Ever since high school, I’ve had a peculiar problem.
No matter how little sleep I get the entire week, no matter how much I avoid caffeine, no matter how much exercise I do…I am wide awake in the middle of the night doing my best work!
Often my most productive hours are between midnight and 2 or 3AM, even if I’ve gotten only a few hours sleep the night before and been up for 18 hours.
It’s truly a bizarre pattern of dead tired mornings, walking around like a jet-lagged zombie, followed by a tortuous afternoon in desperate need of a nap, and finally an evening where I start to wake up.
“What could be wrong with me?” I wondered for years. Surely this was not a normal way to live!
As it turns out, I’m not alone with this small problem. Like others, I eventually managed to deal with it (taking only afternoon classes while in college, and starting my own business to set my own hours). But it always bothered me because everyone I met didn’t seem to understand my problem.
I tried every piece of advice that I heard: “Read before bed”, “Drink a glass of warm milk”, “No caffeine after noon”, but it didn’t seem to work. I even spoke to several doctors about it who didn’t have any good answers. Even if I forced myself to get in bed at a reasonable hour, sure enough, I would toss and turn until 3AM before finally falling asleep.
If this sounds like a problem you have, then I’m here to help, because you may have something called “Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome”.
It’s a well documented sleep disorder that goes undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed) by the vast majority of doctors today. You can read more about it in this excellent article
As you may recall, everyone has a biological clock, known as a circadian rhythm, that regulates when we are awake and when we feel tired. People with delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS for short) tend to have:
- A shifted circadian rhythm
- A longer than normal circadian rhythm
The second one in particular is difficult to live with because it causes you to operate on a 25 (or more) hour day. Each morning you want to sleep in a bit later, and each night you want to stay up a bit later. The world is moving too fast for your biological clock, so you are always a bit behind!
After trying everything under the sun to correct this efficiency problem in my life (since it was certainly affecting my productivity), I finally stumbled upon light therapy. It sounds bizarre, but you can actually use light to reset your biological clock. In particular, certain wave lengths of light seem to work better than others.
Thinking back to the caveman days, life was very simple getting plenty of sunlight during the day and it being pitch black at night. Our brains evolved to operated on this schedule over millions of years, but with today’s society full of artificial lights and plenty of activities to stay up for, some of our brains (mine included) have gotten confused.
Simply getting some sunlight early in the morning can help reset your biological clock, but for those who are in an office building, there are some simple light therapy devices that can help reset your biological clock. One that I’ve used and would recommend is the Apollo GoLite.
I use this for about 30 minutes each morning, shining some blue wavelength light on myself, and after about the first week of using it my entire sleep cycle had been reset. Getting up a regular hour no longer felt like I had just been awoken in the middle of the night! It was truly remarkable because after years of struggling with this problem, I finally found something that worked.
So stop trying to drink ten cups of coffee each morning, setting two alarms, and sneaking off to your car during your lunch hour to catch a nap! You might just have delayed sleep phase syndrome, and you can do something about it with light therapy!
Brian Armstrong is an authority on time management and how to quit your job to work for yourself! You can download three FREE chapters of his book and sign up for his free online course, “Successful Entrepreneurship”, by clicking here now: Start Your Own BusinessRead full content
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