycles. Products like melatonin supplements such as effective melatonin gummies are readily available.
- Provigil: In patients who experience circadian disorder due to shift work, Provigil is prescribed by doctors to diminish circadian disruption effectively.
Other medicines used for the treatment are:
- Non- Benzodiazepine hypnotics
Several treatments are also available, and it is up to you to choose the therapy which best suits your budget and desired results. Some are mentioned as following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi): A psychological therapy that helps you identify and reframe any unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that currently contribute to your sleep disorder.
- Chronotherapy: Adjusting bedtime gradually until the desired time of sleep is reached.
- Lifestyle changes: Explore what drives you, exercise, avoiding nicotine and caffeine. All such changes help mitigate circadian rhythm disorders.
- Bright Light Therapy: Your internal circadian clock is reset by keeping yourself around bright light for specific times during the day.
- Sleep Hygiene: In this, you will learn how to improve your sleep routines, environments etc.