A regular circadian rhythm is shifted with DSPS & DSPD

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

What is Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)?

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) is a sleep disorder where a person’s circadian ryhthm (sleep/wake cycle) is delayed from the typical day/night cycle. People with delayed sleep phase have a natural inclination to go to bed later and wake up later than what is typically considered normal.

How Do Circadian Rhythm Sleeping Disorders Work?

Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) is one of many circadian rhythm sleeping disorders, and in fact it is the most prevalent of all such disorders. It is the opposite of advanced sleep phase syndrome, in which people go to bed and wake up earlier than normal. People with delayed sleep phase generally go to bed in the early morning hours, from 1 am to 4 am, and wake up later in the morning, from 8 am to 11 am. Socially active people, and those considered ‘night owls’, who feel more awake or sharper during the evenings, are at a high rate of having or getting this disorder.

When delayed sleep phase is not the result of another sleeping disorder, people who have it will achieve sleep quality and duration equivalent to those with normal sleeping schedules. If the delayed sleep phase is not interfering with daily routines, or is in fact complimentary of the subject’s routine, it may be advised to maintain the routine, as the circadian rhythm disorder might not be harmful.

What is Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD)?

When Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome starts to interfere with ‘life’, by conflicting with daily routines such as work or school then it is called Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD). When the disorder comes into conflict with daily routines, such as school or work, that requires waking up earlier than would otherwise be natural, the disorder could lead to sleep deprivation and other issues. Delayed sleep phase is responsible for 10% of all chronic insomnia cases.

Common Symptoms of Circadian Rhythm Disorders like DSPS & DSPD

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome
Circadian Rhythm Disorders can become problematic when they interfere with your work or school schedule

People who have a delayed sleep phase which interferes with their routine often compensate by napping during the day, or sleeping excessively on weekends to counterbalance the deprived sleep during the week. This can lead to temporary relief, but perpetuates the delayed phase cycle.

Circadian rhythm disorders are caused by the body’s internal clock not resetting and adapting to changes in sleeping patterns, or doing so slowly. In most individuals, going to bed at a time different than what is normal for them will result in the circadian rhythm adjusting and allowing them to fall asleep and wake up as desired. In those with delayed sleep phase, even when suffering through lack of sleep, the body maintains its inclination to go to bed at the usual time, making it difficult to fall asleep even when feeling physically tired. Likewise the body will tend to wake up at the same time, regardless of the amount of sleep, be it too little or too much.

In contrast to advanced sleep phase, which has minimal effects on work or school obligations, people with delayed sleep phase are more likely to have their sleeping disorder interfere with their necessary daily schedule, leading to chronic sleep deprivation.  This can negatively affect school or work performance and social standing. People with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) and Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD) may be labelled as lazy, unmotivated or undisciplined.

Who Is Most Likely To Be Affected By DSPS?

Delayed sleep phase affects as many as 15% of teens and adults, a much higher rate than advanced sleep phase, and those with delayed sleep phase are generally younger than those with ASP. It often develops in adolescence and continues into early adulthood, though it may also begin in adulthood. It affects both genders equally. Like ASP, DSP also has a genetic link, and people with a family history of DSP are 3 times more likely to have it as those with no family history of the disorder.

Environmental conditions can lead to the development of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) and Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD). A lack of morning sunlight exposure, and an overexposure to bright evening sunlight are likely to lead to a shift in the circadian rhythm towards a delayed sleep phase.

What is the Treatment for Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome?

If delayed sleep phase is interfering with your daily schedule, it is important to take steps to minimize its effects. Nearly 50% of all reported subjects with DSP also suffer with depression. While there is no easy cure for DSP, and although DSP has shown high levels of resistance to many treatment methods, consulting a doctor should still be a priority.

The most common method of treatment is the gradual scaling back of sleeping times, until they achieve the desired timeframe. The schedule would then be rigidly implemented. While this can be effective, maintaining the new routine is imperative, as it often resets completely if the individual diverts from the new habit even once with a late night.

How Does Bright Light Therapy Work?

Bright light therapy is also an accepted treatment that has shown some positive results with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) and Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD). It involves exposure to bright light at early morning hours shortly after waking up, and avoidance of bright outdoor light during the evening hours. This has been demonstrated to readjust the circadian rhythms of individuals to more normal schedules.

Does Melatonin Work To Treat DSPS or DSPD?

At least one sleep study in 2010 concluded thatMelatonin is effective in advancing sleep-wake rhythm and endogenous melatonin rhythm in delayed sleep phase disorder.” If you believe you’re experiencing DSPS or DSPD consulting a doctor should still be a priority to determine proper treatment.

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32 Replies to “Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome”

  1. D. Muralidhar rao

    I am sixty five years old, otherwise healthy male. I have BP and am talking lodoz 2.5, for the last 15 years. M problem is that I am suffering from DSPS from last over 12 years. Is there any treatment at all for DSPS or I should suffer lifelong like this. Please advice what I should do.

    • Noni

      I am 24 and happy to know that there’s an elderly who suffers the same difficulty as myself. Some have said that those who suffer from DSPS have a short life span.

  2. Beth Flory

    Can delayed sleep disorder cause you to Only get two and a half two three hours sleep at night for 2 to 3 weeks in a row and then make you sleep one night for 12 to 14 hours weather at the night or day to make you feel rested again even if you take sedatives at night like mood stabilizers as well as a hypnotic like Ambien?

    • Samantha Banner

      My DSPD was so bad I got so sleep deprived that I would pass out instantly at 10pm. But it was impossible to wake up until noon.
      When I had a sleep study done, my dr said I was so sleep deprived I fell asleep early but my brain stayed awake until 3am anyway! Sneaky brain.
      So just bc your body is asleep doesn’t mean your brain is and DSPD doesn’t respond really to drugs from what I find.

    • Jess

      Yep. And I naturally sleep between 6 and 10 am and just started a new roster where I start 11am, I’ve allready slept in twice in one week. Really scary I don’t like being so stresse

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely! This totally happens to me, and although I don’t take hypnotics (I get the psychotic side effects and they don’t really help me sleep that well anyway), I am on mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder (I highly suspect the chronic deprivation since childhood played a key role in developing it, though I also have family history). I recently started taking seroquel (antipsychotic and mood stabilizer) at night, and it does help me sleep somewhat, if I remember or don’t resist taking it, but I’m sure my body will adjust to the drowsiness effects soon and it won’t work anymore. Either way, one of my passions in life is Cuban salsa dancing, which usually happens between 11pm and 2am, and I am not willing to give that up forever just to try to maintain a rigid, drug-induced early sleep schedule which doesn’t even help me feel rested in the morning (if I get up before 9:30, I am miserable no matter how long I’ve been asleep). When I finish grad school soon I will definitely be arranging a modified work schedule when I start my career. This is no way to live. I hope you have some possibility of modifying life to fit you rather than destroying yourself to conform to arbitrarily* early hours.
      *arbitrary to work 9-5 or for kids to attend school even earlier, though I realize if you have kids that naturally wake up early it’s not arbitrary. If I ever have any, there will have to be my partner or a nanny to do early mornings.

  3. David Fejtek

    I am 17 years old, i recently did a research on sleep snydromes because i´ve been stayin up very long every day usually falling asleep around 2AM to 6AM depending on my schedule for the next day. Iˇve become very depressed since it´s been affecting my function throughout the day, sleeping mostly 2-4 hours before i had to wake up to school/doctor apointments etc. resulting in me just skipping them mostly. Everything i read about this syndrome fits me so accurately that it´s almost scary. I don´t really know what should i do now that i realized i probbably have this syndrome. Iˇve read that it´s frequently misdiagnosed or that most parents/doctors assume that symptoms are basically thought up to justify staying up long or to avoid school/morning chores. Iˇm pretty sure that it´s not my case since even when i don´t have anything for the next day i still follow the same routine. Should i tell this to my ordinary doctor or seek up a specialist on this? Not really sure what my next steps should be or if my parents will understand. I would much apreciate some advice about how should i approach this.

    • Samantha Banner

      Hi!
      DSPD stinks!
      First thing I would do is find a 10,000 Lux lamp. It mimics the sun. The light hitting your retinas tells you to wake up.
      You use the lamp in the room with you in your line of sight for 30-45 minutes each morning at the time you WANT to wake up. Make it the same time every day.
      It then makes it easy to fall asleep. And then you can wake up on time. Mine was very bad and the lamp made a world of difference.

  4. Chetan

    I am a computer engineer who works 9 hours a day on a PC.
    After I come home I spend further 4-5 hours per day playing games, watching movies,etc
    This makes it very difficult to sleep and has lead me to develop DSPD.
    I have been doing this for over 9 years and i sometimes skip work twice a month to catch up on my sleep.
    I have tried not using PC/mobile at night but I just lay awake in my bed doing nothing.

    This has become a real problem for me, please help!!

    • Kyle

      I’ve just recently lost my job, landed another. Broke up with my girlfriend. Have to move.

      Tentatively I will cut back caffeine.
      Establish a regular workout routine.
      Eat healthier, home-cooked foods.
      Read and play music (Jazz guitar for now) until I become tired.

      I figure if I keep myself away from computers and games I would keep away from overstimulation.
      I will allow my sleep schedule to go full circle.

      Staying up an hour later and going to sleep an hour later each day.
      If that doesn’t work, I will take a small amount of melatonin 1 hour before I want to sleep.

      Another idea, bi-phasic sleep, or polyphasic sleep. Some of the greatest minds in history had strange sleep patterns.

    • Chris Kelly

      Sleep is covered rather well. At < 1 Hz theta brainwave entrainment and/or meditation help. If you slip up then it's back to square one. The .8Hz oscillating sine wave goes well with pink noise. Wear an eye mask in Summer and lightbox for winter) The blue end is the key. Measure in PAR not LUX . Plants use the same wavelength to grow.

  5. Seth

    Hello.
    I am a 23 year college student. I have been having trouble sleeping for at least half my life. Lately I have really started getting fed up with it. I take 40 mgs of Adderall a day. I some times don’t take any in the evening,and have even started slowlin down on drinking any soda in the evenings. I feel tired and sometimes can even fall asleep early too. But most nights I lay in bed, with my mind stI’ll racing. And when I get up, ive already slept until noon. It’s making my daily life a real struggle. Any good ways I can try to relax more before bed? I’m hoping that by doing that, maybe, I could get into a rigid sleep schedule.

  6. Dave

    Hi,
    Had sleep issue for 40years since a kid. All males in the family have it. 2am-3am seems to be the magic hour to fall asleep. Can’t catch up on sleep with naps, only can hope to sleep in on weekends. No prescription helps. Passion flower tea around 7pm helps a little and no digital distractions(tv,computer,phone,etc) Also found gravol helped with a deeper quality of sleep but didn’t help go to sleep. White noise machines helps, or sometimes a fan. Best solution on a 9-5 schedule is keeping routine and balanced diet/exercise while keeping stress and distractions minimized while using the tea, gravol and white noise. And stay away from sugar and processed foods.

  7. Pamela Poole-Lively Machino

    I have had DSPS all my life. Remember a a young child not wanting to wake up and staying awake all night. it is hereditary in my family. I have been called lazy all my life , my close relatives. It is depressing. I take addarol on days I have to get up and sleep rest of time.I have to give in to my body or i get sick. I required early because DSPS is a disability approved my Medicare. Now at 63 I can just relax and let my body do its thing.

  8. sharon

    I am now 61 and have DSPS, which really gets me down as I get to sleep about 5 or 6 am then can’t wake till 12 or 1pm so my family don’t ask me to do anything with them now as they know i won’t be up and ready.I haven’t been to th dr as i don’t think they can help as in England they probably haven’t heard of it.I want to try to gradually go to bed a bit earlier each night and get up a bit earlier each day before summer gets here and i waste my days sleeping.I have to work self employed so I can do things when I can.People just think you are lazy and it is affecting my self esteem.

  9. sam

    EVERYBODY… get thee to a Costco and buy yourself a 10,000 lumen light. Total game changer.

    The fix for me was as simple as that. Learn when/how to use it and that’s it. Read through the Amazon reviews on these lights and you will find many kindred spirits. SADD lights, Light Therapy Lamps are what you want. And it has to be 10,000 lumens, to work. JUST GET THE LIGHT!!!

  10. Kendrick

    Hi, I also experienced this twice what I did is I didnt eat 13 hours before the time I want to wake up and it changed my Circadian Rhythm within just 1 night.

  11. Katherine Keenan

    My 17 year old daughter was diagnosed with DSPS about 6 months ago. It has been a really tough 2 years. She was seen by at least 6 to 8 specialists in CT and at Boston Children’s Hospital before getting to a great doctor who is very educated on the syndrome. She was a fantastic student and athlete, had lot;s of friends and was doing so well. Now we can hardly get her to leave her room. She is going to sleep at 5:00am and waking around 2:30pm. She is unable to attend school so she has a tutor and will do some online classes to complete high school. I was just wondering if anyone could comment of the psychological side of the illness. I keep telling her she needs to get out of the house but so is extremely resistant and not interested. Thanks!

    • Carrie Oshrin

      Hi Katherine, I’m not sure what you’re actually asking for in regards to the psychological side. I’ve suffered with DSPD for the past 30 + years and I don’t believe there is a psychological side from DSPD. Some people also suffer from depression and I believe that number is about 50% of DSPD sufferers. However, DSPD is said to be a neurological issue.

      The hardest part mentally/emotionally from my experience is the constant comments and related frustrations of those around me even in a joking manner. It’s very disheartening that others just can’t accept my different schedule as normal. It’s always looked down upon as a problem. Even if no comment is made and I see it in their eyes, I’ll carry that as guilt for the entire day even though I know it wasn’t my fault and I couldn’t have done anything to change it. There is no cure for DSPD. The best thing I’ve found to help me with societies schedule is Ambien. 10mg does help me get up in the morning if I have something really important scheduled. However, the state has now set regulations on the dosage of Ambien and only allow women to be prescribed 5 mg / men 10mg. Apparently, the women were sleepwalking. And unfortunately, 5mg does not put me to sleep. So there was that.

      There are so many possible reasons for your daughter not wanting to go out. Anything from bullying, to better online friendships, to genuinely not having an interest. I don’t believe that has anything to do with DSPD. It could have to do with a related issue like depression but, not DSPD.

      My advice is to help her learn to deal with it. Help wake her up every day no matter how many times you have to tell her it’s time to get up. Let her sleep longer on the weekends. Teenagers naturally need more sleep than adults, so I would make it a goal to wake her up by 11am, not 2:30pm and whenever on weekends. I’ll admit that there’s been a couple times I’ve slept 26 hours straight because my body needed the make up sleep. Believe it or not, I wasn’t tired and blah from too much sleep either. On the contrary, I felt fantastic! That’s why I suggest longer weekends. I really hope your daughter will be lucky enough to grow out of it by her 20’s. Many do. I did not. Best of luck to you!

  12. Anonymous

    I have suffered all my life with this. My mind and body want to be awake at night. I have to work a day job and it sucks because I only get 4 hours of sleep a night.

  13. Seif

    I guess it’s true. Misery does love company. It makes me feel a lot better knowing others struggle with this as well. I’ve been struggling with my sleep since childhood. At 15 I even underwent a sleep study at Georgetown Sleep Clinic. The result was that it was just my biological clock. This was in the late eighties to early nineties. It was my ex-wife’s mother who came across this disorder and told me about it. It has impacted every area of my life. I never keep a regular cycle. Right now I sleep at 10am and wake at 6pm. In a week or two it’ll be something different. However, it’s always late to sleep and late to rise. Occasionally, I come full circle and end up sleeping early and rising early, but that never lasts more than a week. This runs in the family on a my mom’s side. I’ve tried light therapy with marginal results, but I’ll continue to try it because it’s the most promising thing I’ve seen. I’ve just learned to make due by having more flexible job schedules, going to school online, and taking something to help me sleep nights before I have to get up earlier, etc.

  14. jason jiang

    I would like find doctor for my son’s Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. But I don’t know how to find. Please help.

  15. Glenna Strable

    I have been lucky in my life that my choices have worked with my sleep disorder. I have been a night owl since I was a teen. I worked most of my adult life as a bartender so going to bed a 4 am was “normal” for that job. I could then sleep late during the day while my child was at school and be awake to pick her up and spend the afternoon with her. For those of you with teens suffering with this my suggestion is that you encourage them to find things to do that are productive with their wakeful hours. It is a lot easier tho feel good about your “weird schedule” if you are creating art, crafts etc… or enriching your mind with books and music rather than just watching late night tv. Home schooling is great when possible especially if school work can be done late at night. Also remind them that many great jobs rely on night workers, doctors, nurses, third shift workers in all manufacturing plants, long distsance teuckers, bartenders and servers, any 24 hour open establishment, train conductors, pilots, artists, writers, the list goes on and on. The important thing is to think outside the box and make the world work for you!

  16. Carrie Oshrin

    It’s okay to be different they say. It’s okay to be different colors, speak different languages, eat different foods, practice different religions, etc. But it’s not okay to run on a different time of day. That’s what society tells us with this 9-5. I’ve suffered with DSPD for the past 30-40 years, way back when I remember my brother picking up my mattress and tossing me on the floor to wake me up in the morning. I had my brothers wake up flight, my ex-husbands nagging and now I rely on the Screaming Meanie 220 to get up. Problem is there is no snooze on the SM220. Regular alarms don’t usually work too well. People can’t understand that not being up at the crack of dawn is seriously out of ones control. I sleep great when I sleep. I go without sleep an average of 3 nights a week. I just stay up and work all night and then of course work the next day too. Those are the only days I go to sleep before 3am – after a 36 – 40 hour work day. My boss is very good to me and I’ve worked for him for 7 yrs now. Today he asked me what takes all my time in the mornings. I usually blow the question off with some dumb one liner. But that question always sinks deeper with me because I really like my job and just him asking the question means it’s bothering him. I’ve tried to explain DSPD to so many others in the past and they’ve all just told me I’m full of s**t. How can I be full of it when my doctor has even written me a prescription to go camping for 2 weeks straight in an attempt to reset my clock? As far as I know that’s a pretty rare prescription for a doctor to write. It’s too bad I don’t have the means to take advantage of it. Anyway, I want to know if anyone has had success in getting people to believe them when explaining that you’re late due to DSPD? I honestly think it sounds like some dumb excuse too. It’s just so frustrating!! I truly hate time!!

  17. T H Eaton

    This is such an evil disorder. My daughter was diagnosed with chronic, treatment resistant depression when she was 17 and I began suffering from the same disorder, no diagnosis or treatment available in 1965, at about the same age. She also has DSPD, and anxiety. We didn’t know about DSPS or DSPD until about a year ago and she is now 40. She hasn’t been able to finish her education or hold a decent job so she tries to make a bit here and there and her grandparents support her. I feel such despair at the tragic waste of life and don’t know how she will continue to live with this when her Dad and I and her grand parents are gone. She is on all sorts of medication that hasn’t really given her any relief in the past 20 years, just maybe some lessening of symptoms. Is there any reason to hope for medical intervention that actually works for this?

  18. Iris

    This disorder definitely makes it difficult to function in an 8 or 9am to 5pm world. It is also difficult to justify or explain to others why you cant make plans or why you don’t schedule things early morning. Getting through school and college was really difficult especially not understanding why i hated getting up early so badly. I had a job for years in which i had to be at work at 7:30 am. I was exhausted, miserable, and sick on a regular basis. Thank goodness i was fortunate enough to find a good job in my field working later hours. Although it is still somewhat early for me it helps a lot. I still make up for lost sleep on weekends. Over the years i’ve seen sleep specialist and tried various over the counter remedies as well as rx drugs including ssri’s. The bright light suggestion did nothing..was kind of a joke… as well as melatonin and most of the meds, although i am currently on small doses of two drugs to help. However, i am on the verge of dropping those as i would rather not have to be reliant on meds. Plus i feel like i am constantly forcing my body to do something it doesn’t want to. The bottom line is that my sleep cycle is different from the “norm” and i have to work at making adjustments to my life in order to live with it. As much as i would like to be an early morning person, I feel it’s healthier to accept that I’m not rather than continuously fighting it with artificial means.

  19. Michelle Saunders

    Although I’ve suffered from what I called ‘sleep reversal’ for many years, having stumbled across your site it would appear I actually have a textbook case of DSPD. Due to another medical condition I had to give up work 5 years ago and have finally stopped fighting my sleep problems & in doing so allowed my body to follow its natural sleep cycle. This means on average I go to sleep between 5am & 9am and tend to wake between 3pm & 6pm. Although I don’t ever sleep right through, this daytime sleep is without doubt the best I get. What I am curious about is whether this condition & the neurological differences as a result of it, is what causes the strange & unusual response I have to a certain opiate. The drug was originally prescribed for pain and where as in most people it causes severe drowsiness and a feeling of being spaced out, in me it has almost the opposite effect in that it’s almost like I’ve taken an upper. It makes me more alert & switched on, but not in a hyped up kind of way & I was never high. What I find particularly interesting is other opiates do not have the same effect on me & the drug I mentioned does have a different mode of action than other opiates. So I’m curious if anybody else has experienced anything similar. I appreciate this is a US site and I’m from the UK but I haven’t found a similar organisation here yet. Thanks for your time. Michelle

  20. Virginia Borjas

    Does anyone else suffer from NES (nighttime eating syndrome). I go to sleep between 1am and 3am I wake up between 9am and11am. I drink coffee, water, and tea and am not hungry until 4pm, then I eat at 8pm then I snack on whatever until I go to bed. This has been my routine for years. Its like my breakfast is at 4pm and dinner at 8pm then whatever. I so wouldove to get up with the sun and have a real breakfast and lunch and dinner. And sleep by 10pm. I am alone dont go out of my house to shop or anything anymore. Just to the curb to throw out trash. I have set routine and its maddening at times.

  21. Joel Ross

    I have suffered with this since i was a teenager. It has made my life hell at times. Social interaction, work, relationship. I cant explain to anyone why im this way because i dont understand . I didn’t know this was a disease, im so happy maby now i can find some answers and help.

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