Circadian rhythm, also known as the body’s internal clock, regulates many daily functions, particularly the sleep-wake cycle. A circadian rhythm disorder is a type of sleep disorder that affects your sleep-wake cycle in one or more ways, sometimes leaving you feeling unrested or exhausted.
If you are noticing symptoms of circadian rhythm disorders in Sacramento or the surrounding area, speak with an expert neurologist at Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California. Find a Doctor today and ask us about our accredited, state-of-the-art sleep centers.
Types of Circadian Rhythm Disorders
At our Sacramento-area hospitals, skilled neurologists, radiologists, and specialized nurses offer comprehensive care for these types of circadian rhythm disorders:
- Delayed sleep phase disorder is when you go to sleep and wake up several hours later than is typical for most people.
- Advanced sleep phase disorder is when you go to sleep and wake up several hours earlier than is typical for most people.
- Jet lag disorder is a temporary condition caused by traveling from one time zone to another. Your body has a hard time adjusting to an abrupt change in sleep and wake times relative to your internal clock.
- Shift work disorder can occur in people who work rotating shifts around the clock — disrupting the body’s normal sleep phase.
- Irregular sleep-wake disorder is characterized by variable sleep and wake times, and may co-occur with certain neurological disorders, such as dementia.
- Non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder (also called free-running type) is also characterized by a variable sleep-wake cycle, but the sleep and wake times shift later with each day.
Circadian Rhythm Disorder Causes
Genetics play a big role in setting your body’s internal clock and the development of certain circadian rhythm disorders. Other factors known to affect our sleep-wake cycle include:
- Lack of light and dark visual cues, sometimes due to geographic location or blindness
- Disruption of a person’s regular visual cues, often associated with jet lag disorder
- Other health conditions, such as dementia or depression
- A rotating or shift work schedule
- Age, both younger and older, because your sleep-wake cycle changes as you age
Trusted Circadian Rhythm Disorder Treatment at Dignity Health
Jet lag disorder will clear up by itself over a few days. Advanced sleep phase disorder may not need treatment if the person can still get enough sleep on the atypical schedule.
Other types of circadian rhythm disorders may need treatment depending on how much the condition disrupts quality of life, including personal relationships and job or school performance.
Our advanced treatment options include:
Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California provides complete care for circadian rhythm disorders in Sacramento, CA and the surrounding areas.
- Behavioral therapy to establish good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding naps or caffeine close to bedtime
- Bright light therapy to reset and regulate the body’s internal clock
- Chronotherapy to incrementally shift the person’s sleep-wake cycle
- Supplemental melatonin, a hormone produced naturally at night, to help regulate the sleep-wake cycle
- Medication to promote either wakefulness during the day or sleepiness at night