Circadian rhythms are near-24 hour biological rhythms that manifest in all living organisms. Like most living creatures, our human bodies naturally follow the earth’s 24-hour (“circadian”) cycle of light and darkness. The rhythms are one of several factors affecting when we are most likely to feel awake and when we are most like to feel sleepy/be asleep.
Some individuals manifest circadian rhythms that are substantially misaligned with that near-24 hour cycle. They experience sleep problems such as having difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, difficulty waking up, waking up too early, sleeping poorly, and/or feeling too sleepy during the day, which can degrade the quality of the individual’s school, work, and social activities.
In Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder, a significant delay in the phase of the major sleep episode in relation to the desired or required sleep time and wake-up time manifests. The afflicted individual generally does not feel sleepy until the early morning hours and prefers sleeping until the late morning or early afternoon. Adolescents are particularly afflicted with this sleep complaint/pattern. In Advanced Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder, individuals feel tired and sleepy early in the evening and generally have their final awakenings in the early morning. The likelihood of this pattern increases with increasing age.
Other Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders include Non-24 Hour Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder, Shift Work Disorder, Jet-Lag Disorder, and Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder.
In addition to the patient’s history of complaint, multiple tools are available to our Center’s Sleep Specialists to assess sleep-wake patterns, assist in the diagnosis of a specific sleep-wake disorder, and offer treatment plans for the mitigation/better control of such complaints.