Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder is a condition that causes a delay in the normal sleep pattern by more than two hours. People that are affected by this disorder often complain of having late evening insomnia or having excessive early-morning sleepiness. Most people that suffer with Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder have difficulty falling asleep prior to 2 AM therefore have short sleeping periods during the weekday, and a prolonged sleep pattern during the weekends of up to 12 hours.
Sometimes people that suffer with Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder are called “night owls”, however these hours they keep are not by choice. These people typically have a striking inability to fall asleep at a more typical bedtime, as a result many times have been labeled also as insomniacs.
If a person that suffers with Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder ignores his internal clock and attempts to live on a normal schedule, then it can cause difficulty in general functioning, safe driving, and clear thinking. And, with time Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder might reduce a person’s enjoyment of life and productivity, thus leading to stress-related medical problems or clinical depression.
Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder Diagnosis
To diagnose Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder a doctor may review your medical and family history as well as conduct a full physical exam. The doctor will probably order several tests in order to be able to diagnose Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder or any other related conditions. The doctor may order an Actigraphy. That is a small device that you wear to track your sleep wake behavior at home.
The doctor may also ask you to log in your daily wake and sleep times in a sleep diary in order to determine your sleeping patterns. Also, if the doctor suspects that you may have another type of sleep disorder he may order a polysomnogram. This type testing takes place at an overnight sleep center. It monitors your breathing, eye movements, oxygen levels, heart rate, and brain activity as you sleep.
Treatment of Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder
Sometimes doctors that have training in sleep medicine are also trained in other areas such as neurology, psychiatry, and pulmonary medicine. It is important to find a trained doctor that will help you create a treatment plan to successfully overcome Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder. A successful plan for treating Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder might include improving sleep hygiene.
The doctor might just recommend that you need to maintain a regular sleeping schedule. He might also recommend that you avoid alcohol and tobacco, stimulating activities, and caffeine when it’s close to bedtime. There may also be other changes that he recommends in order to help in improving your sleep hygiene.
The doctor might also prescribe chronotherapy where you delay your time for bedtime by 2 to 3 hours every couple of days until the desired time for bed is reached. Then you must maintain the established sleep schedule. Light therapy is another type of treatment that is often used with Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder. By getting morning light exposure it helps to adjust your internal sleep clock or circadian rhythm. In addition, the doctors might have you take melatonin supplements in the early evening or late afternoon in order to help in the adjustment of your circadian rhythm and thereby help with delayed phase sleep disorder.