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I Am Not A 'Bad' Person! I Am Just Different

I was formally diagnosed with "Circadian Rhythm Disorder, Delayed Sleep Phase" last year at age 43. I had an overnight sleep study, extensive analysis and interviews with a Neurologist/Sleep Specialist. I've heard Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome is the name for the adolescent version described on this page.

I am also Bipolar, and regular sleep is key to preventing manic episodes. I like the analogy between sleeping pills and a fire extinguisher. The common misconception that sleep deprivation is better than taking a pill is baloney. I see that as part of the cultural judgement that "good, clean living will make you an early bird."

Throughout my working life, I believed shame from bosses, co-workers and myself for not being able to wake early. Even in a workplace that offered flexible scheduling, I was allowed to begin my day at 9:30, but faced regular insults from people who chose to arrive hours earlier. Particularly as a manager, I was seen as setting a 'bad example.' I had a depressing belief that the early bird always wins.

My sleep specialist's treatment? Stop the struggle and build a life that works for me. There are many careers and jobs that don't require early wake time torture.

Kevin: Thanks for sharing such a fresh perspective in your story. I think realizing the value of this particular advice from your sleep specialist is a key liberator for people like you who have had delayed sleep phases for a long time. Other posts on this site have similar sentiments, including this one that comes to mind: My Sleep Schedule Doesn't Fit Society's.


(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.)

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About This Site

Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?

A Note On Visitor-Submitted Questions:

Publishing sleep stories and questions from our visitors is meant to create a forum for open and proactive dialogue about an extremely important portion of our lives (one that occupies 1/3 of it and affects the other 2/3) that isn't talked about enough. It is not meant to substitute a trip to the doctor or the advice of a specialist. It's good to talk; it is not good to avoid consulting someone who's profession it is to help you with this kind of stuff.

If you are in any way concerned about your sleep health, don't wait for an answer on here, and don't necessarily rely on them. See a sleep specialist in your area as soon as possible.

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