Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Improve ineffective treatments for circadian rhythm disorders

I have extreme delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD), a circadian rhythm disorder (CRD). I fall asleep at dawn and wake up early afternoon. My dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) is at 5:30 am. A normal person’s DLMO may be at 9 pm, for example.


CRD treatment—prolonged bright light after temperature nadir, dark restriction/melatonin starting several hours before natural bedtime, darkness till temperature nadir—does not work for many patients. In addition, it requires tremendous guesswork and unforgiving compliance. Even 1 day’s lapse can set some patients back for weeks. Plus, a night owl who works a day job can't live in darkness till his/her temperature nadir.


Challenge: improve treatment so it's more successful/reliable and less onerous.

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC

Circadian rhythm disorders (delayed sleep phase disorder, non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder, irregular sleep-wake disorder) have been ignored by many sleep researchers. They should not be. First, they reduce lives to rubble: education, employment, partnering, and parenting suffer or are not possible. Second, nocturnals who force themselves to live a diurnal life are at higher risk of disease (as are diurnals who work 3rd shift) and accidents. Third, evidence is mounting that circadian rhythms play a significant role in immunity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, metabolic (dys)regulation, mental health, medication administration, and public health (think of the spike in accidents after spring and fall time changes).

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC

To date, most circadian research has been conducted on "normals" who don't have CRDs. But their responses to light and dark cues differ from those of CRD patients. Please conduct circadian research on CRD patients--just as you would conduct diabetes research on diabetics.

Also needed: convenient ways to test for dim light melatonin onset, temperature nadir, and other circadian biomarkers. Right now, such tests are limited to study settings.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea Maya Kochav

Tags (Keywords associated with the idea)



75 net votes
103 up votes
28 down votes
Idea No. 601