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Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder Treatment

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder Treatment Options

Once the circadian rhythm sleep disorder symptoms have been identified, it is time to select a treatment. There are 3 main options:

  1. Behavior therapy
  2. Bright light therapy & Sleep phase chronotherapy
  3. Medications (e.g. melatonin)

Behavior therapy

The objective of this treatment method is to change the behavior or, to be more accurate, to change the lifestyle of the person who is suffering from Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder. There are a number of elements which are part of these therapy sessions:

  • Influencing the person to sleep at the correct hours
  • Not taking any naps which may disturb the sleep pattern
  • Avoiding soft drinks, coffee, tea and any other consumable which contains caffeine
  • Likewise eating before bed or loud music can disturb sleep so should be avoided
  • Using the bed only for sleeping or sexual activities and nothing else (this creates a habit or a fixation connecting sleep with the bed)

Bright Light Therapy and Sleep Phase Chronotherapy

In bright light therapy technique of circadian rhythm sleep disorder treatment light is used as a means of regulating or re-adjusting the sleeping hours of the person. Depending if the objective is to advance ahead or delay the occurrence of sleep, this therapy consists of:

  • Exposure to very bright light of up to 10,000 lux
  • Duration of up to one hour per session

The sleep phase chronotherapy works in a little bit similar way by adjusting the sleeping time slowly over days, so for example the person would sleep at a certain time today and tomorrow shift this by 1-2 hours. And so on until the desired correct sleeping time is met through such slow progression.

Medications to Treat Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder

Well this is relatively straightforward. In this method certain chemicals are used which slow down, relax and make us sleepy or, on the opposite side, which make us agitated and fully awake. Naturally the choice of the chemical depends on if we need to delay sleep or advance it in the person who has disrupted his or her circadian rhythm. Below are the 2 most famous ones:

  • Melatonin – a natural compound generated at night and promoting sleep
  • Caffeine – a famous stimulant included in many products keeping people away from sleep