Circadian rhythm

Circadian rhythm
Circadian rhythm determines your sleep wake cycle. Sleep disorders related to circadian rhythm can be described as difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early or waking up during the sleep cycle or being unable to fall back to sleep. We can say Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are a group involving, disruption in the timing of sleep, the common feature that can be noted. These are caused by de-synchronization between the light-darkness cycle and internal sleep-wake rhythms. Patients suffering from CRSD typically have insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, or both, which can be typically resolved as the body clock realigns itself. Diagnosis is clinical, should be done by expert in the field. Treatment depends on the various causes.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of circadian rhythm sleep disorders include:

  • Loss of sleep.
  • Excessive sleeping during daytime.
  • Difficulty waking up in the early morning.
  • Insomnia (difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep).
  • Poor or noticeable down work/school performance.
  • Finding it difficult to meet social obligations.
  • Depression or sad mood.
  • Stress in all relationships.

Types of Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

Delayed sleep phase disorder (DSP): DSP occurs when a person regularly goes to sleep and wakes up more than two hours later, as name suggests delayed sleep phase, than is considered normal. People with DSP tend to be “evening types” or “night owls” who typically stay awake late at night or until 1 a.m. or later and then wake-up in the late morning or afternoon. A person with DSP will have a very stable sleep pattern, if able to go to bed at the preferred late time on a regular basis. DPS is found to be more common among adolescents and young adults.

Advanced sleep phase disorder (ASP): ASP occurs when a person regularly goes to sleep and wakes up several hours earlier than most people. People with ASP tend to be “morning types” who typically wake up early in the morning or between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. and go to sleep early as well or between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. If people with ASP unable to go to bed at the preferred early time on a regular basis, they will have a very stable sleep pattern. As per some researches ASP affects approximately 1% in middle-aged and older adults and increases with age.

Jet lag disorder: As we know jet lag occurs when long travel by airplane quickly puts/shifts a person in another time zone. In this new location the person found it difficult but must sleep and wake at times that are now misaligned with his or her body clock. The severity of the problem increases with the number of time zones that are crossed by the person. The body tends to have more trouble adjusting while traveling towards east than to westward travel.  Jet lag disorder can affect all age groups. It is a temporary condition with temporary symptoms that begin approximately one to two days after air travel across at least two time zones.

• Shift work disorder: Shift work disorder occurs when a person’s work hours are scheduled during the normal sleep period of the person. Feeling sleepiness during the work shift is common, and when a person try to sleep during the time of day when most others are awake can be a struggle to him. Shiftwork schedules include early-morning shifts, night shifts and rotating shifts. Depending on the type of shift, day, night or rotating, diurnal or circadian preferences may influence the ability to adjust to shift work. Risk increases with comorbid medical, psychiatric and other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

• Irregular sleep-wake rhythm: This disorder include undefined sleep wake cycle of a person. The person’s sleep is fragmented into a series of  small naps that occur throughout  day that means, a 24-hour period. Sufferers complain of excessive sleepiness, chronic insomnia or both. A low-amplitude or irregular circadian rhythm of sleep-wake pattern may also be seen in association with some neurological disorders such as dementia mostly in old age and in children with mental retardation.

• Free-running (nonentrained) type: This disorder occurs when a person has a variable sleep-wake cycle that keep on shifting every day. It results most often when the brain receives no lighting cues from the surrounding environment or staying in the dark for long. Occasionally, the disorder is associated with dementia or mental retardation. It has also been suggested that there may be an overlap between circadian rhythm sleep disorder or delayed sleep phase type, and circadian rhythm sleep disorder or free-running type.

Myths and Facts

Myth: Night shift workers can easily adapt to a new sleep schedule.

Fact: In most of the cases of night shift worker it is found that they suffer from sleep disturbances like sleeplessness or insomnia as night shift and daytime sleep disrupt natural circadian rhythm of the person. There can be many more factors which can contribute to day sleeplessness for night shift worker, like family- friend interaction, taking caffeine during day, bright light etc.

Myth: Your Body will eventually get used to Getting less Sleep.

Fact: Insufficient sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness and can take toll on your health. Persistent disturbed sleep pattern or sleep deprivation affects daytime performance, also affects decision-making, and reduces memory, focus, and creativity. With time, insufficient sleep can wreak havoc on diverse aspects of your health including body metabolism, the cardiovascular system, the immune system, hormone production, and of course mental health. Your body requires proper sleep to function well and there is no way shortcut to sleep.

How do you know you need counselling/therapy?

  • You are waking up too early and are unable to go back to sleep.
  • You are struggling to maintain sleep, tend to wake up frequently during night.
  • You are having a hard time initiating sleep.
  • Your sleep is non restorative or none freshened or of poor quality.

Role of counseling& Therapy in overcoming Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

Therapists who specialize in sleep disorders can help you immensely in recovering from such disorders. These professionals are skilled in addressing sleep issues and help in maintaining better sleep pattern with or without medication. They can help you in getting rid of the issues related to disorder through resolving underlying psychological issues using psychotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, family therapy if needed. 

How does TalktoAngel help you in resolving Circadian Sleep Disorders

TalktoAngel is an online platform that provides quality therapy and other mental health services online. We have qualified and experienced professionals working with us. Sleep disorder is one of our areas of expertise. We have experts and specialists who have successfully worked previously on cases of Sleep disorder. Studies have proven that online mental health services are as effective as the conventional mode. Furthermore, at TalktoAngel, we put your needs first. We can help you with flexible appointments, personalized and customized intervention plans all at the tip of your fingers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • If you think you are suffering from the symptoms of Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders, it is best to contact a counsellor/therapist/doctor who specializes in the disorder. Along with the professional treatment, take care of your sleep routine, try some deep breathing exercises before going to sleep, try maintaining optimum light or some slow music if you like while sleeping.
  • In terms of evidences sleep disorders are not found to be a cause of psychiatric disorders. But some researches show that sleep and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression are closely related.
  • Please consult your doctor before starting any medication as there are various side effects associated with medication if taken without proper health checkup. Medications such as follows may be used to adjust and maintain the sleep-wake cycle to the desired schedule Melatonin (available over-the-counter), Wake-promoting agents (such as modafinil [provigil®]) or caffeine, And short-term sleep aids. Tasimelteon (Hetlioz®) is approved to treat non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder.

Having circadian rhythm challenge? consult online with our therapists for better management of your biologicals clock issues.

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