Non-24 Hour Sleep Wake Disorder

Non-24 Hour Sleep Wake Disorder, also called non-24, is a sleep disorder that works in cycles. It occurs when you have issues with your circadian rhythm and your internal body clock becomes unbalanced.

Most people’s body clocks run for 24 hours or slightly longer, but when a person has Non-24 Sleep Wake Disorder, their body clock is significantly longer or shorter. This creates cycles of insomnia and cycles of sleeping well. Low energy and excessive sleeping during the day are very common.

What Are the Symptoms?

With Non-24 Hour Sleep Wake Disorder, there are a lot of similar symptoms as other sleep disorders. Some of the more common symptoms that present themselves are excessive daytime sleepiness, cyclic insomnia where you are very tired and then very awake, and abnormalities related to the 24-hour day and night cycle.

Because with Non-24, there are cycles of poor sleep and cycles of good sleep, the cyclic nature is the best way to tell the difference between Non-24 and other sleeping disorders. It can be hard to diagnose without these unique sleeping and insomnia patterns. Therefore, it is a good idea to record your sleep patterns each day, and lifestyle choices surrounding those patterns, in order to look for symptoms of Non-24.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Non-24 is misdiagnosed frequently, so you should seek a health professional with experience dealing with sleep disorders. Proper diagnosis begins with a physical exam to rule out other possible causes for the sleep disturbances, as well as to learn about the  symptoms you are experiencing.

You will also need to provide your history and if you have ever had problems with sleeping of this nature. When the doctor thinks you have a problem with your internal body clock, they will ask you to keep a record of your sleep for several weeks or months, which is why keeping a daily record is good to start as soon as you can.

What Are the Treatment Options?

The focus of treatment for Non-24 Sleep Wake Disorder is to reprogram your body’s internal clock so that it fits the typical 24-hour day night cycle. There are a few different treatment options, including:

Phototherapy.  Light exposure through phototherapy is one of the top treatments that doctors suggest for non-24. Light exposure is important to humans and various other mammals in order to correct the timing of the internal body clock. If the person has sight and they have a Non-24 circadian rhythm, light therapy, also referred to as bright light therapy, can correct the delay. However, for blind patients with Non-24, light exposure therapy is not always useful, and they must try one of the other options.

Medications. Another treatment option for Non-24 sleep-wake disorder is taking certain medications. The medication Tasimelteon has been approved by the FDA for treating Non-24 Sleep-Wake Disorder in those who are blind and those who have their sight. It helps target the melatonin receptors in the brain that control the sleep-wake cycle.

Melatonin.  Melatonin can also be suggested for both sighted and blind patients, which is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. It can help provide results similar to light exposure, but works for those without sight as well.

If you find that you sleep well for a day, then have insomnia for a day, and it continues indefinitely in this fashion, see your doctor to find out if you have Non-24 Sleep-Wake Disorder.

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