What is sleep phase delay syndrome?
People with Sleep Phase Delay Syndrome (SPS) are often considered night owls. But, unlike those who prefer to stay awake at night, if you have an SES, you do not control the time when you sleep or are awake. You simply cannot fall asleep earlier or get up earlier than your body allows.
Essentially, people with the disorder have problems with their internal time clock or circadian rhythms. (Circadian rhythms are biological characteristics or functions characterized by twenty-four hour cycles). Such people simply turn over; they can force themselves to wake up early to correspond to a typical working day and normal life. But this early wake-up call can cause daytime fatigue and disorientation, as the sleep rhythm of the body and mind is opposite to the sleep rhythm of most people whose circadian rhythms dictate that they sleep at night and stay awake during the day.
If you travel a lot around time zones, you may have experienced the temporary form of SES. This usually disappears after a few days of adapting to a new time zone. For chronic SES, there are some treatments available that can help restore a normal circadian rhythm. These treatments include the use of melatonin and light therapy. Under the guidance of a physician, these procedures can work to help those with SES rebuild their sleep-wake cycles.
There is no certainty whether there is any connection between food and SES. It was once suggested that DSPS may contribute to late night eating. This has not been confirmed or disproved. Again, as with other eating and sleeping disorders, you may have suffered from these other conditions.