Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder: Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Wednesday, 06 Oct 2010 02:45 PM

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Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder is characterized by changes in sleep patterns due to change in the body clock, technically called the circadian rhythm. This change can lead to delayed sleep and waking time, or sleeping during the day and being awake at night. Circadian rhythm sleep disorder does not allow the person to sleep and wake at desired times and hours. This leads to sufferers feeling sleepy or drowsy when they need to be awake.

There are several associated problems of this disorder like depression, impaired social functioning, irritability, and restlessness. Continued sleep disorder can lead to insomnia and other complications.

Through ongoing research, there have been several improvements in understanding and treating this sleep-wake schedule disorder. Top medical breakthroughs in research on circadian rhythm sleep disorder are described below:

1. A team of German researchers has devised a hormone supplement as a pill that could help the body readjust the circadian rhythm. The medication called metyrapone has been tested on mice. This is an important discovery for circadian rhythm sleep disorder treatment. How this pill compares to the human body’s slower, natural adjustment to circadian rhythm remains to be discovered by further research on circadian rhythm sleep disorder.

2. UC Irvine researchers have discovered that the energy levels of cells in our body are regulated by the circadian rhythm. This provides useful insight into the relationship between the circadian rhythm, metabolism, and increased risk for certain medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Studies have also shown that the proteins for circadian rhythm and metabolism are linked and dependent upon each other. They have discovered two proteins named “clock” and “nampt,” which play a major role in sleep-wake disorders. While advanced research in this direction is still awaited, the initial findings are optimistic. An innovative plan aimed at treating circadian rhythm sleep disorder might be underway. This is being counted as an important medical breakthrough for circadian rhythm sleep disorder.

3. A report whose results will be published in the November 2010 issue of "Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research" states that studies done at the Taipei Medical University have revealed that chronic drinking can alter circadian clock genes. This study found a significant reduction in the number of ribonucleic acid molecules, which help manufacture the protein responsible for body clock functions in chronic drinkers or alcohol-dependent patients.
 
These studies indicate a new direction in the treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorder and in the treatment of alcohol-dependent sleep-wake schedule disorder patients. The findings have also revealed a link between the change in body clock and other physiological problems such as depression, anxiety, and even cancer.

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