The following is a visitor-submitted question or story. For more, you can submit your own sleep story here, or browse the collection of experiences and questions other visitors have shared here.

Intermittent Sleep And A Doctor Diagnosing DSPS and ADD

by Yael
(Tel Aviv, Israel)

Hi, I am a 47 year old woman. From age 18, I can only fall asleep with the t.v. on, when it's quiet I can hear the silence and it sounds like an alarm going off, then I finally manage to fall asleep after watching t.v for 2 hours, that condition I somehow got used to.

My big problem is that in the past 6 months when I finally fall asleep, I only sleep for 4 hours and I'm suddenly wide awake and can't fall back to sleep, sometimes I'll fall back to sleep 3 hours later only to get a half hour's sleep before my alarm goes off, needless to say the lack of sleep makes it had to function at work.

I went to my doctor and she sent me to an ear, nose and throat doctor who checked me and said it has nothing to do with him and refered me
to a neurologist. The neurologist says that i have delayed sleep phase syndrome and has also determined after asking me some questions about my study habits when i was younger and my abilities then and now to concentrate when trying to learn something new, that I have Attention Deficit Disorder and has prescribed for me Ritalin and Circadin.

I can understand the Circadin but I don't understand how the ritalin can help my sleep problem. I am sensitive to medicines and I'm afraid to start taking ritalin which has so many side effects.

Any advice about how taking Ritalin will help my sleep problems?

Thank you for your attention, will really appreciate your thoughts.

Kevin: Hey Yael, thanks for writing in. ADD often gets thrown into the mix unnecessarily when dealing with cases involving sleep deprivation. If we're constantly sleep deprived, our attention and focus are going to go haywire as well--that's easy to see. Occasionally this can get read into too much and prescribed another cause, when the real cause is just not having enough sleep. Perhaps once your sleep problems go away your "ADD" diagnosis won't be relevant at all either. Maybe that's a concern you want to bring up with your doctor while discussing with him or her his or her reasoning for the Ritalin prescription, before starting on the medicine.

On another note, if the T.V. keeps you up for several hours but silence is deafening, perhaps try listening to some soft music instead. The lack of visual stimuli could prevent you from getting caught up in whatever storyline is unfolding on the television, but the steady noise should soothe the silence away. Possibly a way to get back an hour or two on some nights. What do you think?

I'm a big fan myself of calming music and even meditation--just trying to clear my head and feel what's going on in the world around me. Everyone has a different style when it comes to what music relaxes them. One cool site that recognizes this real well is Their homepage actually lets you customize relaxing sounds based on different clips they have. They also have pre-arranged tracks that you can purchase.

Another beautiful source of music to relax by comes from Easy Sleep Music. They have a pretty huge variety of nice sounds, and you can preview their CDs here on iTunes.

I hope this is helpful. We'll be having a series of articles coming out soon on circadian rhythms as they relate to sleep, so if you'd like to stay posted about those feel free to sign up for our free newsletter or blog to get updated when they come out.


(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.)

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Thoughts On Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome.

Enjoy this page? Please help us pay it forward to others who would find it valuable by Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, Stumbling, and/or Voting below.

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.

More Questions:

Ask | Answer

The Stanford Sleep Book

Stanford Sleep Book Picture

Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

Important Disclaimer

Please Note:

The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.

For more info, see our
Terms of Use.