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What are circadian rhythm sleep disorders?

Alon Avidan, MD
Neurology
Circadian rhythm disorders are usually defined by a mismatch between the circadian clock cycle and what your cycle demonstrates. For example, if you go to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning and can't get up until 10 or 11 a.m. the next day, that's a delayed sleep phase syndrome, a disorder that often manifests with daytime sleepiness and insomnia.
A circadian rhythm sleep disorder is when the sleep schedule in your internal body is a mismatch for what's going on in the outside world. In this video, sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD, explains this disorder and shares some tips for treating it. 
Circadian rhythm disorder refers to a group of conditions in which the body's natural psychological and biological rhythms are disrupted. They are very common; shift workers who work nontraditional hours are particularly vulnerable to this condition. About 15% of Americans are shift workers.

Other people at risk for circadian rhythm disorders are frequent travelers who experience jet lag, those with irregular sleep patterns, teenagers and people with a genetic predisposition for this condition.
The term "circadian sleep disorders" refers to a variety of problems with sleep, all involving disturbances in the timing of when person sleeps and is awake. You may have a circadian rhythm disorder if you like to go to bed late and sleep late, like to go to bed early and wake up early, do shift work and struggle with staying awake at work or other times (or sleeping when it's time to sleep), recently traveled to another time zone (jet lag), or have a very irregular sleep-wake rhythm.
Scott M. Leibowitz, MD
Sleep Medicine
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders occur when there is a misalignment between the timing of your sleep and the timing of your life. Watch this video to learn more from Dr. Scott Leibowitz about circadian rhythm sleep disorders.



Circadian rhythm sleep disorders happen when your body clock is not in synch with day and night. People tend to sleep at night, when it is dark, and be awake during the day, when it is light. The body's circadian rhythms may be disturbed when this natural pattern is not followed, leading to sleep problems like not being able to fall asleep, or not being able to wake up normally. Common situations that can lead to circadian rhythm sleep disorder include having jet lag or working at night.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.