A story of a ‘night owl’

delayed sleep phase disorderYou might wonder by the title of this article whether we’re actually going to tell you a story. It’s actually not but here we’re discussing one of the sleep disorders known as delayed sleep phase disorder. People with this disorder are usually referred as ‘night owls’. It’s because they do not feel sleepy at night but can sleep soundly until noon.

Technically speaking, delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPS) is a condition where your 24 hour cycle of sleep and wakefulness – your biological clock is significantly delayed. As a result, you go to sleep and wake up much later than other people.

This disorder can greatly disrupt your day to day life. The disorder makes it difficult you to keep normal hours. With this disorder, you cannot make it on time for your morning classes, get the kids to school on time, or keep a 9-5 job.

Symptoms of delayed sleep phase disorder

  • People with delayed sleep phase disorder cannot sleep at the desired time. No matter how hard they try, they cannot sleep at that time. They struggle to sleep and get up.
  • Delayed sleep phase disorder is most common in teenagers, and many teens will eventually grow out of it.
  • Generally people with delayed sleep phase disorder do not any other sleep problems. It’s important to note that this sleeping problem is more than just a preference for staying up late or being a night owl. It’s because when allowed to keep their own hours such as during a school break or holiday, they fall into a regular sleep schedule.
  • For those who continue to struggle with a biological clock that is out of sync, treatments such as light therapy can help.

Treatment of delayed sleep phase disorder

  • The disorder can be treated by setting up good sleep habits and making lifestyle changes. Setting a sleep schedule means going to bed and waking up at the same times even on weekends can help them to get back on a normal track.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffees, teas, colas. Avoid having heavy meals in the night.
  • Make sure your child’s bedroom is cool, silent and comfortable. At night, make sure that the temperature is moderate. Keep comfortable mattresses on the bed to sleep on. Pull down curtains and if require use eye masks and ear plugs to block the light and outside noise.
  • Any screen time with a back light such as mobiles, tablets, computers or TV can theoretically delay the sleep rhythm and can delay your sleep time. You should cut back your usage of electronic devices at least few hours prior to your bed time.
  • Bright light therapy and melatonin or other natural sleep-inducing drugs are other options that can be tried with the help of a sleep specialist.

Usually, delayed sleep phase disorder is a choice made by teenagers and young children; otherwise simply instilling good sleep habits can solve the problem.

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