How are circadian rhythm sleep disorders diagnosed?

The diagnosis of circadian rhythm sleep disorders can be challenging and often requires a consultation with a sleep specialist.

Your healthcare specialist will gather information about your sleep and work schedule history and ask you to keep a sleep diary for one to two weeks. Your healthcare provider will also exclude other sleep and medical disorders, including narcolepsy, which often mimics delayed sleep phase disorder.

Sleep diaries are often used together with a wrist watch-like device (called an actigraph) that records sleep and wake activity over the course of days to weeks. Sometimes overnight and daytime sleep studies may be required. Sleep studies are tailored to address the sleep pattern of the individual. For example, an ‘overnight’ sleep study might be performed during the day in a shift worker. Measuring body temperature and melatonin levels are other useful tests.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/01/2020.

References

  • Avidan, Alon Y; Zee, Phyllis C. Handbook of Sleep Medicine. 1st edition. Philadephia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2006.
  • Foldvary-Schaefer N. The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Sleep Disorders. New York: Kaplan Publishing, 2009.
  • Merck Manual, Consumer Version. Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. Accessed 4/7/2020.
  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. Accessed 4/7/2020.
  • Zhu L, Zee PC. Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. Neurol Clin 2012 Nov.;30(4):1167-1191. Accessed 4/7/2020.

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