The term “circadian” describes a 24-hour oscillation of physiologic processes that determine sleep-wake cycles, brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and every other time-sensitive biological function. Disrupted circadian rhythms exacerbate the symptoms of most mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. The pacing of circadian rhythms is one of the primary responsibilities of all staff at WGCC. Circadian pacing is the core treatment intervention for the stabilization of affective and impulse control problems. It is the least invasive and most restorative intervention staff can implement with Bipolar and Depressed clients. It is also a very effective adjunct to the treatment of schizophrenic, obsessive and anxious clients. Tools used in circadian pacing include:
✦Restoring a day-active/nocturnal-sleep cycle
✦Regular meals and exercise
✦Optimized interpersonal interactions
All of the above have direct input and impact on the client’s biological clock and facilitate the “resetting” of circadian cycles and the improvement of physiological (chemical) functioning. Disrupted or harmful circadian pacing (e.g. interruptions of sound/sight during a deep sleep) can perpetuate abnormal clock functions and lengthen a client’s course of treatment. Education about circadian pacing is reinforced by clinician and program staff at every opportunity. Additionally, it is the responsibility of all staff to ensure that facility operational activities (meal times, changes of shift, milieu rounds, etc.) are done so in a way which minimizes or eliminates any interference with the circadian pacing of the client.