There are plenty of people who will go to bed every night and sleep until the morning. However, those with irregular sleep-wake syndrome undergo disturbed, sometimes unstructured sleep. You are expected to sleep for less than 4 hours at a time if you have an irregular sleep-wake syndrome. Within a 24-hour cycle, you can have many sleep sessions.

Yet you’re not considered sleep-deprived if you have this condition, you get an acceptable amount of sleep. However, rather than concentrating on 7 or 8 hours, the sleep is distributed over a 24-hour cycle. In this disorder, throughout the day, you can have concerns with both insomnia and drowsiness.

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What is an irregular sleep-wake syndrome? 

One of the circadian rhythm disturbances is irregular sleep-wake rhythm. People with these conditions have sleep times that appear to be out of sync. Their sleep cycles do not suit the overnight “normal” sleep hours. Sleep is so disorganized that there is no consistent sleep or wake cycle for patients with an abnormal sleep-wake rhythm.

In a series of naps 24-hours, individuals with an abnormal sleep-wake cycle can sleep off and on. The rhythm of sleep is broken up into pieces. This is similar to children who will sleep for a couple of hours and then be up for a couple of hours. If all of the sleep time is summed up, the average sleep time for that age could be normal.

It can sound like they are tired during the day because they nap too much. It may look like they have insomnia during the night because they are up during the night for long periods. All-day and all night, their sleep is split up into pieces. There is not one key cycle of sleep that happens at every time of day.

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Sleeping normally and circadian rhythms

To properly understand irregular sleep-wake syndrome, it’s important to know a bit about circadian patterns and their connection to sleep.

Circadian rhythms are physical, psychological, and behavioral rhythms that are inherent to the person and react to light and darkness for about 24 hours. Your body has a 24-hour internal clock, practically. A variety of processes are regulated by this clock, including sleep-wake cycles.

Melatonin is a brain-manufactured chemical that makes you feel sleepy. At night, when it’s dark, this hormone is secreted in larger quantities. The control of regular sleep-wake cycles is important.

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What are the causes of irregular sleep-wake syndrome?

A near lack of the circadian rhythm responsible for controlling cycles of wakefulness and rest is the underlying cause of the irregular sleep-wake syndrome.

There is an elevated chance of experiencing irregular sleep-wake syndrome in individuals with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

With age, the prevalence of intermittent sleep-wake syndrome improves. Age itself, though, isn’t a risk factor. The progression of this disease is aided by age-related changes in physical, neurological, and mental conditions.

The sleep-wake cycle can be momentarily disturbed by any variables irrelevant to the irregular sleep-wake syndrome. This involves daily work hours (switching between day and night shifts) and repeated trips between various time zones.

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Effects of Irregular sleep-wake syndrome 

A recent study shows that erratic sleeping habits can adversely influence the metabolism of the body, particularly catch-up sleep, which regulates how we work and use energy. It also places us at a greater risk of diabetes-like chronic diseases.

In the research, funded in part by NIH, 36 individuals were split into three categories. Up to nine hours a night, one team slept. Another category was only permitted to sleep five hours each night. During the week, the third group slept five hours a night and slept late on the weekend.

The results after two weeks were clear. The sleep deprivation group and the weekend rehabilitation group both added weight and had diminished insulin sensitivity, impairing their sugar production capacity.

The main takeaway, the investigators of the study conclude, is that “weekend recovery sleep does not appear to be an effective countermeasure” to reversing the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on the metabolism of the body. In reality, when they went back to the restricted sleep schedule, sleep was disrupted even more in the weekend rehabilitation party.

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Would you need medical attention for irregular sleep-wake syndrome?

Owing to living conditions, sleeping and waking at odd hours and sleeping for brief periods may occur and are not medical emergencies.

When the timing and amount of the sleep schedule are unpredictable, trouble sleeping and daytime sleepiness may be related. In contrast with erratic sleep planning, irregular sleep-wake syndrome is very rare.

However, if you display symptoms of irregular sleep-wake syndrome regularly and have not been diagnosed with the condition yet, especially if you have risk factors, you might want to see a doctor.

This is crucial if you can’t think of any reasons for this pattern of disturbed sleep. 

How is the doctor going to diagnose sleep-wake disorders?

You will be asked by your psychiatrist about your latest sleeping habits. They’ll even inquire about recurring problems during the day with insomnia or prolonged sleepiness.

A sleep journal and an actigraph can be used by your doctor to help diagnose irregular sleep-wake syndrome. A sleep diary entails maintaining a journal of how long you spent over a specified time and when. An actigraph is a gadget that resembles a watch and records the rhythms of your sleep-wake.

These measures will usually be used for at least 7 days to monitor your sleep. To make a diagnosis, a doctor will search for a minimum of three periods of sleeping and waking within a 24-hours.

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Managing sleep-wake disorders

For irregular sleep-wake syndrome, there’s no easy solution. Several therapies and lifestyle improvements can assist. Such tips are here:

  • Watch the light exposure. During the day, you can be exposed to bright light and blue light. The exposure time can also be expanded. Limit the blue light penetration at night from the TV and computer screens.
  • Take vitamins containing melatonin.
  • To your day, add more framework. This may involve social activity, fitness, and other tasks.
  • Get your sleeping space as relaxed and welcoming as possible.
  • Reduce the volume of sound in your sleeping area.

The end aim of therapy is to help you sleep at night better and improve daytime wakefulness. It takes efforts that you will have to put in under your doctor’s guidance as one can’t magically and instantly heal irregular sleep-wake syndrome.