Question: Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a very hard time falling asleep. It normally takes me about an hour, but there have been times when it took 7 times that length.
For example, back when I was about 14 years old, I had to go to sleep at 8:30 because I had to wake up at 4:30 for morning swim practice. 9:30 went by..then 10:30..11:30..midnight..soon enough I looked at the clock and it was 4am. Awesome. I still went to practice and it was terrible and painful and excruciating. Even now, it takes me hours to fall asleep. Any noise, lights, slight disturbances (like typing, or a very very distant party) can keep me awake. I always seem to be too warm, or too cold, or not comfortable, or I start thinking too much, or for no reason at all I just can’t fall asleep.The only time I can fall asleep more readily is when I’m flat-out exhausted: when I’m running on 3 hours of sleep or after I’ve worked really hard at practice. But besides that, nada.I can be exhausted and still not sleep. I start getting tired at around 8pm, so I go to bed after my homework at around 9 or 10. But I’m lucky if I fall asleep before 11:30 or midnight. And then often I have to wake up at 5:30am for swim practice. Missing practice because you didn’t sleep well works…once. But every night? No way. You learn to live with it. Or take a lot of naps – that’s what I always did/do. I really need help getting to sleep quicker. I’ve tried warm milk, electric blankets, emWave devices..you name it. I’ve even taken a sleeping pill and it didn’t work (most of the time it does though..but that’s not healthy every day). Other than exercising for every waking hour, I’m out of ideas.Help?

Answer: Hi Alexandra, Thanks for writing in and sharing your experiences. As a fellow athlete with morning practices who has been sleep deprived many a time, I feel ya. Have you looked into delayed sleep phase syndrome at all? It will probably be worth reading up on a bit at least, because the information on shifting circadian rhythms and bright light may help you glean some insight into what is preventing you from falling asleep in a timely fashion.All the best, and feel free to ask any questions or report on any progress or setbacks in the comments section below!

Thanks for your question and good luck,
Kevin