April 21, 2009

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)

(From Wikipedia citation...)
Delayed sleep-phase syndrome (DSPS), also known as delayed sleep-phase disorder (DSPD) or delayed sleep-phase type (DSPT), is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, a chronic disorder of the timing of sleep, peak period of alertness, core body temperature, hormonal and other daily rhythms relative to societal norms. People with DSPS tend to fall asleep some hours after midnight and have difficulty waking up in the morning.
Finally. Another confirmation that I'm not crazy.
Discovering this condition gave me the same overwhelming sense of relief that I had when I was diagnosed with Depression and Hypothyroidism. I'm not crazy or hypochonriacal or lazy or selfish. There is a medical explanation for my inability to sleep according to a "normal societal schedule."
To boot, I read DSPS can stem from the hormonal imbalances that occur with Hypothyroidism, and about 40% of DSPS sufferers have a preexisting thyroid disfunction. That's me!
I don't have an official diagnosis yet, but getting one may be difficult. Not only does DSPS go undiagnosed by physicians who are not sleep specialists, DSPS is often misdiagnosed as similar sleep disorders. As a result, doctors may prescribed medications and treatments that will do nothing to correct the problem.
So far, I've read the most common treatments for DSPS are light box therapy and melatonin. Sleep aids don't help, because the true problem lies in my body's adherence to 25plus-hour day. Relying on medication to go to sleep earlier still does not change my natural number of waking hours and sleeping hours. All medication does is moves the cycle back to an earlier hour.
The "med-quick-fix" is just that. It may establish a somewhat "normal" sleep pattern for a day or two, but because my cycle is longer than the average 24-hour day, it's only a matter of time before I'm right back where I started. Further, sleep aids can be habit forming, and they're not worth feeling like a truck hit me when I get up. Common sense tells me sleep aids are not worth it.
So what am I supposed to do, now that I know what my problem is?
I don't think any amount of medication therapy or light therapy can adjust my body's natural rhythm. Am I doomed to a lifetime out of step with the world?
Worst-case scenario: Yes, I will always keep a night schedule.
Consequences: I'll only function in the family at 100% during a few select hours of each day.
This angers me, because I feel that the whole family is being robbed of precious time. With Rocky going on 17 this year, Priss becoming a teenager, Squeak no longer a "little kid," time with the children is most precious to me. I don't want to miss a minute of it all.
Losing waking hours is losing time with them, and that is most upsetting. But I've tried and tried and tried to adjust on my own, and I've failed. The result is guilt, guilt, and more guilt, which exacerbates my depression and makes me feel like the worst mother in the world.
This is not reality. I am NOT the worst mother in the world. I am NOT selfish OR lazy. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is either not sleepy or sleepy at the wrong time!
I don't know what I'm going to do about it. I don't know what I can do about it. But I can say right here that I'm forgiving myself for my wacky schedule, and I don't intend to fight it anymore.
Surely, there is some way I can shift around activities and schedules so everyone is happy, rested, and taken care of. The kids are self-sufficient now, so there has to be a way to work things out.
I think the first step is to sit down with the family and explain what I'm going through. In an open forum, we can all discuss our feelings, propose ideas to handle it, and figure out ways to deal with the negatives that are bound to come up.
And I'm going to spend a lot of time coming to a greater peace with my condition. Doing or possessing anything that does not fit in with social norms subjects me to all sorts of judgments and criticisms, but I've got to get over all that. Everyone else is not the priority; the family is. And if it works for the betterment of the family, then that's all that matters. We have, after all, overcome the stigma of homeschooling. Surely, we can overcome the stigma of an unorthodox household schedule.

No comments: