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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.)

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