What Is Delayed Phase Sleep Syndrome

Last updated on April 25th, 2023 at 03:45 pm

We all have the odd night of finding it hard to drift off, perhaps after one too many coffees or staying up to watch that last episode on Netflix. Though if this has become a persistent problem, it might be down to more than caffeine. Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a circadian rhythm-related sleep disorder. Read on to discover how this can affect your sleep, the symptoms and simple tips that could help you catch more zZZ.

What is delayed phase sleep syndrome?

Delayed Phase Sleep Syndrome, also known as Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD), is a type of circadian rhythm sleep disorder where an individual’s sleep-wake cycle is delayed compared to the typical or desired schedule. People with DSPD have difficulty falling asleep and waking up at socially acceptable or desired times, leading to a misalignment between their internal body clock and the external environment.

Individuals with DSPD may have difficulty falling asleep until very late at night, often in the early morning hours, and struggle to wake up at the desired time in the morning. This can result in chronic sleep deprivation, excessive daytime sleepiness, and difficulties with daily functioning, such as school, work, and social activities.

What are the symptoms of delayed phase sleep disorder?

If this is something you think you could be struggling with, you are not alone. The sleep disorder affects up to 15% of teens and can follow you into adulthood if it is not resolved. Here are some of the common symptoms of DPSD:

1. Difficulty falling asleep and waking up

Due to the delay in your circadian rhythm, your brain remains alert even when you are extremely tired. This can make it hard to wake up when you want to due to excessive tiredness and your internal body clock telling you it’s now time to sleep.

2. Sleepy days

Due to the lack of sleep the night before, you may find yourself wanting to nap during the day, this can start to interfere with work and getting on with your day-to-day activities.

3. Low mood and irritability

Lack of sleep can affect us all in different ways, though low mood and irritability are common symptoms of DPSP. The frustration of not being able to drift off and wake up feeling refreshed can make you feel unmotivated and unenergised to make the most of your day.

It is always best to speak to your doctor to diagnose the sleep disorder, and the good news is this is a condition for which there are several treatments. From simple tips on improving sleep hygiene to light therapy, here are some of the ways you can start enjoying bedtime and look forward to brighter mornings.

What are the treatment options for delayed phase sleep disorder?

Bright light therapy

This is a form of light exposure that can help to reset your circadian rhythm, helping to regulate the levels of melatonin, the sleepy hormone that tells your brain it’s time to bed. A sleep doctor or your medical professional can advise on if this therapy is best for you.

Reset bedtime

Bringing bedtime forward or delaying it by an hour can also help to reset your circadian rhythm into a new routine. Try getting snuggled up an hour earlier or later than usual and experiment to see if you can find a time that works for you.

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Get cool and comfortable

Keeping your bedroom and bed at a lower temperature can trigger the release of melatonin, encouraging you to fall asleep more quickly. If you find yourself overheating at night, look for bedding that helps regulate your body temperature. Our Bamboo Mattress Topper infuses a cooling gel into orthopaedic grade memory foam (HydroFoam™) that keeps you cool through summer nights and cosy in winter. Team with our 100% Bamboo Bedding and you could be well on your way to more restorative snoozing.

Reduce light exposure before bed

Try and lower the lighting an hour or two before bed and put down your phone and laptop. Too much blue-light exposure and screen time close to bed can disrupt the release of melatonin and lead to that ‘alert’ state that makes it so hard to relax and drift off. Replacing screen time with a good book and a warm (caffeine-free) drink could work wonders for your sleep.

The snoozy Take-Away

These are just a few of the ways that you can ease delayed phrase sleep disorder and start enjoying smoother, longer bedtimes. Looking forward to a good kip at the end of the day and starting your morning fresh and energised is essential to your health and well-being. You do not have to put up with a non-stop cycle of late nights and groggy mornings, speaking to a doctor and experimenting with treatments is the best place to start in getting bedtime back on track and enjoying the simple pleasure of a good night’s sleep.

Sweet Dreams