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Definition - What does desynchronization mean?

Desynchronization is the physiological alteration of sleep patterns that occur when biorhythms do not coincide (desynchronized) with light-and-dark sleep/wake cycles. Biological and environmental factors such as natural aging, metabolic imbalances, different time zones, and rotating shift schedules can influence circadian rhythm cycles. Consequently, desynchronization often contributes to chronic fatigue or sleep disorders that can impair cognitive abilities and slow motor responses.

SureHire explains desynchronization

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders can cause desynchronized biorhythms characterized by advanced and delayed sleep schedules where marked time gaps outside the norm interfere with personal and professional obligations. For instance, delayed sleep phase syndrome causes individuals to experience later sleep/wake cycles that make early morning tasks such as reporting for work challenging. Conversely, an advanced sleep schedule is more common among an aging demographic as sleep patterns occur at an earlier time.

If desynchronization of biorhythms occurs, the body autonomously adapts to external or internal changes to facilitate the physiological course of sleep. However, erratic sleep patterns such as alternating shift work schedules trigger the brain to release biochemical agents that conflict with daytime and nighttime circumstances. Individuals can offset circadian rhythm fluctuations by adopting methods designed to control biological and environmental cues that prompt sleep/wake cycles. Practical measures can include melatonin supplements and white noise machines to support sleep while artificial light devices can help maintain a wakeful state.

Circadian rhythm disorders carry significant health implications that can interrupt job productivity, placing financial constraints on employers due to persistent fatigue, depression, and a high morbidity rate for cardiovascular disease. Employers can emphasize sleep awareness in promoting health and safety guidelines that limit or prevent workplace accidents with sleep deprivation being a common culprit. While desynchronization is a manageable aspect of otherwise normal sleep habits, its cause may be an underlying symptom of a circadian rhythm disorder that a doctor must diagnose.

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