Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder

Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder (ISWRD)

Sleep disorders affect millions of Americans every year. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 25% of adults experience some form of insomnia at least once per week. 

Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep or waking too early.

ISWRD is a condition characterised by a disruption in the circadian rhythms of sleep and wakefulness. 

This disruption leads to alertness, cognition, mood, and behaviour problems. People who suffer from ISWRD often report feeling tired during the day, having trouble concentrating, and irritable. 

They may also have trouble sleeping at night, and they may be more likely to make poor decisions due to a lack of energy.

The exact cause of ISWRD is not known. However, it has been associated with certain medical conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and chronic pain.

 It can also occur after surgery when people recover from an illness or injury.

This blog post will discuss Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder and how it affects your life. 

We will also provide you with tips on dealing with it effectively .

 Sleep disorders

What Is Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the "Irregular sleep-wake cycle" refers to a pattern that differs significantly from what is considered normal. 

The term does not refer to any specific type of sleep disturbance but instead describes a general problem with the timing of sleep and wake cycles.

People who suffer from irregular sleep-wake patterns tend to feel tired throughout the day. They may find themselves unable to concentrate, and their memory may become impaired. 

These individuals may even develop symptoms similar to those seen in people suffering from clinical depression in extreme cases.

People who suffer from irregular sleep-wake cycle may experience:

  • Difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Feeling sleepy during the day
  • Having trouble focusing
  • Being easily distracted
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Not wanting to get out of bed
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor decision making
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Increased stress levels

How Does Irregular Sleep-Wake Cycle Affect Your Life?

If you suffer from Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm, then you might notice:

  • You feel tired all day long
  • You have trouble concentrating
  • You forget things
  • You don’t want to do anything
  • You have trouble falling asleep at night
  • You wake up frequently during the night
  • You have trouble getting back to sleep
  • You have restless leg syndrome
  • You have issues with weight loss
  • You have increased appetite
  • You have trouble maintaining healthy relationships
  • You have trouble keeping your job
Irregular Sleep-Wake Cycle Affect

What is the cause of sleep-wake irregularities?

The primary cause of sleep-wake disorders is the absence of the circadian rhythm that is responsible for regulating the time of sleep and wakefulness.

People suffering from neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease have a greater chance of developing the sleep-wake rare syndrome.

The incidence of sleep-wake cycles is higher as you the advancing age. However, age is not a risk factor. 

Age-related changes in neurological, medical, and psychiatric disorders can contribute to the development of this disorder.

A variety of factors not connected to sleep-wake disorders could temporarily disrupt the sleep-wake cycle. 

They include shifts that are not regular (switching between changes during the day and at night) or frequent movement between various time zones.

Do irregular sleep-wake disorders require medical attention?

The inability to sleep and wake up at different periods and even sleeping for short durations can be due to situations in life and aren't medical emergencies.

When your sleeping schedule can be inconsistent in time and duration, there could be a connection between problems sleeping or waking up during the day. 

Sleep-wake irregularity is extremely rare compared to irregular sleeping schedules.

However, it's good to regularly consult with a physician when you're showing symptoms of the sleep-wake disorder, and you haven't identified as having the disease, particularly if you're at risk.

It is essential when you cannot identify any other factors that could be the cause of the problem.

sleep-wake irregularities

What is the best way for a doctor to identify sleep-wake irregularities?

Your doctor will inquire about your recent sleep habits. They'll also ask whether you are experiencing ongoing problems with insomnia or excessive sleeping during the day.

The doctor might recommend an actigraph or a sleeping diary and one Actigraph to identify the irregular sleep-wake disorder. The asleep log is the duration of your sleep and how often you slept during an agreed-upon time. 

An actigraph is a gadget that resembles a watch and records your sleep-wake cycles.

These devices will monitor your sleep patterns for at least seven days. A physician will be looking at a minimum of three nights of sleep and awakening within 24 hours before making an assessment .

Management of sleep-wake irregularities

There's no one-stop solution for the sleep-wake disorder that causes irregularity. However, various treatments and lifestyle modifications can help. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Be aware of how much light exposure you get. It is recommended that you are in the presence of bright and blue light throughout the day. The time of exposure also needs to be extended. Limit exposure to the blue lights from TVs and computer screens at night.
  • Take supplements with melatonin.
  • Give more structure to your day. It can include scheduling social interactions, exercising, and other events.
  • Create your sleeping space as welcoming and relaxing as you can.
  • Reduce the amount of noise in your sleeping environment.

The objective of treatment is to assist you in sleeping better at night and increase your wakefulness during the day.

Suggested Exams and Tests

Sleep disorders are common problems among people who work long hours. A person needs at least three abnormal sleep-wake episodes per day to be diagnosed with insomnia .

An actigraph can help diagnose sleep disorders by measuring the time spent asleep. People with insomnia often keep a sleep diary to monitor their sleep-wake cycles.

Tips for Dealing With Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythms

Here are some general tips that may help you to combat the Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythms in the longer run:

  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and makes it harder to fall asleep.
  3. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps reduce fatigue and improves concentration.
  4. Eat regular meals. Eating small frequent meals keeps blood sugar levels stable.
  5. Reduce stress. Stress increases cortisol secretion, which causes drowsiness.
  6. Practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation exercises like meditation or yoga help calm the mind and relax muscles.
  7. Try melatonin supplements. The body naturally produces melatonin during sleep. It has been shown to improve sleep quality.
  8. Take magnesium supplements. Magnesium deficiency is associated with poor sleep quality.
  9. Drink plenty of water. Water flushes toxins from the body and helps regulate sleep.
  10. Use an eye mask. Eye masks block light so that the brain perceives darkness as being more profound than it is. It allows the brain to enter into a more restful state.

How can insomnia disorders be caused by circadian rhythms treated?

Treatment options for sleep disorders differ according to the type of disorder and the extent of its impact on your daily life.

The healthcare professional will design an individual treatment plan that increases the chances of getting the treatment you need. The majority of treatments will require a mixture of methods.

Treatment Options are:

Therapy for behaviour and living: 

This approach encourages changes that improve sleep quality and help establish good sleeping habits. 

Good sleeping habits include keeping regular wake-to-sleep times (even on holidays and weekends), avoiding napping (exception for shift workers), establishing an exercise routine that is regularly scheduled (avoid vigorous exercise for at least one hour before the time of bed), preventing the use of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants in the hours before bedtime.

Light therapy with bright light: 

The use of bright light is utilized to speed up or deter sleep. The timing for this treatment is crucial and requires advice from a sleep expert. 

Bright light therapy is a method of resetting your circadian rhythm to become in tune with Earth's cycle of darkness and light. Light with high intensity (2,000 up to 9500 Lux) is required. 

The duration and time of exposure vary between one and two hours.

Exposure to bright light in the morning can help those suffering from a delayed insomnia disorder. 

Also, you should reduce the amount of light you are exposed to in the evening and at night by limiting the lighting in your home and avoiding bright TV and computer screens. 

Being exposed to bright light in the evening can aid if you suffer from a severe sleep disorder (Jet lag).

Light therapy with bright light

Medical Treatment

Medications such as melatonin (available over-the-counter) and other agents that promote wakefulness (such as modafinil [Provigil(r)) and caffeine, as well as short-term sleep aids, can be used to modify and sustain the sleep-wake cycle to the ideal routine. 

Tasimelteon (Hetlioz(r)) is approved for treating non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder.

Chronotherapy

This therapy technique uses the gradual increase or delay (three-hour intervals every 2 days) of sleep duration based on the nature and degree of the condition. 

This kind of therapy requires the commitment of both you and your partner since it could take several weeks to shift the cycle of sleep and wake. 

Once you have the desired pattern established, it is essential to adhere to this regular sleep-wake pattern.

When to see a doctor?

The patient must have at least three abnormal sleep-wake cycles in a 24-hour duration to diagnose this disorder. The interval between episodes can range from between 1 and 4 hours. 

If the diagnosis isn't specific and the healthcare provider is not sure, they might prescribe a device known as an actigraph.

Speak to your doctor. If you're experiencing sleep issues, see your doctor at least once a week, every month, or at any time that raises concern

If you are concerned about the quantity or quality of your sleep or feeling tired and exhausted even though you believe that you're getting enough rest, Discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my sleep pattern suddenly change?

Consult your physician for sleep-related issues occurring at least once a week, every month, or at any time where it causes concern

If you are concerned about the quantity or quality of the sleep you receive or feel tired and exhausted even though you believe that you're sleeping well, discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Why did my sleep pattern suddenly change?

Sleep patterns are likely to change with age. Many people notice that they are more difficult to fall asleep. They get up more frequently at night and later at dawn. 

The total amount of sleep remains the same or slightly less (6.5 up to seven hours each night).

Is it normal for your sleep schedule to change?

In the beginning, you might be unable to adjust to the new sleep schedule. It's okay, and this is normal

It will not be immediately comfortable, and it will take time to become used to. To slowly adjust to a new sleep schedule, it is possible to make changes in 15 or 30 minutes over some time.

What messes up your sleep pattern?

All-nighters, shift work, and jet time can disrupt your sleep routine. But, implementing regular sleep hygiene can help your sleep schedule back to normal. 

Before bed, stay away from light sources and meals that are heavy. You should ensure that your bed is peaceful, quiet, and calm.

Conclusion

Many factors often cause sleep disorders. An experienced doctor can identify which one is causing your problem and treat it accordingly. Your sleep needs may vary depending on what's happening in your life. 

So talk to your doctor about how your sleep affects your daily activities.


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