Types of circadian rhythm disorders and their symptoms
Delayed sleep phase syndrome: This disorder is more common in adolescents and young adults. Sleep patterns tend to go out of sync, meaning that falling asleep and waking up occur more than two hours after the normal cycle (e.g., 3 a.m. and 10 a.m.). The person may have a normal quality and quantity of sleep, but has difficulty falling asleep and waking up at times that are compatible with daily obligations.
Often confused with other sleep disorders, such as insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders can be difficult to diagnose and often require a consultation with a sleep specialist. To identify the problem, it may be useful for affected individuals to keep a diary for two or three weeks to record their waking and sleep times and describe their symptoms as well as their impact on daily life.
Treatments for circadian rhythm disorders depend on the type of disorder and its severity. Most treatment plans include a combination of approaches, the most common of which are the following:
Lifestyle changes: This approach aims to improve sleep by changing certain lifestyle habits (e.g., exposure to daylight, schedule of a daily routine or planning naps) and developing good sleep hygiene.
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