Circadian rhythm dysfunction can be a serious condition that prevents you from getting proper sleep – in terms of both the length and the quality. This can lead to a host of challenges and other health concerns.
In this article, you will read in detail about the different types of circadian rhythm sleep disorders, their VA disability ratings, and common conditions to which these sleep disorders are secondary such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain, PTSD, and tinnitus.
In this article about insomnia and circadian rhythm dysfunction VA ratings:
Understanding sleep disorders
The effect your insomnia or other sleep disorder has on your life is often dependent upon several factors. This might include the nature of your sleep condition, its severity, the effect of other medical conditions on your sleep, and other details of your life and work.
Disorders which affect the circadian rhythm decrease the quality of a critical part of your health – your sleep. Generally, this decrease in quality sleep leads to an increase in symptoms like fatigue, irritability, memory loss, and an inability to focus.
In isolation, these physical and mental symptoms might not significantly impair you, but they can become more problematic the longer they continue. The impact of your insomnia may be more severe if you notice longstanding changes in your mood or behavior. Deterioration in your ability to carry out regular daily activities at work or in social relationships may also be cause for concern.
Perhaps most noteworthy, when left unchecked, sleep disorders can cause or aggravate other serious medical conditions.
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
Your circadian rhythm is your internal clock that controls important body functions like your temperature, digestion, and hormonal activity. A healthy circadian rhythm will reset every 24 hours, based on cycles of light and dark. As the name implies, circadian rhythm sleep disorders refer to conditions that impact the ability of your circadian rhythm to reset. There are several types of circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which are defined by the way they alter your circadian rhythm.
- Delayed and Advanced Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder: In this type of disorder, your sleep-wake cycle causes you to fall asleep two or more hours later than normal (delayed) or causes you to wake up two or more hours earlier than normal (advanced).
- Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder: Irregular rhythm occurs when your sleep-wake cycle is inconsistent without any stable day-to-night cycle. Sometimes this disorder is associated with other diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or Huntington’s.
- Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder: This is when your sleep-wake cycle does not reset every 24 hours and is constantly shifting based on your non-sleep schedule and other obligations like work.
- Shift Work Disorder: Defined as disruptions to your 24-hour sleep-wake cycle due to work shifts that fall outside the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. window.
- Jet Lag: Temporary loss of sleep and daytime drowsiness as a result of changing time zones.
Circadian rhythm disorders are generally associated with insomnia or other daytime fatigue that can be acute or chronic, depending on the type of disorder at issue and the underlying cause. Treatment might necessitate changes to your schedule and other sleeping habits.
Circadian rhythm dysfunction VA rating
The amount of VA disability benefits you may receive because of your circadian rhythm disorder will depend on the diagnostic code and rating that most closely aligns with your circumstances. Insomnia and its related sleep disorders do not have a unique diagnostic code under Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Typically the VA rates sleep disorders using the schedule of ratings for mental disorders in Section 4.130, which range from zero to 100 percent.
- Zero percent: This rating is given if your insomnia does not interfere with your work or social functions, or if it does not require continuous medication.
- 10 percent: Rated when mild symptoms cause some impairment to your work or social activity, but only during periods of significant stress, or if your symptoms are continuously controlled by medication.
- 30 percent: Rated when you have an occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform work duties due to symptoms.
- 50 percent: Appropriate rating if you experience reduced productivity and reliability due to symptoms that include difficulty understanding complex commands, and both short and long-term memory loss. This rating is also given if you have impairments in your judgment, thinking, and ability to maintain effective relationships at work and home.
- 70 percent: Social and occupational impairments with deficiencies in most areas of work or school, family relationships, thinking, judgment, or mood due to your symptoms.
- 100 percent: Total social and occupational impairment due to symptoms.
Insomnia and other conditions rated under the schedule for general mental disorders can be difficult to evaluate. In most cases, the VA will likely have you complete a disability benefits questionnaire and undergo a C&P Exam to determine the correct rating for your insomnia.
The other challenging part of claims for VA benefits relating to insomnia and other sleep disorders is establishing a service connection. Direct service connections are difficult to make for sleep disorders like insomnia unless there were specific events you experienced in your service that could be attributed to your sleep disorder. More likely, your insomnia or other sleep disorder will be service-connected as a secondary condition.
Sleep disorders as a secondary condition
Most veterans that develop sleep disorders like insomnia and circadian rhythm sleep disorder usually have other health conditions from which their sleep disorders arise. Usually, these primary conditions are directly tied to their service. In these cases, your sleep disorder will typically be service-connected as a secondary condition.
Common conditions that might be connected to your sleep disorder include:
In pursuing VA disability benefits for sleep disorders, you should be mindful of all other conditions that might qualify for benefits. At the very least, your medical history and other service-connected conditions could establish a service connection for your sleep disorder as a secondary condition. If you are curious about the potential monthly benefits you may be eligible to receive, you can use our free VA disability calculator to input your conditions and their ratings to see an estimate.
How Woods and Woods can help
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Many sleep conditions can cause mental health disorders like anxiety and OCD. In the other direction, mental conditions like PTSD also have the ability to affect sleep.
The VA typically rates sleep disorders using the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders. You can receive between a 0% and 100% rating under this formula.