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Circadian Rhythm Disorder: Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome

Advanced sleep phase syndrome (ASPS) is a rare condition in which a person sleeps earlier in the evening and wakes up early in the morning compared to the normal sleep-wake cycle of a person. This syndrome usually occurs in the elderly.

Symptoms of ASPS

  • Drowsiness even before the desired bedtime or inability to sleep again after waking up very early in the morning.
  • The symptoms have been present for at least three months
  • Compared to the average person, the melatonin levels and the core body temperature’s cycle of a person with ASPS becomes earlier

Patients would usually complain about insomnia – because they cannot go back to sleep after waking up in the morning, or they will complain about not being able to stay awake in the evening.

One of the potentially dangerous effects of ASPS

Falling asleep while driving is an effect of ASPS which is very dangerous.

Nevertheless, this type of circadian rhythm disorder is not like the others, because a person with ASPS will still be able to have a normal amount of sleep. The only problem is the time of sleeping.

The typical onset of drowsiness for a person with ASPS is around 6pm to 8pm, and he will probably wake up at around 1am to 3am. The person still gets 7-8 hours of sleep in a day.

Effects of ASPS on a Person’s Daily Living

Negative personal and social consequences can occur because of the fact that the person may have to leave activities early because of the early onset of drowsiness. This may also cause decrease in the person’s self-esteem since there are times when falling asleep is unavoidable especially in social gatherings.

One serious effect of this syndrome is falling asleep while driving. People with ASPS who attempt to work late at night will have difficulty doing it. If the person is forced to stay up late, this may result to chronic sleep deprivation or daytime sleepiness.

Treatments for ASPS

The treatments for ASPS are either chronotherapy or bright light therapy. Chronotherapy has been found to be more effective than the bright light therapy.

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