What is Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome?
Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (ASPS) is a circadian rhythm disorder in which the body’s sleep-wake patterns are shifted earlier than they should be on a typical 24 hour day. It is distinquished from other sleep disorders in that the sufferer tends to feel more alert and awake in the evening and more tired in the early to mid-morning hours. People with ASPS often fall asleep between 6 and 9 pm and wake up between 2 and 5 am.
What Causes Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome?
The exact cause of ASPS is not known, but it is thought to be related to a malfunction in the body’s biological clock, or circadian rhythm. It may also be related to genetic factors or caused by an underlying medical condition. In some cases, changes in lifestyle such as stress and lack of exposure to natural light can trigger ASPS.
What Are the Symptoms of Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome?
The main symptom of ASPS is sleeping much earlier than normal and waking up much earlier than normal. Other symptoms of ASPS include difficulty staying awake in the evening, tiredness or difficulty staying awake during the day, difficulty falling asleep at night and difficulty concentrating during the day.
Health Risks Associated with Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome
The health risks associated with ASPS can be serious and include:
- Increased risk of depression
- Increased risk of fatigue and irritability
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Developmental delays in children
- Increased risk of accidents due to drowsiness during the evening
Diagnosis and Treatment of Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome
To diagnose ASPS, your doctor will need to discuss your symptoms, sleep habits, and family history. Your doctor may also order a sleep study or other testing to rule out other sleep disorders or medical conditions.
Treatment for ASPS typically includes lifestyle changes such as increasing light exposure in the late afternoon, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants in the late afternoon and evening, and avoiding naps. In some cases, medications such as melatonin may be prescribed to help regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
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