Pediatric Circadian Rhythm Disorder
A circadian rhythm disorder is a problem with a child’s sleep-wake cycle.
A circadian rhythm disorder happens when a child’s sleep-wake cycle becomes out of sync. The circadian rhythm, sometimes called the body clock, affects hormones, body temperature and sleep over a 24-hour period. Individual circadian rhythms may differ slightly, but all are influenced by exposure to light (day) and darkness (night).
An infant’s (birth to 1 year*) circadian rhythm begins to develop around six weeks of age and is usually set between three and six months. Changes in hormone levels during adolescence (age 10 to 19 years**) can affect a child’s circadian rhythm.
Factors that may increase the likelihood of a circadian rhythm disorder include:
- Changes to normal routine
- Changing from one time zone to another (jet lag)
- Medication side effects
Symptoms of circadian rhythm disorders in children include:
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Falling asleep before normal bedtime (advanced sleep phase disorder)
- Hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness)
- Trouble falling asleep at normal bedtime (delayed sleep phase disorder)
- Waking up before daylight