Question: It’s about 5:20am as I am writing this. This is pretty typical – all my friends know I don’t sleep very well or very much, and I’ve missed so many classes in this first year of college due to sleep that I’ve actually gotten called in by professors wondering if I’m okay. I also get really sleepy in the middle of the day and have trouble staying awake through a lot of my afternoon classes as well.
Even when I was little, I can remember lying in bed staring at the ceiling, wishing I could sleep but feeling totally alert. In high school, I could deal with it pretty easily. I just forced myself to get into bed earlier, and asked my parents for help waking up in the morning. Now, though, it’s different. It’s been making me miserable. On one hand, feeling tired makes me feel cranky, and my sleep habits make me feel like a slacker. On a different level, though, it’s created a lot of problems in my room. For a while I set 5 alarms every morning, but the result was just that they ended up yelling at me to wake up hours before they themselves needed to be awake. I also continually woke them up when I walked into the room late at night (or early in the morning). For all those and other reasons, I have started on a terrible habit – I just literally do not sleep at
all. I do this maybe once or twice a week now. It’s terrible, but I get to class, I get my work done, I don’t wake up my roommates unnecessarily, and the times I do get sleep, it feels more restful than the harrowed 2 or 3 hours I got before. There is still a social problem, however. I get so frustrated and fed up of hearing, “You need to sleep earlier.” I don’t know if I have DSPS, but everything about it sounds like me. In a way, being diagnosed with DSPS would almost be a relief – it would take the guilt for all the late nights off of my shoulders. Getting ‘better’ would be even nicer, but even just getting diagnosed would make my life easier in so many ways. How would I even go about doing that, though?Kevin: Hey Katherine, thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s one I think a lot of other college students can relate to. Feeling totally alert at night and exhausted during the day is a pretty sure sign of a delayed sleep phase, because it points to the fact that you’re body is telling you to be awake at night and asleep during the day.If you’re interested in getting your own personal sleep checked out, and the potential connection with DSPS, you can look into visiting a sleep center. You can visit SleepCenters.org to find one in your area.All the best,Kevin