Author has Rare Sleep Disorder

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • George Dawes Green is an author of thrillers including, in 1995, "The Juror" and, in 2009, "Ravens." Writing, or any occupation where a person can set his own hours, is ideal for George Dawes Green, because he has a rare sleep disorder where his hours of sleeping and waking fall later every day.


    This is known as free-running circadian rhythm sleep disorder.This disorder is related to day and night,to light and darkness and it is believed that only about 2% of the population suffer from the disorder.


    There are several kinds of circadian rhythm sleep disorders, including jet lag, caused by flying over several time zones, and a disorder caused by working night shift or a series of rotating shifts. These are called "extrinsic" type because they are caused by things outside the body.

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    Then there are the "intrinsic" type, including DSPS (delayed sleep phase syndrome,) ASPS (advanced sleep phase syndrome) and free-running sleep disorder syndrome.


    DSPS causes a later sleep time than normal and a later awakening, making it difficult to lead a normal life, because you are on a different time schedule than most of the rest of your world.


    ASPS does the opposite, making it difficult to stay awake in the evening, and you awaken far too early in the morning.


    Then there is free-running circadian rhythm disorder also known as non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome, the type that disrupts George Dawes Green's life.It's also prevalent in totally blind people who are unable to see daylight and darkness.


    Some of the methods of treatment include bright light therapy and the use of melatonin. An article on Wikipedia states:"In the management of circadian rhythm disorders such as delayed sleep phase syndrome, the timing of light exposure is critical." The article goes on to explain that bright light inhibits the production of melatonin and lack of light has the opposite effect.


    Melatonin isn't a drug. It's a hormone produced by a pea-sized gland nestled between the two hemispheres of the brain called the pineal gland. The pineal glands of young people produce copious amounts of melatonin. However, after the age of forty, production slows down.


    Our bodies have an internal clock called the "circadian." It comes from the Latin word meaning "about 24 hours." Our internal circadian "clock" dictates when we feel sleepy, hungry, happy or sad.

    Melatonin in the body controls the circadian rhythm  so we sleep at night and stay alert during daylight hours. The amount of light that reaches the eyes controls the amount of melatonin the pineal gland produces. Light slows production of the hormone, so on a bright sunny day, we are often alert and filled with energy.

    On a dull, cloudy day when the house is full of dark shadows, we become more lethargic and sleepy. When evening falls and the lights go out, the pineal gland increases its production of melatonin. The hormone flows throughout the body and makes us sleepy.

    With a circadian rhythm disorder, the flow of melatonin is disrupted and so is sleep.



Published On: July 22, 2009