Chronotherapy is the medical term for coordinating biological rhythms (chronobiology) with medical treatment.
Each person's body has its own rhythms that are formed by genetics and influenced by the environment.
Determining the rhythms and how they affect the body to best determine how people will respond to different therapies could make such therapies more effective.
Chronotherapy considers a person's biological rhythms in determining the timing--and sometimes the amount--of medication to optimize a drug's desired effects and minimize the undesired ones.
Our bodies have a built-in 24-hour cycle, which doctors call the circadian rhythm. Researchers have started to realize that these natural rhythms also associated to medical conditions and have implications for treatment.
The medical line of work is starting to use the term chronotherapy for such treatments that work in harmony with the body’s natural time rhythms. The study of the process is chronotherapeutics.
Drug chronotherapy, for the most part, does not involve new medicines but using old ones differently. Drug chronotherapy is the area in which chronotherapy is most advanced, for the most part does not involve new medicines but using old ones differently.
Revising the schedule of the dose, reformulating a drug so its release into the bloodstream is postponed, or using programmable pumps that deliver medicine at exact intervals are some of the simple changes that may bring in enormous benefits.
The Food and Drug Administration regulate drugs that are reformulated as chronotherapeutics.
Advantages of Chronotherapy
- Chronotherapy is drug-free.
- It works fast, especially if you are sleeping several hours later than you want to.
- During chronotherapy, patients often can fall asleep very quickly as soon as they get into bed, which helps their confidence.
- Unlike other treatment processes, it has a beginning, middle, and an end, so you can predict when it will work.
- It gives you a period to adjust psychologically to the new schedule. Sleeping earlier and getting up earlier means taking on a schedule that is unusual for you, whereas with chronotherapy, your schedule becomes strange for a few days, then becomes more and more like normal.
Disadvantages of Chronotherapy
- In some instances, individuals have remained on sleep cycles longer than 24 hours after chronotherapy - they develop non 24-hour sleep-wake syndrome. This does not every time happen, but the degree of risk is unknown.
- You may wake up before you plan to and be unable to fall asleep again.
- Staying awake until your next scheduled bedtime can be uncomfortable. During chronotherapy, you will possibly be less productive than usual.
- You will have to take time off from your normal routine, perhaps using your vacation time.
Plan for Chronotherapy, if you decide to go through it. Medical supervision is necessary, and daily communication with a sleep specialist is strongly suggested while undergoing chronotherapy.
- Make a list of things to do to keep you awake. Tell your friends what you're doing. Turn off the ringer on the telephone when you need to sleep.
- Make a list of places that are open early in the morning and late at night. Get lots of exercise. Take the chance to do things you wouldn't normally do, like watch the sunrise or stay up all night in a cafe.
- Be sure to check with your doctor if you have another condition that chronotherapy could obstruct with, such as if you're taking insulin or other regular medication.
- During chronotherapy, you may feel unusually warm or cold at times.
- Try to have an activity scheduled every day, and get out of the house as much as you can to decrease the isolation.