Circadian Rhythm Disorder Treatment
What is circadian light therapy? You’ll find out the answer to this and several more questions about various forms of circadian rhythm disorder treatment from this article. But first, we must focus on what this disorder actually means and how it affects patients. From there, it’ll be an easy shift into discussions about treatment methods and what you can expect.
What is Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder?
If you’ve been struggling with excessive daytime sleepiness, then it’s natural to wonder “how do you fix circadian rhythm disorder?” The first thing to know is that this disorder is actually a number of different disorders clumped together under one umbrella. Regardless, though, you will be struggling with at least one of the following:
- You wake up too early and are unable to fall back asleep
- You can’t seem to stay asleep and will wake up multiple times during the night
- You find it difficult to fall asleep
There are six primary circadian rhythm sleep disorders. You could be affected by any one of these and need treatment for a circadian rhythm sleep disorder.
Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder – Being a night owl who doesn’t fall asleep until late, but then sleeps for 12-13 hours.
Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder – Falling asleep in the early evening, only to wake up very early in the morning. For instance, you might fall asleep at 9 p.m. but then wake up at 2 a.m.
Jet Lag – If you travel, you might experience jet lag. Your sleep-wake cycle will be prone to disruptions, particularly if you traveled eastward across two or more time zones.
Shift Work Disorder – If you work the night shift or go to work early in the morning, you could develop shift work disorder. You’ll experience ongoing tiredness and feel uneasy.
Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm – Having an undefined sleep-wake cycle means you may feel the need to take multiple naps during the day. This disorder primarily affects those with dementia or people with traumatic brain injury.
Non-24 Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome – This happens when your internal clock believes that there are more than 24 hours in a day. Your sleep-wake cycle is constantly being changed, with delays of one to two hours. This happens most frequently in blind individuals.
Circadian Rhythm Disorder Symptoms
There are several different symptoms that indicate you’re dealing with one of the circadian rhythm disorders, including:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Sleep loss
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Poor school/work performance
- Stressful relationships
- Inability to meet your social obligations
You're certainly not alone if you’re wondering how to treat circadian rhythm disorder. Read on to find out how you can get help.
Treatment for Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder
There are four treatments that have shown success at dealing with these sleep disorders. Let’s look at each one briefly.
Bright Light Therapy – People have frequently asked, "does light therapy help circadian rhythm?” The answer is a resounding yes!
You may experience relief from your sleep disorder if you are exposed to bright light therapy at the right time of day. Those with a delayed sleep disorder should be exposed to this treatment in the morning. Alternatively, if you have an advanced sleep disorder, exposure to light in the evening is your best bet.
Behavior and Lifestyle Therapy – As you’d probably expect, this treatment relies upon the patient to make some significant changes to their lifestyle. Developing good sleep habits is an absolute must, along with avoiding nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and anything stimulating before bed.
Medications - Circadian rhythm disorder medication includes over-the-counter melatonin and other short-term sleep aids. Individuals who have non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder may also benefit from using Tasimelteon (Hetlioz®).
Chronotherapy – It can take several weeks to achieve the proper sleep-wake cycle, so you’ll need to commit to this method if you decide to try it. You’ll change your cycle by three hours every two days until you reach the desired sleep-wake cycle. The tricky part is that you have to stick to your desired schedule.
Bright Light to Cure Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder
Bright light therapy for circadian rhythm sleep disorder is one of the four primary methods for treating this condition. It works especially well if you’re suffering from delayed sleep disorder or advanced sleep disorder.
However, for it to work on you, you’re probably going to need to expose yourself to the light for one to two hours per day. It will also need to be a super high-intensity light (2,000 or more lux). This is a process that requires patience and time, but it can cure you! In fact, using a bright light to cure circadian rhythm sleep disorder is one of the easiest ways to start feeling better almost immediately.
Does Light Therapy Help Circadian Rhythm?
As we’ve already established, light therapy can absolutely help you beat a circadian rhythm disorder. At Bright Health, we take your ability to sleep very seriously. That’s why we’ve created the 10,000 lux Light Therapy Lamp. Not only will this help you reset your sleep-wake cycle, but it’s also been shown to assist with seasonal affective disorder.
Visit our homepage today to learn more about Bright Health. While you’re there, make sure you purchase the appropriately sized Light Therapy Lamp and beat your circadian rhythm disorder!