Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sounds like me - wide awake at night

I've always tended to be what is called a night owl - functioning best at night rather than in the mornings. When I should be going to bed I find myself most alert and engaged. Even when dog tired during the day I'd often find myself that same night forcing myself to go to bed just because I had to get up soon. Sometimes I'd find myself staying up to 2-3 even 4 in the morning even though I knew I had to get up in 3 or 4 hours. It wasn't insomnia - I could sleep easily - just not when I wanted to. But at night I was simply wide awake, not sleepy, and wanting to do things. If I tried to go to bed earlier I'd often just roll around until later in the morning.

Left to my own devices without a set schedule I find I'm very capable of getting completely off kilter with the normal day/night schedule. From a young age I often felt like my clock was set to 25 or 26 hour days - it's always been easy to stay up late - and generally a struggle to get going in the morning. I kind of felt like something was wrong with me because of Ben Franklin's quote about "early to bed, early to rise..."

Anyhow, I noticed this effect drastically the other day when I was draggy much of the day after about 3-4 hours of sleep. I found myself wanting to take a nap even about 12 hours after I woke up. But then I hit a certain point and it's like everything in me lights up at full go and I'm easily good for another 6-8 hours - very clear headed and motivated - and I have to force myself to go to bed just because I know I need to remembering how draggy I was during the day.

So I did a web search to investigate what may be going on. This interesting article popped up: Tired in the Morning and Awake at Night?

It says there's a thing called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome that is characteristic of this - and it's essentially due to biological clocks being out of whack. The fancy term is Circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Now I don't think what I have is very severe, because I can still force myself to wake up whenever I need to - but again - left to my own devices I do think my body may run on abnormally long days - and I've always had groggy mornings for as long as I can remember. Apparently there's a thing called light therapy that I could try if I wanted to test things - it'd involve sitting in front of very bright lights right after waking up each day to shock my clock back into time. (I think this idea has been shown to work for overcoming jet lag also). Maybe put a flood light staring me in the face while I ride my exercise bike?

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