Can't sleep without daytime
February 7, 2011 3:02 PM   Subscribe

My spouse has having problems going to sleep and staying that way for as long as we've been together. We've found a few things on Dr. Wikipedia, but wanted to get the hive mind's opinion.

She is in her early 30s and can't usually sleep at night unless she's past the point of exhaustion and, even then, it isn't very restful. When the sun comes up, however, it's another matter and sleep comes quickly for 7-8 hours at a stretch. She's said that her childhood saw her staying up almost all night and then going to sleep as soon as daylight hit. It's not for lack of trying that she doesn't sleep at night. Usually she'll wind up on a schedule where she's up most of the night and then will try going to sleep an hour earlier each 24-hour interval. This goes OK until going to sleep around 1am, and then she goes back to not being able to sleep without the sun. Having a light on in the bedroom doesn't seem to change anything.

Here is the portion she wanted me to post:

"if it's so much easier for me to sleep during daylight and be wired when it's dark, is there a possibility that something is reversed in my biorhythm? it's also common for people to feel depressed when it rains and happy when it's sunny, but the sun pisses me off and i feel relieved when it rains.

i know the body is used to setting off certain processes when it sees daylight and turning them off at night so i'm [also] trying to figure out how unhealthy it would be to always sleep during the day and be awake at night, since it seems i can only sleep comfortably during the day no matter how many hours i stay up in order to tire myself out."

She was doing research and found a page on delayed sleep phase syndrome whose symptoms near-exactly match hers, especially: DSPS patients cannot simply force themselves to sleep early. They may toss and turn for hours in bed, and sometimes not sleep at all... She has no problem sleeping, it just has to be during the day.

YAN[her]D, of course.
posted by fireoyster to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, you could have delayed sleep phase syndrome. You could also have something else. The best way to figure out what's going on is to get a sleep study from a doctor. You will sleep (or rather, attempt to sleep) overnight in a lab and have your sleep monitored to see what your body does when you're sleeping or trying to sleep. Once you know what's actually going on, you can try using medication, supplements, light therapy, scheduling, and other treatments and tricks to make sleeping on the rest of the world's schedule more comfortable for you. Good luck!
posted by decathecting at 3:06 PM on February 7, 2011

I'm the same way and I use sleeping pills Sunday and Monday, maybe Tuesday, to force myself back into regular sleep pattern for the work week. I should have started doing it years ago, I've never been so well rested! Other than that- work nights? I did for many years. Living in the far north makes it really obvious if youre a night person: you're the one with tons of energy in the winter when everyone else is dragging.
posted by fshgrl at 3:11 PM on February 7, 2011

Has she tried melatonin?
posted by GuyZero at 3:19 PM on February 7, 2011

Seconding the melatonin recommendation -- it works extremely well.
posted by kate blank at 3:31 PM on February 7, 2011

she sounds just like me - Delayed sleep phase syndrome. I haven't gotten a proper diagnosis, but I've slept better during the day for as long as I can remember, My solution is to work the night shift, and organize my life so that it's ok if I go to bed at 6am, and sleep until 2pm. In fact, I totally love working nights - it's way calmer and quieter, I get so much done - it's been a big plus in my career.

One thing I find really helps when I do need to get to sleep at a more normal time is audiobooks - a good book, preferably one I have listened to before, listened to quietly (using an earbud if my boyfriend is staying over) with the lights out. It's really relaxing, and helps to stop my mind from racing so I can sleep.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:11 PM on February 7, 2011

i'm [also] trying to figure out how unhealthy it would be to always sleep during the day and be awake at night,

as long as you're getting enough sleep, it's totally fine - probably healthier for you, because you'll be getting a better sleep.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:14 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing melatonin, and also try calcium at bedtime. That zonks me out.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:14 PM on February 7, 2011

Spouse suffers same thing, various prescription pills worked or did not work, some left nasty metallic taste in the mouth. Only thing that has worked for spouse is melatonin, twenty to thirty minutes later they are out. Theres various forms, the straight form of 'melatonin' and then OTC products that use melatonin like MidNite PM which is a very low dose and only requires 3 hours of sleep before driving.
I use Sleep MD when I have insomnia, expensive at 15 bucks for 30 of them but its extended release so I stay asleep.
posted by aorkis at 4:16 PM on February 7, 2011

Er, sorry OP, posted too soon. I think you're going to have to seek a doctor to narrow this down, as there are myriad reasons why a sleep schedule is "abnormal." It could be delayed sleep phase syndrome, but it could be a bunch of other things. Have you spoken to a doctor yet?
posted by asciident at 4:17 PM on February 7, 2011

Huh, I wonder if DSPS is what my husband could have. I went for a sleep study test and it is relatively simple, or at least the one I went to was. They give you a microphone to tape to your throat, a canula and a box that measures your breathing. I hope your spouse can find a proper diagnosis regardless :-)
posted by Calzephyr at 4:54 PM on February 7, 2011

It sounds like a sleep laboratory test might be very useful.

It certainly sounds as though it might be delayed sleep phase syndrome, but it could also be anxiety or insomnia.

She might have sleep apnoea, or restless legs syndrome or Asperger's (people with Asperger's often can't get to sleep until 1am/2am/3am/4am/5am. Melatonin helps with this, and anxiety is big factor in it, but decreased sensitivity to light is another factor.)

Until you talk to a sleep Doctor and have the tests done, you don't know.
posted by Sockpuppets 'R' Us at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2011

Sleep questions are a frequent AskMe topic so much so that they're on the FAQ page over on the wiki. I assume I have DSPS but since it's not negatively impacting my life, I'm okay with it. I am a weird sleeper and I've basically got a two-pronged approach to this.

1. try to adjust my life so that my off sleeping hours [usually from 1-10 or 2-11] fit in with the work that I do. I don't accept jobs where I need to be at work before 10:30. I turn off my phone in the morning.
2. Try to adjust my sleeping so that I do not start slipping and going to sleep at 4 or 5 am, even though some days I'd like to.

I am very lucky in that my boyfriend is a lot like me, possibly moreso, so we fit together well. There are medicines you can take to stay awake and there are medicines that will knock you out at night. That said, if the off-shift sleeping is the ONLY problem, and your spouse is otherwise happy and healthy, there is no problem. I get the feeling, however, that the two of you may have differing schedules which can be somewhat stressful and not that great for snuggling/etc.

So, I suggest getting a sleep study done and going over the obvious sleep issues that people have outlined in those previous threads. I was surprised how much of my sleeping habits were able to be controlled by me when I decided it was my job to sleep better. I wish you the best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 5:09 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Another vote for the sleep study. It's also important to rule out endocrine conditions as many of them impact sleep, particularly Cushing's Disease and, more rarely, hyperthyroidism.
posted by Kalatraz at 6:24 PM on February 7, 2011

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