Living with Chronic Pain

At-Home Treatments for Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome


What is delayed sleep phase syndrome?

When the sleep-wake cycle is disrupted to the point that everyday activities are affected, it is considered a circadian rhythm disorder. One such disorder is delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). This condition is characterized by at least a two-hour delay (going to sleep at a later time and waking at a later time) in comparison to a standard sleep-wake cycle. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty waking in the morning, irritability, decreased alertness, and difficulty with concentration. DSPS is most common in teenagers and young adults.

It is important to note that individuals with delayed sleep phase syndrome do not choose to stay up late; their circadian rhythm, or internal clock, is delayed by two hours or more. Research suggests that genetics plays a role in the development of DSPS.

At-home treatments for delayed sleep phase syndrome

Although some conventional medical treatments for delayed sleep phase syndrome are available, much of the treatment for DSPS consists of at-home treatments and changes in habitual behaviors. Maintaining good sleep hygiene is a crucial component in the treatment of DSPS. Good sleep hygiene habits include the following:

  • Refraining from using electronics, such as televisions, computers, or cell phones for an hour before bedtime
  • Keeping the sleeping area dark by closing the blinds, using blackout curtains, or wearing an eye mask
  • Keeping the bedroom cool and comfortable by running a fan or using light blankets in the summer
  • Relaxing before bedtime with activities such as a warm bath or light reading
  • Avoiding naps during the day or napping earlier in the day if necessary
  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule even during weekends
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the evening
  • Avoiding vigorous physical activity for a few hours before bed