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Circadian Rhythm Disruption

Circadian rhythm disturbance is a common condition.  It is a misalignment of an individual’s current wake/sleep schedule and the endogenous circadian rhythm (one’s biologic clock).

Common Subtypes:

  • Shift worker syndrome
  • Delayed sleep phase
  • Jet Lag
  • Advanced sleep phase
  • Irregular Sleep-Wake Cycle

Shift Worker Disorder

There is a conflict between the endogenous (biologic) circadian rhythm and the timing and duration of sleep due to work schedule.  For more information on Shift Worker Disorder visit our Shift Worker Disorder page.

Who is at risk?

10% of shift workers, 25-30% of all night shift workers, 25% of rotating shift workers. One out of every five workers.

Why is shift work disorder important to treat?

Increased workplace accidents/errors/mistakes, Lower job performance/productivity, Lower job retention/satisfaction, Decreased longevity/mortality, Increased short term and long term liabilities
Increased illnesses/morbidity and increased medical resource utilization/costs –
Metabolic (Diabetes, Hypertension, Endocrine, Cholesterol), Obesity, Infections, Cardiovascular (Cardiac and Cerebral), Depression, Cancer, Workplace accidents (injury to self and/or others)

Treatment of Shift Worker Disorder

See tips on Shift Work and Problem Sleepiness

General Treatment of Circadian Rhythm Disorder:

  • Optimize Sleep Hygiene and Duration
  • Prescribed Strict Sleep Schedule
  • Phase Shifting to Align Circadian Rhythm with work schedule
  • Light Therapy (avoidance and exposure)
  • Medication (avoid or use)
  • Attempt to achieve goal without medications
  • Light and exercise aversion for 2 hours before bedtime