Circadian Sleep Disorder in the Blind Affects Thousands
“You can fall asleep while you’re walking. You can fall asleep while you’re talking. You can be in the middle of a sentence and fall asleep for 30 seconds or so just because your body needs that time so badly because it’s not sleeping at night."
Mindy Jacobsen has a rare circadian rhythm disorder called Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder that affects a majority of totally blind people. It is estimated that approximately 65,000 – 95,000 people in the US suffer from Non-24, a condition in which a person's sleep period can delay by about 15 minutes to an hour every night. Patients suffering from Non-24 experience severe nighttime sleeplessness and excessive daytime sleepiness, and the condition may also interfere with their social, family and work obligations. Since many doctors are unaware of it, people can go undiagnosed for years, living in a permanent state similar to severe jet lag.
Currently, there are clinical trials underway evaluating a possible treatment. Blind people struggling with sleep problems can learn more about this condition at http://www.24sleepwake.com.