When my mother underwent chemotherapy, we spent a lot of time visiting the phlebotomy lab for blood testing. I was always impressed by how easily the phlebotomist was able to find and puncture a vein to draw blood on the first try. I knew there had to be a method to it, and was astounded by how effortless and painless they made the process. It led me to research a lot about blood tests, from drawing to the actual screening. I've created this site to share what I've learned in the hopes of teaching others. The more you understand, the more control you can have over your own health care.
If you don't feel sleepy until very late at night and have trouble waking up on time in the morning, you may be suffering from delayed sleep-wake disorder. It's caused by an abnormality in your body's circadian rhythm, which is what's responsible for releasing hormones that make you feel sleepy and help you wake up in the morning.
Thankfully, sleep medicine doctors can help you reset your sleep schedule so that you're able to wake up fully rested. To learn more about the symptoms of delayed sleep-wake disorder, how it's diagnosed, and how it's treated, read on.
What Are the Symptoms of Delayed Sleep-Wake Disorder?
When you have delayed sleep-wake disorder, you'll fall asleep and wake up later than other people, and this can make it hard to get a full night's sleep when you need to wake up early in the morning for school or work. The lack of sleep caused by delayed sleep-wake disorder can make it difficult to concentrate during the day, and it can also cause you to feel fatigued. The brain fog and fatigue you feel can make it difficult to focus in school and function at your job, so delayed sleep-wake disorder can seriously affect your quality of life.
Unlike other sleep disorders, people with delayed sleep-wake disorder typically sleep fine once they're able to fall asleep. This makes it different from insomnia, which can cause people to sleep poorly and wake up multiple times throughout the night. If you wake up fine and feel refreshed during weekends when you're able to sleep in, this can be a clue that you have delayed sleep-wake disorder.
How Does a Sleep Medicine Doctor Diagnose Delayed Sleep-Wake Disorder?
If you think that you have delayed sleep-wake disorder, your sleep medicine doctor will give you an actigraph to wear in order to assess your sleeping patterns. You wear this device on your wrist like a watch, and it automatically records the time at which you fall asleep and when you wake up in the morning. You'll also be asked to keep a sleep diary that lists when you first try to fall asleep and how you feel in the morning. Using this information, a sleep medicine doctor can determine if you're naturally falling asleep and waking up later than normal.
How Can Delayed Sleep-Wake Disorder Be Treated?
Treating delayed sleep-wake disorder requires improving your sleep hygiene in order to reset your body's circadian rhythm. You'll be asked to avoid bright lights when it's near bedtime, and you'll also be asked to maintain the same sleeping schedule every day. Your sleep medicine doctor may also suggest exercising outdoors in the morning and turning on bright lights in your room when you first wake up. Your body's circadian rhythm is based on the amount of light you're able to see, so staying away from bright lights at night and turning them on in the morning helps to slowly nudge it back to normal.
Your sleep medicine doctor may also prescribe medication to help treat your symptoms. Melatonin is your body's natural sleep hormone, and taking it near bedtime can help you fall asleep at a regular time. Your sleep medicine doctor may also prescribe modafinil for you to use during the day. This blocks your body's receptors for sleep hormones, which helps keep you alert during the day.
If you think that you have delayed sleep-wake disorder, schedule an appointment with a sleep medicine clinic in your area. If you have symptoms that are unrelated to delayed sleep-wake disorder, such as waking up frequently during the night or feeling fatigued even when you're able to sleep in, they may perform additional testing to see if you have another sleep disorder. Otherwise, they'll be able to help you reset your body's circadian rhythm so that you're able to naturally maintain a normal sleep schedule. For more information on sleep medicine, contact a professional near you.Share