6 indicators of a circadian rhythm disorder

When you’re having trouble sleeping, it may not just be your habits that are causing the problem – there could be something wrong with your body’s natural clock. There are a number of that you may have a rhythm disorder, and generally these include having trouble falling asleep and waking up when you need to. Your body works on a daily rhythm of temperature and hormone levels that regulate falling asleep and waking up.

“[A rhythm disorder] is when your biological clock is out of sync with your surroundings, like jet lag when you’re not traveling, “says clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus to Bustle.” There are many types, including advanced sleep phase syndrome and delayed sleep phase syndrome , Non-24-hour sleep syndrome, etc. “

While each disorder is slightly different, they all involve a problematic shift in your sleep-wake cycle. This can be caused by internal processes, but also by external factors such as jet lag or shift work, according to Merck Manual. Finding the cause of your rhythm disorder is important as it can have long-term effects, including an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.

If your sleep is out of whack and your schedule isn’t right, you may have a circadian rhythm disorder. Here are six to look out for, according to experts.


You fall asleep early and wake up in the middle of the night


You can fall asleep on weekends, but not on weekdays

“If you have trouble falling asleep at night before work days that require early waking, but not on weekends where you can go to bed and wake up later, you may have delayed sleep syndrome,” says Dr. Watson. DSP is the opposite of ASP, which shifts your internal clock backward so you go to bed late and wake up late. This disorder tends to be more common in teenagers.


Your sleep and wake times will be pushed back a little each day

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“If you go to bed and wake up a little later each day, you may have a non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder,” says Dr. Watson. Because this disorder occurs because the light is not sending the right signals to the brain, it usually only occurs in people with impaired vision.


You have an irregular sleep schedule

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“If you have irregular sleep, where your sleep is not stable at night but spreads out over the day and night, you may have an irregular sleep-wake disorder,” says Dr. Watson. “This is typically seen in people with neurodegenerative diseases.” Symptoms can include chronic insomnia, drowsiness, and may include fragmented naps rather than long periods of sleep.


You can’t fall asleep while traveling

Jet lag – most of us are familiar with this feeling, and it is also a circadian rhythm disorder. “If you have difficulty falling asleep after traveling east across multiple time zones or having difficulty staying awake after traveling west across multiple time zones, you may have a jet lag sleep disorder,” says Dr. Watson. The more time zones you traverse, the harder it is to sleep, but once you return home your schedule should return to normal.


You work odd hours

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Those who work shifts and work through the night and sleep through the day may have difficulty sleeping. “If you have trouble sleeping during the day and have trouble staying up late at night while working shifts, you may have a shift-working sleep disorder,” says Dr. Watson. This can lead to chronic lack of sleep.

If you think you may have any of these circadian rhythm disorders, talk to your doctor who can help you develop a healthy sleep-wake plan.

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