Circadian rhythm sleep disorder is associated with the body’s internal sleep-wake rhythms and the light-dark cycle. While patients may exhibit symptoms similar to those of sleep disorder insomnia, circadian rhythm sleep disorder occurs either in combination with insomnia or as an isolated condition with excessive sleepiness during the daytime. Excessive sleepiness needs treatment, though the body clock can sometimes be realigned by changing habits.
The top drugs for the treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorder include:
Treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorder includes drugs and medications that contain the hormone melatonin, approved by the FDA as a dietary supplement and available over-the-counter. Melatonin is a naturally occurring biological sleep-aid secreted by the pineal gland.
Using circadian rhythm sleep disorder medication is a little tricky as the chosen drug formulations must allow patients to resume their normal cycles of sleep upon the cessation of the drug without causing any withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, doctors and medical practitioners administer melatonin and ask patients to cut back on their caffeine intake as caffeine may prevent sound sleep.
Tasimelteon is a drug that acts as a short-term sleep aid that has proven beneficial for the treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorder. It has successfully concluded Phase III trials.
Chronotherapy is seen as an aid that enhances the efficacy of the drugs employed in treating sleep-wake schedule disorder. Chronotherapy has been shown to progressively advance or delay overall sleep time by at least one to two hours per day, on average.
Benzodiazepines are chemical agents that help in the treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Benzodiazepines are preferred by doctors over barbiturates because benzodiazepines are relatively less toxic and have a much higher clinical efficacy. Circadian rhythm sleep disorder medication based on benzodiazepine is rapid in its action and provides faster and quicker relief. There are two classes of benzodiazepine-based drugs: short-acting and long-acting drugs. Their usage depends on the kind of treatment required, based on the intensity of the sleep-wake schedule disorder.
It is one of the top benzodiazepines used in the treatment of insomnia and excessive sleepiness. It is a short-acting agent prescribed for its effectiveness in helping patients fall asleep. However, this drug is not suitable for people with more serious problems such as sleep maintenance disorders.
For patients who suffer from insomnia, an intermediate benzodiazepine like Estazolam (ProSom) or Quazepam is recommended. Long-acting chemical agents have a longer elimination half-life, which means the total time taken for their disintegration to half the uptake amount takes longer.
Ongoing research is currently addressing the problems of residual daytime effects and rebound insomnia. Since most drugs have addictive potential, small quantities must be administered over a well-defined period of time to prevent habit formation.
Short-acting benzodiazepines are the preferred drug of choice for circadian rhythm sleep disorder and are often used in combination with behavioral therapy.
For patients afflicted with circadian rhythm sleep disorder and insomnia for years, long-acting medication may be required to help alleviate their symptoms.
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