Circadian rhythm disorders

Circadian rhythm disorders are most commonly seen in patients who have irregular sleep-patterns (such as people who shift-work), when the normal regulation of sleep is disturbed. In most people the biological clock or circadian rhythm is synchronized with a 24-hour day/night cycle. In some individuals, however, the biological circadian rhythm of sleep and wakefulness is out of phase with the usual sleep-wake schedule, which can lead to insomnia.

Sleep-disorders associated with shift-work can affect people who work irregular hours and shifts, especially so-called 'rotating shifts'.

Individual's whose sleep patterns are interrupted may suffer from both insomnia and excessive sleepiness. This can have a negative impact on mood, health and well-being.

When working shift work, it is important to maintain a regular sleep pattern that allows 7-8 hours of sleep per day and take measures to relax and unwind following night-shift work. It is important also to eat regular meals, eat a healthy and balanced diet, avoid caffeine and stimulants at least 6 hours before sleep is planned, and to exercise regularly during free time.

A pair of ear plugs or an eye mask to block out any sunlight can also make sleeping a little easier. In summer, it helps to attempt to sleep in a cool place with minimal noise or other distractions.