xxii. How to tackle DSPS

18 December 2005 at 12:48 | Posted in Circadian rhythm | 6 Comments
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Having a circadian rhythm disorder and not knowing what it is, is essentially different from having one and knowing something about it.  Though no two of us are alike, anyone with a disorder related to mine who has read this far, now knows something about it.  
Someone wrote on a message board recently:  “Wow – reading these posts is totally shocking.  It seems like I have written them all myself!  I have gone through so much of what is described here.” 
Adding such descriptions here, blog entries about my past troubles and struggles, already half-written in my head, is unnecessary, I think. 
Finally — way out in the middle of Chapter Two — it’s occurred to me that I should define who I’m writing for. 
You are probably over 20.  You have one heck of a time getting up in the a.m. no matter how many alarm clocks you are using (and likely not even hearing).  You are at your most alert, creative, productive and alive in the middle of the night, and you’ve been like this for years.  You’ve tried “getting to bed at a decent hour”, but for you that doesn’t mean getting to sleep right away.  However, when timed right for you, your sleep is usually good and uninterrupted for 7-9 hours.  When you do get enough sleep, timed right, you’re not unreasonably tired the rest of the day.  You suspect that you may have a circadian rhythm disorder. 
You may also be one of the approximately 50% of us who’ve been diagnosed with depression or anxiety.  Not all the experts agree with me ( yet Image ), but it looks like the trend is to accept that the root of the problem is the physical / chemical / genetic circadian rhythm disorder.  The mood problems follow, quite logically, because of societal expectations and pressures, often compounded by sleep deprivation. 
You may have gotten onto the sleeping pill merry-go-round, resulting in habituation, withdrawal, rebound etc.  (Thanking my lucky stars — I’ve never gone to a doctor who talked me into that!) 
You may have developed all manner of coping strategies, for example sleeping in two shifts every day. 
So what do you do now?  
You live with it, or you go for diagnosis and maybe treatment.  I want to talk a bit about these options, but first:  The Sleep Log.


Next post:  xxiii. We interrupt this program…



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  1. Hi, I’m Michele. I found your blogs by being a member of niteowls. I have had so many problems with my sleep and was finally diagnosed with DSPS a couple of months ago. I also am on meds for depression and anxiety. I cannot go on this way, only because I have children to care for, and must be awake during the day. Had HORRIBLE experiences with sleep meds, and still do. Please write – michlovesrick@yahoo.com

  2. Wonderful refreshing, reassuring blog for all DSPS-ers! Keep it up!

  3. I have DSPS along with M.E. and problems from a brain and facial trauma I obtained during a soccer accident in 1995. Doctors I’ve seen have only managed to screw up my rhythm even more, until I have developed a totally reversed night and day but with much sleep interruption. My other disease/disorders come with their own sleeping symptoms which even well accredited sleep specialists have viewed as part of my sleep disorder despite protests from myself and my other doctors. Therefore the sleep specialists have worsened what was a textbook case of DSPS, which I have had since I was a very young child (long before my accident and M.E. onset). I appreciate your blog very much. It is so difficult to find information and I am so lacking in energy- it’s always helpful when intelligent people have pre-processed it for me. While reading your entry “My diagnosis” I felt that the physician you saw might be able to deal with my varying health problems (if only to ignore the ones that aren’t DSPS) and finally lead me to discover a viable treatment path. I live in New Jersey but have and will travel anywhere for the possibility of real help. Because of my other issues, my situation has lately become dire thus making treatment of my DSPS all the more important. I expect that it will not be too long before I am simply unable to leave my bed even for treatment so, if you would feel comfortable furnishing the name and contact information for your doctor I would GREATLY appreciate it. I can be reached at reverzzzee@yahoo.com. If you feel you need more information before proferring your doctor’s info I would be happy to provide you with whatever you need. Thanks, hope to hear from you: Jenny M

  4. I just discovered your blog and even after reading just this one entry I want to extend a huge THANK YOU for this! I have been struggling with insomnia for nearly 3 years straight, and have unofficially diagnosed myself with DSPS through keeping sleep logs (with a program called Sleep Chart, and doing much research and reading). I have just recently talked with my doctor about going to a sleep study to be diagnosed, as Sleep Apnea also runs in my family (my Dad has it, and his Dad did as well).

    It is extremely reassuring to know that I am not alone in this struggle! So many people don’t understand that this is not a matter of just staying awake all night and playing online, or partying too much- it is a serious medical condition, and it is not fun! I’m at the stage of acceptance right now, and being able to reach out and communicate with others with the same problem makes all the difference.

    I am a graduate student (I just got to my office on campus to begin my work “for the day” lol) and it is so completely depressing when someone asks, “Hey Lauren, what’s wrong?” and I’ll say I haven’t slept much in the past few days and they reply, “Oh, that’s grad school, lol!” and then they brush me off when I mention a sleep disorder.

    I am looking forward to going back to the beginning and reading all of your entries.

  5. Thank you for commenting, Lauren, and for your kind words. Glad the blog helps – that’s what it’s for.

  6. It seems like I have written them all myself! Yes i said the same thing!

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