Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

Last Updated: July 30, 2019

Definition - What does Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders mean?

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are a host of disruptive sleeping patterns that interfere with the normal, sleep/wake cycle that normally occurs in a twenty-four hour period. The brain is a self-regulating organ in which it is sensitive to variations affecting its physiological function and responds to biological and environmental cues to adjust the wake sleep cycle. Some triggers for adjustment of the cycle can include going to sleep at a later time, traveling to a new time zone (jet lag), working graveyard shifts, or suffering from psychological or neurological conditions such as depression or narcolepsy. All these factors can adversely impact normal sleep/wake cycle patterns by intruding upon regular activities at home, work, or any other social engagements.

WorkplaceTesting explains Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are characterized by inconsistent sleeping habits that disrupt the sleep/wake cycle, which is a crucial aspect in maintaining homeostasis, or normal physiological activity of the brain that functions as the biological clock mechanism for the body.. For example, many young people are diagnosed with delayed sleep phase disorder, and are colloquially referred to as night owls, because they stay up to early morning hours and then sleep until late afternoon. In other cases, people who live with a chronic sleep disorder like narcolepsy, which causes sporadic episodes of drowsiness throughout the day in spite of whether or not the individual acquires plenty of sleep at night, are subject to a neurological condition outside their control that requires professional medical treatment.

Regardless of the specific disorder under the circadian rhythm sleep disorders umbrella, the results are often safety issues at work, dangerous driving, emotional disturbances, and a general decrease in quality of life if the condition is left untreated.

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