Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) is basically a type of circadian rhythm sleep disorder or a problem with the internal body clock. Also known as delayed sleep phase disorder or delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, it causes a misalignment in the sleep pattern where a person’s sleep can be delayed by two or more hours beyond the conventional time.
People who have DSPS find it hard to fall asleep at socially acceptable bedtime and their sleep are delayed. This problem or sleep disturbance can happen even when one is tired, and the delay will make the person wake up later. This is how DSPS can negatively affect daily routines in a big way.
DSPS is common and can develop at any age. However, teenagers and younger adults are most likely to be affected by it. There is however a difference between being a ‘night own’ and suffering from DSPS – in the former, you choose to stay up late while the latter, your body clock delayed.
Symptoms of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome
- Difficulty in falling asleep at the desired time
- Trouble in waking up the desired time
- Feeling excessive sleepiness during daytime
- Issue of insomnia
- Mood and behaviour problem
Causes of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome
- The exact cause of DSPS is still not known but it’s often linked with several factors
- People who have someone on the family with DSPS have a higher chance of getting this condition
- Bodily changes after puberty where the sleep cycle becomes longer and needs later sleep and wake time
- DSPS is also associated with psychological and neurological problems like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.
- Poor sleeping habits and chronic insomnia are some of the other causes
Diagnosis of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome
- To diagnose the problem, the doctor may review the medical history of the patient and their family
- The doctor may also conduct a physical examination to asses the condition
- The doctor may do actigraphy test to track sleep-wake behaviour at home
- You may also be advised to keep a sleep diary to analyse your sleep pattern
- You may also undergo polysomnogram test to monitor brain activity, eye movement, heart rate, etc
Treatments for Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder
Sleep doctors generally use more than one method for treating DSPS. Their decide on treatment with the purpose of normalizing sleep schedule by adjusting the body clock of the patient. The treatment will also depend on the symptoms and lifestyle of the person facing DSPS.
Here are some of the treatments for DSPS –
1. Advancing your internal clock
When you consult a sleep doctor, he/she will first analyse your problem and then diagnose the problem before starting the treatment. The first treatment would be to advance your internal clock in which the doctor advises you to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than what you have been following. During this treatment, the doctor will ask you to go to bed some 15 minutes earlier each night so that you can wake up a bit earlier. This treatment is effective and will show results over time.
2. Delaying your internal clock
Treatments for DSPS will vary from patient to patient. While in some, the doctor will advance their internal clock while in others they will delay the same. In the latter, the doctor will delay the bedtime 1 to 2.5 hours every six days. This treatment is also known as chronotherapy and it’s repeated until the patient follows a normal sleep routine. This treatment option is equally effective and for that reason features among the list for curing DSPS.
3. Bright light therapy
Bright light therapy is also among the most used treatment options for DSPS. It’s quite effective and hence features among the cure option for treating delayed sleep phase syndrome. In this treatment, the patient is made to sit near a light box for close to half an hour immediately after waking up. Such exposure to morning light will help the patient sleep sooner by advancing their internal clock.
4. Melatonin supplements
Your sleep doctor has several treatments for DSPS, but the selection will depend on each individual case. In some cases, he might ask you to take melatonin hormone to control your sleep-wake cycle. The amount, however, will be different for each person depending on the severity of problem and symptoms. In fact, the timing to take melatonin will also differ from patient to patient. It’s therefore important to follow the exact guidelines and instructions of the doctor while taking the hormone.
5. Improving sleep hygiene
The doctor will also try to improve your sleep hygiene to treat DSPS. He/she will ask you to follow good sleep habits that may include following a set sleep schedule and avoiding the use of gadgets or electronics before bedtime. In some case, the doctor may also advise you to avoid consuming tea, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco before bedtime, etc. You can also trust them as one of snoring remedies and achieve better sleep.