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  • Sleep-Circadian rhythm sleep disorder

    Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are a family of sleep disturbances that disrupt the timing of sleep. People with circadian rhythm sleep disorders have biological rhythms (circadian rhythms) that make them unable to sleep and wake at normal times required for work, school, and social needs.

    People with circadian rhythm sleep disorders are generally able to get enough sleep if allowed to sleep and wake at the times their body clocks desire (unless they also have another sleep disorder).



    A person's desire and ability to fall asleep is influenced by both the length of time since the person woke from an adequate sleep, and by internal circadian rhythms; and if a person has a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, then the desire for sleep comes at inappropriate times. 

    Sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining optimal health, and depriving the body of sleep or its natural circadian rhythm dramatically decreases the quality of life and affects health and longevity negatively.

    Sleep is categorized into stages of a cycle between REM sleep (often called stage 5) and Non-REM sleep (NREM), and NREM sleep is further divided into four stages:

    • stage 1 (a light sleep period)
    • stage 2 (a consolidated sleep period),
    • stage 3 and 4 (slow-wave or delta wave sleep periods).

    Once the sleep cycle progresses through the 4 stages of NREM the cycle progresses back up to REM (stage 5) and then progressively through the 4 stages again. In normal adults, a cycle will last about 1.5 hours, with a total number of about 5-6 cycles per night. However, it is usual for only the first two sleep cycles to progress into slow-wave phases.



    Normally, the rise and fall of the sun affects how the body's natural cycles are activated. When light stimulates the eyes, a signal is sent to the brain that causes the brain, in turn, to activate the hormonal system and release cortisol. The hormone cortisol prepares the body for movement and other daily activities. As the sun continues to rise cortisol levels also will continue to rise, peaking around 9am.

    Cortisol levels stay high until around 12, begin to drop in the afternoon, and continue to do so till after the sun goes down. As cortisol levels drop, melatonin and growth and repair hormone levels begin to rise. From sunset onwards bodies are designed to wind down, and by 10pm sleep generally begins and the body starts its physical repair cycle. This is a very important phase, especially for those that have been doing any kind of physical exercise during the day, as the physical repair cycle is from about 10-2am. Muscles need this time for repair and growth.

    In addition, the time from 2-6 am is important for brain function, neurological repair, and psychological repair. 




    Find out if your personal health history puts you at risk for having 'Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder' --> Click Here to Take an Online Assessment.



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