USA Today Profiles Author with Rare Sleep Disorder

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July 17, 2009

A recent article in USA Today profiles George Dawes Green, an author who has a rare disorder called non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome, or hypernychthemeral syndrome. Classified as a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome is when a person's internal biological clock is found to have no stable relationship to the regular 24-hour light/dark cycle, according to the fourth edition of the Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine . This means sleep onset and wake times get pushed back each day. For example, this week a person might go to sleep at 10 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m., but four weeks from now they might go to sleep at 9 a.m. and wake up at 5 p.m. Dawes, author of The Juror , told USA Today , "There is always that sense (that) if only I had a regular schedule, I could get so much more done. But I couldn't be as creative. When I let myself go free — going to sleep when I want — then creativity surges through me." Non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome is actually very rare — more often occurring in totally blind individuals. According to the Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine , administering melatonin an hour or so before a person's desired sleep time is one method of treating the disorder.