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 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,