timesofummah.com – Non 24 Hour Sleep Wake Disorder And What Is This Disorder. Our bodies have a biological clock (circadian rhythm) to regulate the body’s internal time. This natural clock works by following changes in our physical and even mental activity in a 24-hour cycle.
Thanks to this biological clock, we experience a sleepy phase (which then sleeps) and wake up at relatively the same time each day. However, if you have non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder (N24SWD), it will be difficult for you to balance your normal sleep time.
Reported by the Sleep Foundation, N24SWD (formerly called free-running rhythm disorder or hypernychthemeral syndrome) refers to a condition when the biological clock becomes out of sync with environmental conditions. In other words, the body’s internal clock is unable to work optimally in adjusting the dark-light or day-night cycles.
N24SWD can manifest differently in each person who experiences it. The symptoms shown can also vary depending on the severity. The common symptoms of this condition include:
- More often experience insomnia.
- Severe drowsiness occurs during the day.
- Feeling exhausted.
- Sleep late and longer each night.
- Waking up late every morning intensely.
People with N24SWD may not always experience the symptoms described. Sometimes, delayed sleep patterns can get back in sync with a regular day-night cycle. Therefore, the person will probably choose the time of night to fully rest and be active in the morning.
If left untreated, N24SWD can cause sleep deprivation symptoms to accumulate. This can have negative effects such as depression, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems.
Not sure about the single cause of N24WD. Experts speculate that this condition is closely related to the way a person responds to the light around him.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2015 explained that N24WD is most often experienced by people with total blindness. This is because totally blind people do not get light input that reaches the biological clock. They are more prone to failing to notice the light signals that help the body fine tune circadian rhythms.
However, not all totally blind people will definitely experience N24WD. A 2017 report in the journal Drugs estimates that around 55–70 percent of totally blind people experience N24WD. N24WD can also occur in people with certain visual impairments. People who have light hypersensitivity or are insensitive to light may be at risk of developing N24WD.
To make a conclusive diagnosis of N24SWD, your doctor will evaluate your detailed medical history.
The doctor will ask about the sleep-wake cycle every day. From the information obtained, the doctor will analyze the time and sleep patterns.
If the doctor suspects indications of another condition, additional diagnostic tests may be ordered. This can involve blood work or a CT scan. Meanwhile, a special test to diagnose problems related to the biological clock is actigraphy. Actigraphy can help doctors establish patterns of sleep disturbances.
Until now research is still being pursued to reveal the best treatment for N24SWD. The doctor may prescribe certain medications to help manage the condition. The drug that may be given is the type of tasimelteon.
It doesn’t stop there, other treatments that are useful for restoring the wake-sleep cycle can be taken with therapeutic methods. Doctors usually consider light therapy for people with N24SWD who still have light perception.
5. Coping mechanisms
Maintaining regular sleep cycles can be challenging for people with N24SWD. There are other methods that can be optimized to help the body reset the circadian rhythm. Here are some simple tips that can be done including:
- Set a sleep schedule: Involve the same bedtime and wake times every day. Alarms can be used to help set a wake-up time in the morning.
- Maintaining a bedtime routine: Bedtime routines can vary, such as listening to relaxing music at bedtime or turning on a nightlight.
- Avoid eating a large dinner before bed: Eating a large meal before bed can interfere with sleep quality. Instead, choose small, healthy snacks like fruit or salad.
- Avoid consuming excess caffeine and do not smoke.
Non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder can be a condition that interferes with daily life. If you or someone close to you experiences indications of N24SWD, you should immediately consult a doctor.
The doctor will help establish a diagnosis and provide the best treatment recommendations. Remember, don’t wait for the symptoms to get worse which will only bring losses.