Imagine being awake all night, while everyone around you sleeps, and feeling the uncontrollable urge to sleep during the day despite trying to stay awake. This is the reality for those living with Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder or “Non-24,” which affects up to 70 percent of people who are totally blind.
Many people impacted do not even know what they have or do not realize that there is an underlying issue with their master body clock. That is because most people, sighted and blind, have a master body clock that runs longer than 24 hours. However, the clock is reset to 24 hours every day by light. For many people who are totally blind and do not perceive light, the master body clock cannot be reset to 24 hours.
This results in a master body clock that is out of sync with the typical 24-hour day. This can result in periods of severely disrupted nighttime sleep and the overwhelming urge to sleep during the day, which leads to a decrease in functionality.
Due to its cyclical nature and low awareness among physicians and patients, Non-24 is often misdiagnosed as insomnia or a mood disorder, leading to a delay in diagnosis or a misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment.
Tune in to The Balancing Act on Lifetime TV on Friday, February 21 and 28 at 7:00 am Eastern to meet Anthony, a father of four, who lost his sight in an accident and began experiencing Non-24 symptoms shortly thereafter. Anthony will discuss his journey to diagnosis and managing his Non-24 symptoms.
Appearing alongside Anthony is Dr. Helene Emsellem from the Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders, who will discuss gaps in education around the disorder, symptoms and the importance of patient-physician dialogue.
Anthony’s Non-24 story is being featured as part of The Balancing Act’s series called “Behind the Mystery: Rare and Genetic Diseases.” Check your local listings for Lifetime Television by clicking here.