Myths About Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Sleep is an integral component of your physical health and emotional well-being. It is recommended that adults get between 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night. With the hustle and bustle of life this can be really difficult. There are some helpful tips and unfortunate myths about how to achieve a good night’s sleep. Below you will find the most common myths about circadian rhythm disorders.

Myths About Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Circadian rhythm problems occur when your body’s internal clock is out of sync with your environment. Your body’s internal clock tells you when it’s time to fall asleep or stay awake. This disruption can impact your daily life due to the negative consequences associated with poor sleep.

Myth–Circadian Rhythm Disorders All Begin the Same Way

It is a myth that circadian rhythm disorders all begin the same way. In fact, there are six different types of circadian rhythm disorders. They each fall into one of two categories, intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic disorders are caused by one’s natural circadian rhythm differing from the normal 24-hour light-dark cycle. Most people sleep during the dark hours and sleep during the light hours. On the other hand, extrinsic disorders are more circumstantial. They are often caused by something that affects your natural circadian rhythm, such as jet lag or changing to shift work.

Myth–Any Nap Is Helpful

The truth is that naps can be helpful, but it depends entirely on when and how the nap is taken. Exposure to light and dark on a daily basis contributes to one’s circadian rhythm. It also helps you stay aligned with the 24-hour cycle of light and dark. Melatonin is a chemical our body naturally produces that induces sleep as it makes you tired. It is created through exposure to light and dark and should set in once it gets dark out. Research has shown that napping in the dark in the morning hours can help change your levels of melatonin and help shift your circadian rhythm.

Myth–Coffee Can Reduce Your Symptoms

You may want to grab just one more cup of coffee to get you through the afternoon slump. However, coffee later on in the day can delay your circadian rhythm and exacerbate your sleep issues. It’s best to minimize your caffeine and avoid drinking any at least 6 hours before you want to go to sleep. Overcompensating with caffeine can be harmful to your sleep cycle and your overall health.

Myth–You Can Easily Adapt to New Sleep Schedules

Shift work is sometimes necessary depending on the industry you are in. Whether it’s a swing shift or a night shift, the change can be a serious adjustment when it comes to your sleep. Many people think they can easily adjust to their new schedule. However, nearly one-third of shift workers complain about their sleep issues. Adjusting to your new schedule is possible, but it takes a lot of effort and experimentation with sleep strategies to see what works for you.

Myth–Circadian Rhythms Do Not Change

Just like with so many other aspects of life, your circadian rhythm also changes as you age. Natural aging means that you won’t get as much deep sleep as you did when you were younger. You will also likely wake up a lot more at night. Despite the natural changes in sleep as you get older, it can still be a cause for concern if it is impacting your daily life. No matter what age you are, it’s important to talk with a sleep doctor in New York City if you have serious sleep issues. If your daily activities are difficult to get through or if your sleep issues have lasted for more than 4 weeks, it’s time to contact a professional.

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