Is This Really Something Other People Suffer With? I Thought It Was Just Me.

I am 31 year old woman and have spent my whole life beating myself up for not being able to do what everyone else can do. I can't wake up in the morning and I can't go to sleep at a normal time. I really want to believe that this is not my fault. I couldn't believe it when I read about DSPS as it is exactly what I try to live with.
I'm not an insomniac because when I do go to sleep I sleep soundly for eight hours. The problem is that I rarely go to sleep before 4am and have no problem staying awake until 8 or 9am if I'm working on something. So it is not unusal for me to be just waking up at 2 or 3pm.
I have had to base my whole life around my night time schedule. Which means I'm great for late night parties but I have never lived with a boyfriend or kept a normal job. I have always quit jobs eventually out of guilt for being too often absent or late. I have had to call in sick to jobs and pretend that I have some other illness because I couldn't explain that I was suffering from being a severe night owl! The funny thing is that I never got fired from any job because once I made it  in to work I was always a really good employee and happy to stay late to make up for lost time.
When I have gone to the doctor to try find a solution they have just prescribed sleeping pills which made me even worse in the morning or various different anti-depressants. I don't think I actually suffer from depression but I often feel lonely or incredibly guilty and inadequate for always letting employers and co-workers down and the stress of fighting against my natural way of being.
I am now a Art History PhD student because I can work at night and still succeed in something I really love. My brain wakes up at night and I find I make connections and come up with ideas that never occurred to me during the day. When I occasionally have to teach a morning class I just don't go to sleep the night before and I drink lots of coffee. It works much better than trying to force myself out of bed at 6am after less than 3 hours sleep and my brain genuinely does not really work until I've been awake for hours.
I just wish that DSPS was recognized as a real disorder and disability as it is very lonely and I hate having to lie to my family and friends about why I can't function like a normal person.
I would love to hear about how other people deal with this and in particular if you have overcome it and are now a day person and if you feel that you can be creative and at your best from 9 to 5.
hadalittle hadalittle
5 Responses Feb 18, 2011

I have had some success treating this in myself. I have used chronotherapy which is where you push your sleep pattern forward and forward until you reach the right time. I cannot push my sleep pattern backward by waking up earlier or going to bed earlier but I can push it forward by go to bed later and waking up later. It takes a week or so to cycle through so I am waking up in the morning. Once I am waking up at the time I want I use light therapy to stabilise my sleep pattern. This involves sitting in front of a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) light as soon as I get up for about an hour. It is not a cure and I relapse if I stay up too late or when I get sick and spend time in bed. It is a constant battle. However it is now possible for me to wake up early in the morning after having a good full night’s sleep. It is a remarkable feeling. My natural hours our about 6am to 2pm. I have had this problem all my life and have clocked a lot of time staring at the ceiling trying to sleep. I used to worry about being able to have a normal job and I looked in to night work. I am a student at the moment so I am being somewhat relaxed on managing it. But I am confident now that when I join the working world I will reset my sleep pattern and it will be fine.

I have been exactly this way my entire life. I'm sure it affected my ability to function in school. My Mom even says she would have to wake me up when I was an infant because I would go on sleeping passed 9am...highly unusual for infants! I have also suffered from constant anxiety and lying about being late or abscent for work. I do litterally feel ill when I have to wake up before my normal waking time, and when it's really bad, I just call in sick because I need to sleep sooooo bad. I often feel angry at the world...if society would just allow me to go to sleep and wake up when it works for me, I would be soooooo much more productive and happy. I would be a better employee! A better everything! Being in college and graduate school were the best periods of my life. I never scheduled classes before 11am. I am also thinking of getting my PhD now because an academic lifestyle feel like it would fit best for me. I am also thinking of going back to working freelance. I have tried my entire life to get on a normal sleep pattern. I attempt to go to sleep earlier, but it always fails. I toss and turn if I force myself to go to sleep to early. The only times I go to sleep before midnight are when I'm so exhausted from lack of sleep that I just pass out. I am constantly sleep deprived. It's a horrible feeling. But I too know that I don't really have trouble sleeping soundly for a full 8-9 hours when I'm allowed to go to sleep and wake up when my body wants to. I too wish this were a more recognized condition. If it were labeled as a disability that people recognized and respected, I feel I'd have a much better time in a work situation. Right now my schedule is 10-6 (instead of 9-5), because I pushed for it. But I struggle so much getting in at 10am. And my boss things I'm just irresponsible and an insomniac. She keeps trying to push drugs on me thinking that I have insomnia. I've tried to explain that's not the problem. I too am MUCH WORSE if I take any kind of sleep aid. Forget it, I'll sleep through 10 alarm clocks on any kind of sleep meds. Without them I still sleep through alarm clocks quite often. I also have never been fired from a job because I am a hard worker and passionate about what I do, and always put in many late hours. That's another problem though. I waste half of my day in a fog and then have to make up for it working very late hours. I'm newly married and want to start a family soon, and I'm terrified. That's why I'm looking to freelance or academia. I can't afford to spend all my trying to work, and then working... Also, I have recently been diagnosed with Adult ADHD. I am wondering if these two conditions are related. It seems like they may be.

Oh you poor thing! I can TOTALLY relate to the guilt etc. you feel, as I feel it too - constantly. Nobody understands that this is something you really can't help. I mean, who would choose to be this way, and be treated like some sort of freak???!!!!! I'm so fed up with the inuendos, and snide remarks about how much people have done with their day since they got out of bed at 5am, yet I'm just getting up at what they call such a "disgusting" hour of the day. I also have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea, and ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Google's NOT only just fatigue!). I feel sorry for my husband who is such an early bird, and usually rises anywhere from 5am to 6.30am. I seem to spend my whole life feeling guilty about the way I am and the fact I am not "normal". It's so good to read there are other people like me out there!

When I read your story, I felt that I was reading my story as well. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm happy to hear that you can focus on your creativity during that time and that you made the best out of it.<br />
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Good luck!

well done for you for finding a way to make it work, it looks like you have turned a negative into a positive. I wonder if you would be as creative if this "curse" of sleep was taken away from you.<br />
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As people of the world, we are all thought of the same, and expected to show the same capabilities. I agree its time for change, but that wont happen. I believe that with medication and modification of how we are, we stand to lose who we are.<br />
We are diamonds living in a triangle world maybe. Ovals, living amongst circles. <br />
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I am looking at the moment as to how I can live a full happy life, whilst avoiding the rules of the normal... I know it will be hard and at times lonely, but I refuse to conform and deny this gift, although right now it just feels like a curse.<br />
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Good luck to you :)