delayed sleep disorder



Is there anything more frustrating than watching the hours tick by when everyone else is snoring the night away?

While a lot of people will title one night of disturbed sleep as insomnia like they use ‘flu’ to describe the common cold, insomnia is actually a recurring scenario, so much so, you will truly know when you have it.

Symptoms include trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, the inability to find a comfortable sleeping position, failure to experience deep refreshing sleep and the tendency to wake early and not be able to get back to sleep. At best, it feels as if you have been hitting the snooze button the whole time accompanied with feeling lethargic and unrefreshed when up in the morning. As a general rule, insomniacs also find it hard to catch a sneaky mid-afternoon cat nap and often seem irritable and tired throughout the day while lacking concentration and motivation.

Generally, insomnia sufferers will experience bouts of poor quality sleep but with help or treatment it will go away and stay away or will come back for a visit alongside a change in their status quo such as increased stress or poor diet. It will also range from transient to the chronic kind depending on what may be causing it.

Insomnia is unfortunately a common problem exacerbated these days from stress and technological stress due to bedrooms filled with electrical energy from iPads, mobile phones, TVs and other modern day gadgets. This is not necessarily the cause but it doesn’t help lessen the problems. With so many people who do suffer from one level or another of Insomnia, it is not surprising that Facebook is one of the first choices of entertainment to brush off the boredom and frustration.

Insomnia however does not need to be a lifelong partnership. It is not an illness. As opposed to other sleep conditions where it is the body’s natural cycles that don’t coincide with social structures of living, insomnia is often triggered by something external such as stress and poor sleeping environments. Lifestyle is also a high contributor along with mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, grief and schizophrenia and/or physical problems like heart complaints, pain and even some medications.

Treatments for insomnia vary from natural herbal night-time remedies to ear plugs and darkened rooms. Insomniacs however, do tend to be light sleepers so the more they can do to avoid eternal influences that could shake them from slumber such as noise and light, the better.

Relaxation techniques before bed such as taking a warm bath, having a warm smoothing but decaffeinated low sugar drink or listening to some mellow bedtime music are all worth a shot. Some insomniacs find that reading (and not from an electronic device) will also help them go quickly into sleep mode. The more you can do to establish a clear bedtime ritual to train your brain into recognising that it is time to close up shop for the day, the more improved sleep quality you are likely to experience – routine is key. It is advisable to check with a GP before taking any kind of medication and in some long term cases it might

be worth considering alternatives such as hypnotherapy, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or some form of stress management therapy.

Other top tips to obtaining better quality sleep include relaxation exercises or deep breathing exercises and avoiding getting up to drink or eat (unless you woke up because of this) when you wake during the night as this can trick your body to thinking it is time to actually get up. Sometimes just simply discussing the day’s issues, any looming nerve racking situations or those niggling concerns that are playing like a broken record before getting into bed, will also help decrease those stress and anxiety levels.

Some caffeinated or high sugar drinks consumed before bed could also be the cause of your sleepless nights and while alcohol can make some sleep, it could be keeping you wide awake. Why not try swapping out the glass of red wine or after dinner coffee for a herbal tea or a warm milky drink.

It is also always top priority to check sleeping conditions and arrangements. Sleeping in a room with another person who works a night shift or snores or that overlooks a road might need to re-evaluated. Ticking clocks and lights from alarms or charging electrical devices could do with being removed along with electrical stress from the myriad of devices we have embraced into our fast paced, on-the-go lifestyles.

Quality of mattress, pillows, sheets and other sleepwear also need to be assessed. You can’t ask your body to go into a state of rest, if the result is being cold in the night or pain from poor mattress determined sleeping positions. Your pillow could be doing you more harm than good.

Do you suffer from insomnia? Let us know what you do to help combat the nightly struggle?

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delayed sleep disorder

Insomnia & Delayed Sleep Disorder

Do you have trouble getting to sleep?

The difference between Insomnia and Delayed Sleep Disorder can be confusing. With Insomnia so readily the label for anyone who has any interrupted sleep, whether this spans just one night every so often or is a recurring issue, you would think it’s easy to self-diagnose. Insomnia is typically the diagnosis for those who can’t stay asleep. For others, staying asleep is not a problem, it is actually drifting off in the first place that poses the challenge..

It’s bedtime, the lights are off and you’ve just snuggled into your warm winter duvet. Comfortable – yes. Cosy – yes. Sleepy – yes. Can you get to sleep – NO, not a chance! Do you constantly toss and turn while trying to get your brain to switch from overdrive to snooze time? Do you ever wonder why you seem to be up much later that everyone else? Do you study, read, watch TV late into the evening making 11:00 pm, when most are heading to bed, seem early to you? Do you feel alert or awake at night despite a long day? Do you have trouble waking up in the morning because you never seem to get enough sleep but once asleep you sleep pretty well? Does a grave yard shift often sound more appealing than your day job? If you can relate to the above a lot more than you would like to, you could have Delayed Sleep-Phase Syndrome (DSPS) or Delayed Sleep-Phase Type (DSPT) rather than Insomnia.

These typically deemed ‘night owls are often mistaken for traditional insomniacs. You don’t however, quite seem to fit the mould. The casual observer might think your late nights are the cause of your poor sleep habits rather than a symptom. Just being told that you need to manage your time better, be sensible and get an early night or need to learn to be more responsible, is not particularly helpful or sleep inducing. The good news? It really isn’t your fault.

DSPS sufferers do not fall into the natural sleep-wake patterns most people have. The best way to describe it is like living with permanent jet-lag, which for most people would be inconceivable.

No-one has really got to the bottom of DSPS but studies often show a shift in the internal cycle of melatonin production, otherwise known as the night hormone. This means a person with DSPS will normally experience a significant delay in falling asleep, irregular sleep patterns and difficulty in getting up in the morning. Symptoms also include but are not limited to: day time drowsiness, dependency on caffeine, irritability, tiredness, and inattention accompanied by lengthy sleep-ins on the weekend. No it’s not about being lazy and it is definitely not a bad habit that you can kick with a bit of effort.

Apart from difficulties in getting to sleep, most people with DSPS who do not suffer with any other conditions such as sleep apnea, can sleep peacefully once actually in a state of sleep. If left to their own devices without the 9-5 constraints of work, school and society, those living with DSPS would naturally go to bed several hours later than the rest of the world and wake accordingly, several hours later in the morning feeling refreshed and full of energy.

It is not just DSPS in itself that is the issue. Sleep deprivation has been linked to behavioural problems, mood swings, depression, ADHD, tardiness and dependency on sedatives or other drugs and even alcohol, all of which lead to a whole other barrel of problems

DSPS generally occurs following hormone shifts during adolescence but can be seen in some children early on. It generally is a lifelong battle. It can also only really be officially diagnosed via sleep logs and tests conducted at a professional sleep clinic by a trained consultant.

There is no cure but sufferers can try to lessen the condition by establishing as much of a regular bedtime routine as possible, especially with children and teenagers. This includes keeping a steady routine without allowing sleep and waking times to be exaggerated over weekends or holidays – easier said than done though! Other good practices for a good night’s sleep involve reducing intake of caffeinated products, nicotine and alcohol, especially just before heading to bed. It is also worth trying to bring bed time forward a little in 15 or 20 minutes blocks until a desired sleep time is reached.

Some specialists have also suggested light therapy as a way of helping to reset a person’s biological clock. Professional advice does need to be sought before going down this route.

There is much to be said, however, for reducing exposure to light before you go to sleep i.e. putting away those iPads and Kindles and avoiding brain stimulating activities such as Facebook, checking emails, skyping, texting and watching movies while in bed. Leave all of this for a more sociable time of day.

As for taking any sleep inducing products; this could be an option but it is always best to consult a GP or sleep specialist first. Should you wish to improve your sleeping aids, then first things first – invest in a really comfy mattress and good quality sleepwear that will ensure that bed is a place you feel suitably comfortable and cosy, somewhere you want to be rather than a place of constant anxiety and frustration. Helping to re-establish a positive connection between the bedroom and the brain is as good a start as any to combatting asleep disorder.

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