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DSPD/ADD Since I Was 7 Years Old

by Sherri
(Utah, USA)

For years I never knew what was wrong with me. I'm 38 now and have struggled with DSPD (Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder) since about 7. I had been in and out of hospitals, had one psychological test after another. My parents were told that I was brilliant, but (always the "but") I was depressed, borderline, unmotivated and lots of other fun descriptors.

This went on for years until I decided two years ago enough was enough and I was going to get to the bottom of this issue once and for all no matter what.

I started researching online and found a myriad of possible mimicker type physical issues. Everything from hormonal imbalances to not enough vitamin D. I had my medical dr run just about every test under the sun to rule out all of the physical possibilities. When I exhausted that route and still came up empty-handed, I turned to a psychologist, I figured if all these issues weren't physical then they must be mental.

After meeting with him a couple of times, he started asking what I consider tricky questions designed to test a theory about ADD. Based on my answers, he wanted a brain map done to confirm the probability of ADD. Lo and Behold, we learned that I had the classic brain map of someone with ADD, along with the procrastination, lack of motivation for accomplishing mundane, drawn out, or boring tasks, there was a "sleepy" executive function of the brain, unless the issue was stimulating in some way.

is also the hyper-focus-ability for ADD'ers for me if I'm interested in something I will chase it and focus on it to the exclusion of all else.

In reviewing my sleep study after still having issues with sleeping and waking and telling him I always felt better and more alive and alert at night and did my best work at night, we discovered it took me an hour to fall asleep, along with the other symptoms of DSPD we finally had a clearer picture of the issues.

However, despite my efforts to change my sleep/wake cycle for years I have come to the conclusion it's time to stop fighting it and start working with it, use it to my advantage stop thinking of it as a "disorder" and think of it as just being a little different. While I may not fall into the "socially acceptable" sleep/wake times it doesn't mean I can't be social or accepted.

So for those of you who have struggled with this all your life and no matter what you still can't seem to get it to work, then maybe all you need is a change of perspective or new angle. I've decided enough is enough. No more lightboxes and sleeping pills and anti-depressants and beating myself up for not being in the "socially acceptable" sleep/wake times. I have ADD/DSPD. This is me and after years of fighting it being anxious, depressed, angry and disheartened I finally accept this is who I am and it doesn't have to work against me.

Comments for DSPD/ADD Since I Was 7 Years Old

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Dec 10, 2011
DSPD since I was 7 also.
by: Anonymous

This is me! After years of conforming to the "normal" schedule and getting less than 5 hours a sleep every week day, and sleeping 10-12 hours on weekends, I developed severe depression and anxiety. I was sure there was something wrong with me and my stress levels just kept increasing. Of couse they did! I was perpetually sleep deprived! Now that I know what is "wrong" with me, I feel so much better. I will find a way to make work and life work FOR me rather than against me. Bless.

Jan 16, 2012
accept the condition, don't seek away
by: Anonymous

what you mention is great
sometimes all you need is adapting yourself to imposed conditions; it is sometimes if not ever, the best solution for overcoming unchangeable status that's what I call containedness

Jan 22, 2012
I understand
by: Anonymous

I have finally "accepted" it, because I have finally learned it will not ever go away. However, it still causes me significant distress and disability, as I can no longer work (other illnesses as well as DSPS), and I am constantly frustrated when I need to get anything done that must be done during "normal business hours".

Dec 06, 2012
ADD/DSPD Since Childhood
by: Rain Stickland

I was probably the same age as yourself when I stopped being able to fall asleep at the 'proper' time. I'd finally go down around 2 or 3 AM, despite being very physically active. Quite a few years ago I read about someone else who had the same issue. His parents simply switched him to the schedule he worked best on, and that worked for him. It works for me, too, now that I no longer bother trying to 'fit in'. This is simply how some people are. Not everyone is the same, and I refuse to ruin my life to fit into what other people think is supposed to be normal. It's normal for ME! I'm 41 now, and don't regret the change of lifestyle in the least. I work for myself now, and though I may not make as much money as I used to, being happy is worth it.

Aug 06, 2013
Doctors Suck
by: Pam

You sound like my clone. I too have gone through hundreds of psychological tests, EEGs, MRIs, CAT scans-- the whole shabang. Only after I dug deep on the internet did I finally figure out the root of all my suffering. It's funny that I only have depression and anxiety when I'm sleep deprived. Perhaps all the deadly pills I've been put on by careless, mindless doctors since age 9 were unnecessary.

Mar 08, 2015
Finally - someone who gets it! NEW
by: Savana B

I've tried so hard to "fix" my sleeping schedule and go to bed at earlier hours, and when I do, I end up more miserable than just sticking to my norm. I started getting heartburn and headaches from the sleep loss. People don't understand why I was sleep deprived, since they don't have this problem, they figure I should just simply SLEEP. I recently found out about DSPD and for once felt understood. I have gone to bed late and slept in since I was a very young child, I believe its just the way I am created. I'm so tired of trying to adapt to the "regular" hours of society and I will continue to go to bed at 2 and wake up at 12 because I actually get rest. Just let me sleep!

Mar 24, 2015
Switching to your natural cycle is great if you can do it NEW
by: Linda

I have always been the "night owl" and only in the past couple years realized it was an actual disorder. I had been sleep-deprived much of my life and have been fortunate in recent years to, as another poster wrote, work with, and not against, my DSPD.

I started shifting my schedule in college and did all I could to avoid early morning classes, but I remained sleep-deprived with generally once or twice a week having to do an early class. Later I moved from day to evening jobs and after that was able to gear my career toward something I could do in the afternoon and evenings. About four years ago, I let my sleep cycle move 100% to where it wanted. It landed at about 6am to 2:30pm.

I am so grateful that I was able to make this change. My body feels so much better.

But even if you can make the switch--which sadly for most people is not practical--doing is not for everyone. Life dictates most of us DSPD-people get up earlier than we want at least sometimes, and that can goof us up for days following. (It is like the 7am waking person getting UP at midnight or 2am a few times a month).

DSPD-people who do go with their natural sleep cycle find it hard to operate in a world where they are so off schedule from everyone else. Most businesses in my world are only open a couple hours a day, and first thing in my "morning" to boot. You have to really hustle if you want to hit the bank.

DSPD also makes it hard for personal relationships and family visits. Visiting my family on the east coast from Arizona is ever the challenge, when my normal wake time is their dinner time. I never had children, but I can't imagine how hard it is for people with DSPS, when even normal sleep-patterned people become sleep-deprived.

Lastly as far as switching to your normal (delayed) sleep pattern, all of us with a late wake time know the about the explaining, or covering up, as to why we had no idea something happened because we were still sound asleep at noon. I end up lying about it often because of the stereotypes I get (if you sleep til noon, you must be lazy, depressed, a drug addict, etc). "Must be nice" is another comment I'll get. No, not really. I have learned to be selective with whom I share my sleep schedule.

I think my father only really "got" it the first time he stayed at our home, when he got up at 3am, and I was sorting through a basket of laundry with a casserole in the oven. "Ohhh," he said, as if a light had gone on.

All this, and for me, it has been WORTH IT to go with my body's natural cycle. I feel so much better, and my anxiety and depression is also much better. I am still tired when I wake, but I am generally rested and am definitely not groggy.

For most people, ongoing light therapy and melatonin will be the answer, but if you have the ability to be in sync with your natural sleep rhythm, it can be a blessing.

Incidentally, when I am on vacation in an oceanfront room, my sleep schedule shifts within 24 hours to about 11pm to 8am! And I feel fabulous. My think my body responds to ocean tides, if not changes in light as well, like the rest of the world. Highly recommended. Let's all move to Hawaii. :)

May 23, 2015
@Linda What is it about the tide? NEW
by: R in Menlo

Linda, you kill me! I feel exactly the same about the ocean and left AZ to live by it. Recently Dx with DSPD, I'm trying the medication route as I have a new baby, and I'm hoping it works. Crazy to hear all the others here who feel exactly as I do. Struggled for so many years not knowing what was wrong with me and tired of feeling tired. Thanks for writing everyone.

Feb 03, 2016
That's me too a T! NEW
by: Anon Marie

Although the DSPS stared when I was 12 yrs old and around 14 when I was diagnosed with ADD and it sounds exactly like you type. How are you doing now? My confidence sucks. My family is all like: early bird gets the worm. And tryers try, doers do! Etc. etc. etc. Any pointers?

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