HEALTHY LIVING
01/30/2012 04:04 pm ET

Your Sleep Questions Answered: Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder

Delayed sleep phase disorder is a common sleep disorder that usually affects teenagers. We scoured the Web to find answers to some frequently asked questions about delayed sleep phase disorder, giving you background information so that you or your loved one can literally sleep better at night.

Note: You should not rely on the information in this post as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Patricia Escarcega

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder

Delayed sleep phase disorder is a type of circadian sleep disorder in which the 24-hour sleep and wakefulness cycle is significantly delayed. Afflicted individuals tend to fall asleep and wake much later than most people.


Symptoms

Individuals with delayed sleep phase disorder may find it difficult to stay in sync with conventional day and night phases. Sufferers may experience trouble falling asleep until 4 a.m. or waking before noon.

Causes

Like other forms of circadian sleep disorders, delayed sleep phase occurs when an individual's internal clock is thrown out of sync from the natural timing of day and night. This can be caused by both few and reoccurring disruptions in one's sleep pattern.

Standard Treatments

There are several standard treatment options for this sleep disorder. Sleep therapy that emphasizes sleep hygiene techniques is often recommended, as well as external stimulus therapy, such as bright light treatment, and chronotherapy, a behavioral technique that seeks to gradually readjust the individual's sleep schedule.

Severity

Delayed sleep phase disorder is not life-threatening. It is most common among teenagers, and most individuals eventually grow out of it.

Quality Of Life

Delayed sleep phase disorder can significantly affect one's quality of life. Sufferers often find it difficult to keep nine-to-five hour days, being that their time clock is centered differently than the natural flow of day and night.

Have you ever suffered from delayed sleep phase disorder? What advice worked for you?

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