DSPS. Sick And Tired Of Trying To Adapt, Always Being Tired, Missing Out On Life And Being Misunderstood. Time For Change!If you read this story and suffer from Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome yourself, this probably will sound pretty familiar to you. I've had an enormous mental benefit of reading all of your stories, knowing that I'm not alone and that what I'm experiencing is nothing to be ashamed of. Therefore I've decided that I'd start sharing my own story here, hopefully adding some additional personal bits to the already huge heap of insight and recognition. After that I really would like to digitally get in touch with some of you for a possible documentary or book about DSPS that I want to make, so if you find my story too boring or way too long... please at least skip to the final part and read that! :) But first... my story:
Here I am, having another one of those "I'm totally fed up with 'it', now I'm going to do something about 'it'"-moments after another long period of first trying to force myself into a regular sleeping pattern, but eventually succumbing to the sleep deprivation and feeling enormous guilt while sleeping through the morning and early afternoons. It doesn't seem to matter what I do or try... it seems to have a continuous effect on my physical health, mental state, social life and love life.
Either... I try to adhere to the rhythm of the society and it's inhabitants around me, taking the extreme tiredness for granted, trying to work during normal business-hours, go places, meet friends, going to parties but eventually avoiding those same activities because the sleep deprivation takes over, the urge to go out and meet people completely backfires into a 'cocooning mode'... and my changing physical appearance even makes me loose my self-esteem at times. (Having a naturally pale complexion does not help when your sleep deprived... and the zombie-look is not fashionable yet despite the recent success of zombie-themed media... ;)) I develop these hard-to-get-rid-off dark circles under my eyes and people start to look at you as if you're extremely sick or an (illegal-substances) addict.
Or... I just give in to the DSPS, which means staying up late spending my time watching TV, not even bothering to go to bed before 03:00-04:00 am when the first 'drowsiness' starts to kick-in, falling asleep around 05:00 am and waking around 13:00 pm feeling pretty well. But then the guilt starts... I'm the co-founder of my own business so I want to be available during business hours, people expect me to be available and depend on me. I really do want to partake in the evening social life with friends and family, effectively giving me only half a working day. At night I still want to try to leave room for me to 'get tired' and hopefully 'start picking up the right rhythm' but it never does. People around me know of my sleeping problems, I've tried to make it clear to them what DSPS means, but they just don't/won't understand, even when they say they do. I can see the disbelief in their eyes and hear it in their remarks, and they all think in the back of their heads that it must be me and my sleep hygiene or other self-induced causes.
I've just hit 30 and like many stories that I've read here, I've just discovered the existence of DSPS a couple of years ago by early morning Google searches while lying fully awake in my bed and realized that this is EXACTLY what's wrong with me and what I'm having a personal war against for as long as I can think of. (But of course I "just made myself think this is what I have..." ;))
As many of you I've always believed that I was the cause of my own problems... either I just watched to much TV late night as a young kid, parents always had to get me out of bed, always had problems staying awake the first hours of middle-school and high-school. During my university years, living in a 6-person student house, there were even many more possible causes and/or distractions... as you might imagine. But... one thing kept constant during all those years: even when on 4-week 'boring' nature vacations with my parents I was always fully alert late at night, unable to sleep before 03:00/04:00, had a hard time waking up and being active in the morning (although I always tried or had to!), constantly fighting the sleep during the day, never succumbing to naps but still laying wide awake at night. No. Matter. What. Even after huge sleep deprivation (a couple of hours per night for weeks) I could see the same pattern. Sleepy/drowsy during the day, wide awake at night. I was always the last one to fall asleep. Always. No matter how much alcohol or substances I used, same thing. That made me eventually realize: no human could ever possibly do this to themselves or would want to do such a thing to themselves. Constantly fighting against your own body, mind and tiredness and coping with this while trying to have a 'normal' life. Constantly trying to hide the 'sleeping in' in times that I just really needed to get some rest and was at the point of physical break-down.
I've now reached a point where I honestly think that there sadly will be no cure and that it will probably (you never know with nature... :)) never change for me. I realize now and feel that I finally 'dare' to say I've tried enough things and experimented enough during my life to say that I'm suffering from DSPS. All the 20+ years of war (that's how it felt for me most of the times) against my own 'baked-in natural sleeping rhythm' have only resulted in breaking myself down both physically as mentally while improving nothing. That must stop now. I've got to think more about myself and care less of what others might think of me. The only problem being.... I really want to participate during 'normal hours' and especially the early morning, which is an impossible mission. Hopefully I'm able to slowly let go of that false ambition and realize that I will get even more out of life by giving in to my out-of-sync rhythm.
To end my story I'd like to stress that although I really have an extremely hard time fighting this personal battle, at the same time it isn't all tragic... I've got plenty of 'good moments' in which I enjoy being with my friends and family. Maybe less that I would have liked, but up to now that just makes them more special to me. Hitting 30 really made me think that I could not continue the same way I did the past 30 years. Time for change. Don't know exactly how yet... but giving in to the DSPS and shaping my life around it will have something to do with it. For me it's about coming to terms with it and myself.
About my DSPS documentary / book project
Also, I'm exploring the idea to make a documentary or book about people coping with DSPS and their personal experiences and the challenges that it brings. The main idea is that, like the stories here, it will be a beacon of recognition for others suffering (maybe still unknowingly) of DSPS and to create a better understanding for the general public and people around DSPS 'patients'. I really think creating more awareness and sharing experiences will help a lot of us to feel better about ourselves. First, I'd like to start generating a contact list of people suffering from DSPS, so I can start contacting them to get more information, gather more stories and/or send some initial surveys.
I would appreciate it if anyone who is willing to participate can send a private message to me containing (if not already available in your profile):
- a signal that you might be wiling to participate in sharing your personal story as a part of a book or documentary about DSPS
- your e-mail address (so I might contact you for more information, not depending on this website/forum to do so)
- some personal information so I can start making a anonymized rough 'map' of DSPS patients around the world (gender, age(range), city, country, current & past occupations in very general terms / sectors)
Finally... the end
Thanks to anyone who spend his or her valuable time reading my story and/or my call for information!
If anyone has any questions, about me, my DSPS experiences or the project... just fire away in the comments or via an EP private message! I think one of the greatest things of this 'forum' and all your stories is that we can finally ask each other about our personal experiences and opinions without being judged. Especially since there isn't a lot of (good) information around...
Greetings from Holland!