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Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders: Treatment

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This information was reviewed and approved by Sheila Tsai, MD (3/1/2017).

Sleep disturbances of the rhythm of our internal clock can often be managed with light therapy to readjust the timing of sleep and wakefulness.

For example, people with a delayed sleep phase disorder should have exposure to light in the morning. Light exposure in the late evening is recommended for people with an advanced sleep phase disorder. A medical eye exam should be performed before light therapy is started.

Sleep scheduling, or chronotherapy, with gradual movement forward or backward of the bedtime and wake time may be recommended to help shift the sleep schedule.

Sleep aides may also be helpful. Melatonin, when timed correctly and in low doses, may help shift the sleep schedule earlier or later. Prescription sleep aides may be considered depending on the sleep disorder, but may be helpful in the insomnia associated with shift work sleep disorder.

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