Delayed Sleep-Phase Syndrome

Room to discuss all things related to delayed sleep-phase syndrome.

Sometimes I am just not sleepy when it’s time to sleep. Do you all ever feel this way?


I have chronic insomnia (CI) & circadian rhythm disorder (CRD), so I have experienced not being able to fall asleep frequently throughout my entire life. I have other problems [pain from fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, disc bulges in my neck & back from an injury, TMJ, chronic migraines, sinus & allergy problems, which can cause headaches, too, as well as chronic itching from skin sensitivities & kidney disease, asthma, chronic bronchitis & sleep apnea, chronic fatigue syndrome & narcolepsy (you would think that this one would make me fall asleep so much easier, but what I experience is falling asleep at inappropriate times)] that contribute to my sleep problems, too, & haven’t helped the situation much. Even though I am now taking Ambien (1/2 of a 12.5 mg tab) every time I go to bed, I still suffer from CI & CRD, & I still have problems falling asleep now & then. I’ve learned from my neurologist not to fall into the temptation to take the other half of the pill because then I’ll just sleep for 24 hours straight. But, it has helped me fall asleep faster & to actually stay asleep, which have always been difficult for me to do; it’s as if my brain just won’t shut down. If I wake up to go to the bathroom or take scheduled meds, Ambien has made it so that I can fall right back to sleep easily. Overall, I think it’s helped me tremendously. Even so, I’m still unable to stick to a sleep regimen because of all these disorders. I have tried to keep a sleep schedule a number of times & have always found it difficult to do. I wouldn’t be sleepy at all when most people would be heading off to sleep. It seems as if my brain is wired to sleep in the daytime instead of at night. I can remember being this way my entire life & my mom tells me that even as a baby my hours were turned around no matter what kind of schedule she tried to force on me. I always had difficulty going to school & work all those years & raising a family that needed to be kept on schedule was a challenge. But I always did the very, very best I could & in spite of it all was successful in my endeavors & my family did well, too. Often on weekends though, I would slip right back into my natural rhythm & Mondays have always been very difficult for me to handle. Now that I’m medically retired due to chronic pain issues, my CI & CRD have only gotten worse because I don’t have to keep a schedule anymore & now I find it especially difficult if I have a doctor appointment or somewhere I need to be the next day. I miss out on a lot of social activities because of these problems. Thank God my family & closest friends are understanding & patient with me. If I try to force a schedule, I most likely wake up with a pretty severe migraine. I’ve had frequent migraines throughout my life & now find as long as I don’t force a schedule, they have lessened in frequency, intensity & duration. So, turning my schedule around just isn’t worth it for the most part & I know I will be paying for it if I do (the body has to do what the body wants to do). If I have somewhere I need to be the next day, I’ll just stay awake even longer & crash right after I get back home. This seems to be the easiest way for me to handle this problem. Another thing I’ve learned about trying to keep any kind of sleep hygiene at all is to put away all devices & stop watching tv several hours before I plan to go to bed (studies have proven that too much “blue light” before bed can cause insomnia). My neurologist told me that if I can’t sleep after trying for 20-30 minutes, I should just get up & do something boring, like read a book or lengthy article about something you have absolutely no interest in. The encyclopedia Brittanica is a really good source for things boring; just don’t do any reading on a Kindle, computer or cell device & absolutely don’t turn the tv back on. If I’m already feeling tired but just can’t fall asleep, this will work ~98% of the time. I wake up just long enough to take myself to bed & then fall back asleep easily. I also find that doing something repetitive that you don’t have to engage your mind in, like knitting or washing the dishes, for awhile before bedtime or whenever I can’t get to sleep helps. A good cup of warm milk, hot chocolate or camomile tea sometimes helps. Taking a warm shower an hour before bedtime & moisturizing your body (massage is even better) & keeping a facial routine make my mind & body feel relaxed & ready for bed, too. All in all, I think that if you have CI or CRD, you can never predict when & if you’ll have insomnia, but since doing these things, they’ve helped a lot. I wish you Good Luck.

@Catmom123 Thank you for sharing your story.

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Try Chronotherapy and phototherapy. It is used to treat delayed sleep phase. It can be used if there is a flexible enough daytime schedule. Sleep onset is delayed 2 - 3 hours on successive days until the desired bed time is reached. Obviously, this will be difficult for anyone with a regular work or school schedule.

This very interesting article addresses this issue:

Yes all the time! I Have that problem every night. (=