Do you know a night owl? Someone who stays up late almost every night no matter how early they crawl into bed? While he or she may just claim to function best at night, being unable to fall asleep for a few hours after your head hits the pillow may be the sign of an underlying problem known as delayed sleep.
This condition delays a person’s sleep by two or more hours past what is considered the normal bedtime. This makes it difficult for people suffering from delayed sleep to wake up when they desire the next morning. While this condition is normally found in adolescents and young adults, genetics, light exposure and stress can also lead to delayed sleep.
What is Delayed Sleep?
People who are dealing with delayed sleep aren’t running on the typical wake and sleep cycles that govern most of society. These night owls naturally tend to go to sleep and wake up later than the rest of the population, usually not falling asleep until the early hours of the morning.
However, what starts as drifting off to dreamland later and later each night can progress and begin interfering with your life and daily routine. When you’re staying up until all hours of the night, your body isn’t able to get the restful sleep you need, possibly resulting in the development of various sleep problems that should be addressed and treated promptly to prevent any long-term problems.
Causes of Delayed Sleep
The body’s internal clock, known as your circadian rhythm, controls your sleep and wake cycles. However, sometimes your clock may not reset or adjust to changes in your sleeping patterns. For most people, their bodies will adjust to going to sleep earlier, but if you suffer from delayed sleep, your body is still inclined to go to sleep at its usual time no matter how tired you feel.
Treating Delayed Sleep
If your late-night sleeping habits are starting to take a toll on your health, mood or productivity, it is important to take the right steps to manage the condition and minimize the impact of delayed sleep.
Gradual Internal Clock Advancement
If you’re struggling with delayed sleep, you may find gradually advancing your bedtime each night can help reset your internal clock. Try adjusting your sleep schedule by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you fall asleep at your desired bedtime.
Implement the Sleep Hygiene Cycle™
While delayed sleep has no one-size-fits-all cure, there are things you can do to help promote better quality sleep. Implement the Sleep Hygiene Cycle™ into your daily life to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. By taking simple steps, like avoiding blue light-emitting electronic devices and alcohol before bed, you can help get your body and mind ready for a restful night of sleep.
Take a Melatonin Sleep Aid
When your sleep and wake cycles are in sync, your body will produce melatonin naturally a few hours before your bedtime to help your body and mind prepare for sleep. If you suffer from delayed sleep, you may not be getting the melatonin your body needs early enough to fall asleep at your desired bedtime. A natural melatonin supplement, like REMfresh, can give your body the melatonin it requires to promote sleep onset and help you stay asleep throughout the night. If you’re under the age of 18, consult your physician prior to taking melatonin to improve your sleep habits.
Struggling to get the sleep you need affects more than just your energy levels. Your health, relationships, mood and memory can all be impacted by a lack of sleep. If you consider yourself a night owl, you may want to be examined for associated sleep problems like delayed sleep. With the proper diagnosis, you can take appropriate actions to find the right solution to your individual problem.