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Can't Fall Asleep Till 2:30 or Later, Should I Seek Help???

by Amanda
(Flowery Branch, GA)

Since I was little I haven't been able to fall asleep before 2:30 without medicine. I can remember being in elementary school and looking at the clock to find that it was 4 in the morning and I hadn't fallen asleep yet. It got to the point that some of the medicine was no longer effective in putting me to sleep. This past year, I would fall asleep about 2-2:30 in the morning (after going to bed between 11-12) and have to wake up at 7:30. When I wake up I consistently felt nauseous and had horrible headaches. I would then go to school and pass out (or try to) in my first period. I would have long exhausting days and would be wide awake by 11. I felt consistently fatigued and sick. Thankfully I would VERY occasionally pass out at 10.

I will be leaving for college in a month where I will have to wake up between 5-6 every morning and be in bed by 10-11. My mom is convinced that I need to go to bed earlier, but no matter what time I go to bed I always fall asleep at the same time.

Should I talk to my doctor about this????

Kevin: Hey Amanda, I can relate. You can talk to your doctor, mentioning a delayed sleep phase, and hope that he or she is familiar and helpful with circadian rhythm problems.

You can also though look into strategically shifting your circadian rhythm forward using bright light therapy. Strong light in the morning, no computer screens or other bright light at night. They have light boxes that are specially designed for this, and if you get one make sure to get one at least 10,000 lux in strength. Keeping your window curtains open so that the sun shines through your eyelids in the early morning can also be helpful after a few days. Your brain's biological clock will start to realize it's supposed to kick into waking gear then.

Some people say that doses of melatonin at night will help with this process too, but I think some scientists are skeptical at how much affect over-the-counter doses can have and some worry about possible effects on the menstrual cycle as well. Melatonin is widely used, but if you take that step as well, just make sure to read up on it first.

All the best in college!


(Please keep in mind that I am a student of sleep science and not a medical doctor. Please take any thoughts I give with my background in mind.)

Comments for Can't Fall Asleep Till 2:30 or Later, Should I Seek Help???

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Aug 14, 2011
Falling asleep earlier
by: Sean Folkson - NightFood

Hi Karen,

Kevin is right on about talking to your doctor. As you work towards moving your bedtime earlier, remember to keep on a 7-day schedule. That should also help...there is a tendency to try to "catch up" on sleep a couple of days a week when making a shift like this, but that will make it more difficult.

Also, keep in mind that as you get older, you will tend to naturally start to shift into an earlier bedtime. I know it's hard, but try not to identify too closely with your (temporary) 2:30 natural sleep time, or labeling yourself as an "insomniac" as I see so many young people doing.

With the right tactics, and right attitude, you should be able to make some progress. And, of course, do what you can to schedule later classes :-)

best of luck!

Sean Folkson - Founder, NightFood, Inc.

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