What It Is:

Circadian rhythm disorder is a disruption in the 24-hour cycle of biological processes your body goes through-often called an "internal clock". A variety of factors can cause the disorder such as a shift in working hours, pregnancy, acclimating to a new time zone (commonly experienced through "jet lag"), medications and general changes in routine.


While many people can adjust to varying sleep schedules without any problems, some cannot modify their sleep, and can experience a variety of problems. A person with persistent sleep schedule disruptions can experience excessive insomnia or general sleepiness during the day. As a result, they may also experience impairment in their everyday functioning, such as their job, social life, or other areas of their day-to-day life.


One of the most common ways to treat this disorder is through behavioral treatments. Chronotherapy consists of gradually shifting your sleep time until you reach your desired sleep schedule. This can include delaying or advancing the time you go to sleep each night so your body can establish a consistent sleep time. Maintaining good sleep patterns also help with sleep behavior such as going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, avoiding large meals, alcohol, and caffeine before you sleep, and maintaining a healthy sleep environment. If a sleep specialist is needed for this disorder, bright light therapy will often be used. A physician will advise you on the appropriate form of the therapy, as it varies based on your unique needs.