Delayed Sleep Phase

Are you a night owl? Most of us can pull the occasional all-nighter, but approximately three in 2,000 adults, and 7-16% of teenagers, have trouble falling asleep within two hours of what’s considered a “normal” bedtime. This is a condition doctors call delayed sleep phase (DSP) syndrome, which interferes with a person’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm.

What can be done about it? Two of the most common treatments include:

Light/darkness therapy. Avoid bright lights for up to two hours before going to bed. Turn on the lights as soon as you wake up, or get outside as quickly as possible to trigger a sense of wakefulness in your body.

Chronotherapy. Try resetting your body’s schedule by gradually adjusting your bedtime by 15-30 minutes each night, and get up earlier by the same amount of time. Another strategy is to stay up all night, then go to bed an hour earlier than normal on the next night, and maintain that bedtime for a week. Repeat weekly until you’re on a regular schedule.

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