Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

A regular circadian rhythm is shifted with DSPS & DSPD

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

Circadian Rhythm Disorders can become problematic when they interfere with your work or school schedule
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 beleive you’re experiencing DSPS or DSPD consulting a doctor should still be a priority to determine proper treatment.

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16 thoughts on “Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

  1. 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.

    1. 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. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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

  3. 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.

    1. 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. 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!!

    1. 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.

  5. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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