Sleep cycle disruptors
From jet lag to insomnia, throwing off your circadian rhythm is never a good thing. Circadian rhythm disorders often cause decreased quality of sleep, which can lead to sleep deprivation. Some symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, daytime sleepiness, headaches, difficulty concentrating, decreased cognitive performance, and fatigue.
How you can fix this
Treatment for circadian rhythm disorders may vary based on the severity of symptoms and the specific disorder. In most cases, one of the treatment approaches listed below is recommended.
- Lifestyle and Behavioral Changes: In some instances, certain behavior and lifestyle changes may be all that is needed to treat a circadian rhythm disorder. Behavioral changes may include avoiding naps, caffeine, and nicotine a few hours before bed. Adjusting exposure to light may also help. For example, if you have delayed sleep phase disorder, avoiding light exposure in the evening including light from cell phones and computers may be useful. Maintaining consistent bedtimes even on the weekends can also be helpful.
- Light Therapy: Light therapy may be recommended for certain types of circadian rhythm disorders. Light therapy involves sitting in front of a bright light box for a certain amount of time prescribed by a sleep specialist. The treatment readjusts your body clock and is intended to delay or advance bedtime. The timing of light therapy is based on the disorder.
- Medications: If other treatments are ineffective, medication may be an option to treat a circadian rhythm disorder. Different classifications of sleep medications may be used, such as benzodiazepines or nonbenzodiazepines, which promote sleep. Melatonin, which helps regulate sleep, may also be beneficial. Certain medications may only be recommended short-term due to the possibility of developing dependency.