American Sleep Association Forums General Public Circadian Rythms Chronotherapy-gctid743

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    Wondering if anyone has had any success using "chronotherapy"? I was told that it might help people with insomnia caused by working night shifts for several years. My sleep Doctor told me to start by staying up until I got drowsy, no matter what the hour, then going to bed. Then, beginning the next night, stay up 1 hour longer, continuing the process until it gets back to 10 or 11pm. It could take a couple of weeks or longer to complete the therapy. I haven’t tried the complete cycle yet, just stayed up until I got tired enough to sleep, and found that I got maybe 5 to 6 hours uninterrupted sleep, but couldn’t set aside 2 weeks to go all the way around.



    The other important part of this strategy is that you much modulate you light exposure. Light is a very important time cue.
    You should get bright light (walk outside) when you wake up, and limit bright light during the hours before bedtime.



    It’s interesting that chronotherapy is prescribed to a person who doesn’t have Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD) or another Circadian Rhythm Disorder (CRD)! People with DSPD were often prescribed chronotherapy but shouldn’t be anymore, as it too often leads to the much more debilitating Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (Non-24).

    Though Non-24 in the totally blind (notable in much advertising the last couple of years) and Non-24 in the sighted share the same name; they do not have the same cause(s). Non-24 in the totally blind is easily explained; it is secondary to the lack of light perception.

    Non-24 in sighted people appears to be closely related to DSPD. I suspect that as soon as one of them is properly described, the other will be, too. They appear to be genetic.

    The above considerations should not impact a situation where a person has circadian dysregulation caused by shift work, I’d think. You do not have a "regular" or classic CRD, so the cautions probably don’t apply and the treatment may be worth trying. I agree with user "parc" in an earlier comment about the timing of light exposure (it’s good advice for all sighted people for that matter). In addition, if you get a result that seems to be working, I’d recommend sticking very strictly to the normalized schedule for a long time measured in months. That is, don’t try a late night out before you’re quite certain that your new schedule is set.

    Please report back in a month or three about how this went. It seems to be a novel use for chronotherapy so it will be interesting to hear how it goes.



    I’ve suffered from Shift Work Sleep Disorder for a long long time. I’ve used light therapy, which helped. But simply changing my behaviour (retime rescission therapy for example) also helped. Professor Lack from Flinders University has written a great (and free!) book on this. You can download here OR I also think you can get a copy from Amazon.

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