Night owl support

I really hate mornings. Like many people with ADHD, I am sure I have Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder or DSPD. It’s genetically linked to ADHD, according to Wikipedia:

“by findings of polymorphism in genes in common between those apparently involved in ADHD and those involved in the circadian rhythm and a high proportion of DSPD among those with ADHD”.

DSPD is a disorder of the body’s biological clock. Sufferers of DSPD may have a too long circadian cycle, a reduced response to daylight on their body clock, and/or are too affected by artificial evening light. Experimental work cited in Sleep: Physiology, Investigations, and Medicine points at melatonin issues: “the percentage of melatonin suppression by a bright light stimulus … has been reported to be greater in 15 DSPD patients than in 15 controls.”

DSPD people don’t fall asleep before usual sleep-time even when very tired. Normal folks can catch up by falling asleep early. I have always had problems shifting to a later and later sleep-time. I say sleep-time because there really is little connection between the time I go to bed and the time I go to sleep. They may be separated by seconds or hours, it depends. It seems that sleep deprivation does not reset the circadian clock of DSPD patients, as it usually does.

So we don’t produce enough melatonin hormone at night to make us feel sleepy and not enough cortisol hormone in the morning to wake us up. Melatonin can be bought over the internet from the USA, as it’s available over the counter, in the UK you must have a prescription. It works but for many the initial sleep effects lessen over time. There are a variety of herbal teas that have gentle relaxant and sleep inducing effects like Valerian and Chamomile. Do what you can to combat stress, like meditation but if you issue is in your body-clock consider sunshine.

The chemistry of sunshine

Normal lights do not help with wakefulness as the light spectrum is wrong and do not mirror sunlight’s beneficial effects. Sunrise or wake-up lights gradually increase in brightness, to simulate dawn and produce a similar light to sunshine.

These lights can help make several hormonal changes to induce better sleep. The morning light they produce can support achieving a normal morning cortisol peak, which then supports a healthy cortisol response throughout the entire day. You should wake more easily.

Light also controls your melatonin levels which should be lowest in the morning and highest at night. Studies show that dawn stimulation lights in the morning help melatonin balance throughout the rest of the day. Since all hormones are intricately linked, better balanced cortisol and melatonin means better overall hormone balance too.

A final bonus is to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder, as dawn light therapy has proven an effective treatment for that too. I do not own this specific dawn light as the one I use is an older model, but this is the top reviewed model on Amazon right now, it’s expensive but what is a good night’s sleep worth?

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