If you find it difficult to go to bed at a "regular" hour and wake up fatigued, it could be an indication of delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). About 15% of teens and adults have this problem, and many of them refer to themselves as "night owls" since they stay up later than the average person.
DSPS causes your internal clock to operate a little slower than everyone else's. It is a circadian rhythm-related condition. It essentially signifies that your sleep schedule has been changed by two [or more] hours. As a result, you fall asleep later than you should and wake up later than you should.
While this isn't always a problem in and of itself, many persons with DSPS discover that their internal clock is out of sync with the rest of society, causing complications. The main issue is that it may have an impact on your professional and social life. People with DSPS find that their "night owl" lifestyle holds them back, from trying to wake up in time for a 9-to-5 job to feeling sluggish throughout the day.
Here are a few DSPS symptoms that could explain your night owl behaviour.
1. You are not able to go to bed on time
The first and most noticeable symptom of DSPS is that you find yourself wide awake long after everyone else has gone to sleep, instead of going to bed at a normal bedtime. Our sleep and waking cycles are governed by an internal clock in every person's body. Each night, this clock establishes a window of time during which sleep is feasible. It's as if individuals with DSPS have a 'sleep window' on Western Time while everyone else is on Eastern. Sleep will not be feasible until they are in their sleep window.
2. You find it difficult to get up in the morning
Many people find it difficult to get out of bed simply because they are comfortable or sleepy. However, for people with DSPS, the inability to get out of bed can have a significant influence on their lives, making it difficult for them to work traditional nine-to-five employment.
You'd wake up fine on a delayed schedule every day since your circadian cycle is off. However, being compelled to rise when everyone else does makes you miserable.
This is because your normal sleep/wake cycle is set later than most people's. Night owls require the same amount of sleep as day owls; the difference is that the clock cycle is positioned differently (i.e., later). In comparison to the rest of the population's more usual routines, their 'biological clock is delayed.'
3. You're tired and groggy all-day
If you have DSPS, you may find that you sleep well, sleep late, and wake up feeling refreshed on days when you can sleep in – which will usually be late into the morning.
However, if you have to get up early for a job, don't be shocked if you're groggy for the rest of the day. While some people with DSPS might feel well-rested and refreshed if they sleep in a way that suits their bodies, many people with DSPS are fatigued and drowsy all of the time.
This is because, despite only getting a few hours of sleep, your natural sleep pattern is being disrupted by societal obligations, such as having to get up early for work.
4. You require more sleep than everyone else
If your partner feels wonderful after seven hours of sleep, or your roommates are usually out of bed after eight hours, you may start to feel "lazy" in comparison.
However, if you notice that you require more sleep than others, it could be a sign of DSPS. According to certain research, people with DSPS require more sleep on average than the general population, regardless of how much sleep they get. It could be a hint if you require more naps and sleep time than your peers.
5. You have sleep deprivation symptoms
Those with delayed sleep phase syndrome are vulnerable to chronic sleep deprivation because they are often forced to be awake on a regular schedule to get to school [...] or go to work. This implies they're usually working on three to four hours of sleep per night, which is nowhere near the suggested seven to nine hours.
As a result, you may find that you're more prone to accidents, that you forget things easily, that you're clumsy, or that your reaction times are delayed. A history of falls, car accidents or silly missteps can often indicate the need for a DSPS evaluation.
6. Your sleep schedule is causing anxiety
Over time, DSPS can result in "psychological symptoms like depression or anxiety because of the toll it takes on the person’s work, relationships, and self-esteem. And it's all because society expects people to get up early and "rise and shine."
It's rare for bosses, significant others, or friends to realise that a person has very little control over their sleep and how it affects their lives. Those with DSPS don't always know what's going on which makes sleep and living so difficult. This allows negative thoughts, self-hatred, and recurrent worries to infiltrate your mind.
7. Your social life is impacted
Because DSPS is a widely misunderstood sleep disorder, it can cause problems with friends, family, and relationships.
When persons with DSPS are functioning on a separate schedule or forcing themselves to work on a timetable that works for everyone else, everyday connections in relationships are extremely difficult. When a person feels like they can't get it together, it can lead to being fired, breakups, and low self-esteem.
That is until you find ways to adjust your schedule or seek the help of your doctor or sleep specialist, who can help you find ways to overcome DSPS.
8. You'd much rather have a regular bedtime
Due to all of the downsides, you may discover that you prefer to sleep on a regular schedule and go to bed when the rest of the family does. However, try as they might, it simply does not work.
Persons who identify as "night owls" may like staying up late, but this is not an option for people with DSPS. Your entire existence is on hold because of your circadian rhythm.
But keep in mind that this is not the same as insomnia. Most DSPS sufferers can clock six to nine hours of restorative sleep if left to their own devices, such as on a break or vacation, which distinguishes them from insomniacs who struggle to fall asleep even when they want to. The issue is that the restorative DSPS sleep is usually from early morning to late afternoon.
9. You've had symptoms for at least three months
We all go through periods in our lives when falling asleep is difficult due to travel, illness, or stress. These times usually pass, and we find ourselves going to bed at a normal hour once more. The story of those with DSPS, on the other hand, continues.
You can realign your sleep with some assistance.
If you feel this is the case and your DSPS symptoms are causing you problems, the first thing you should do is to contact a sleep specialist. They can provide you with a diagnosis and lead you on the proper path for treatment options, which may include light therapy.
Exposure to bright light in the morning can aid persons with DSPS. Taking a natural supplement such as corn leaves extract in the evening helps to modulate the body's melatonin level, coupled with other healthy lifestyle modifications, can help with DSPS.
It may also be required to adopt a new schedule that better accommodates your night owl tendencies, such as changing your work shifts to have a normal sleep schedule.