Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders | Causes and Symptoms

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders - Causes and Symptoms

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders causes:

Mostly a person’s biological clock, or circadian rhythm, is in synchronization with the 24-hour day-night environment.

In some persons, however, the biological circadian rhythm of sleep and wakefulness is out of phase with the conventional or desired sleep-wake schedule.

Some reasons for this breakdown may include the following:

  • When we are young, our circadian rhythms run slow. As we grow, our body releases more melatonin and we tend to sleep more. Excess melatonin can slow down further our body clock which is the reason many suffer from delayed sleep phase syndrome.
  • Light, higher noise levels, and elevated room temperature are not favorable to good sleep and are important variables to consider in both shift workers and night workers. Even when we get the proper light and darkness signals, our circadian rhythms can be thrown off by factors such as trauma from, accidents or surgery. Staying in bed for more than a few days or chronic illnesses can cause circadian rhythms to shift or malfunction.
  • Traveling to other countries can cause the jet lag. The severity of jet lag is related to the direction of travel. Jet lag is the cause of circadian rhythm disorder.
  • Alzheimer’s is one of the common diseases associated with a circadian rhythm disturbance; however, irregular sleep-wake cycles can also be seen in other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • More women suffer from circadian rhythm disorders than men. Women tend to notice problems earlier than men, and their symptoms progress faster. As women mature, their body clocks tend to advance, and women over 40 may experience early morning insomnia as a result.
  • We eat foods that should be avoided at night, and drink caffeinated beverages or smoke destructing the circadian rhythm.
  • Shift work is another cause of circadian rhythm disorder.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder Symptoms:

Individuals with the undetermined type of circadian rhythm sleep disorder also exhibit daytime and evening sleepiness or insomnia, especially those people who have a non-24-hour sleep pattern. People with uneven sleep patterns have difficulty knowing when they will fall asleep and wake up.

Individuals with the jet lag feel sleepiness during the desired wake portion of the day due to the change in time zone. They have difficulty sleeping during the desired sleep part of the day. They also have difficulty altering their sleep-wake schedule to one appropriate to the new time zone.

Individuals with the shift work feel sleepy or fall asleep during the desired wake period, which includes the time spent at work. People with rotating shift schedules, especially schedules that slowly change, exhibit sleep disturbance and wake period sleepiness.

The other symptoms include headaches, poor concentration, impaired performance, gastrointestinal distress and poor psychomotor coordination.


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