For non-coincidental reasons, I have been reading about Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome tonight. The terms used to describe it are certainly most familiar:
People with DSPS tend to be extreme night owls. They feel most alert and say they function best and are most creative in the evening and at night. DSPS patients cannot simply force themselves to sleep early. They may toss and turn for hours in bed.
By the time DSPS patients seek medical help, they usually have tried many times to change their sleeping schedule. Failed tactics to sleep at earlier times may include relaxation techniques, early bedtimes, hypnosis, alcohol, sleeping pills, dull reading, and home remedies. DSPS patients who have tried using sedatives at night often report that the medication makes them feel tired or relaxed, but that it fails to induce sleep. They often have asked family members to help wake them in the morning, or they have used several alarm clocks.
I have certainly tried shifting my sleep schedule through a whole day more times that I care to recollect. Apparently, some doctors even prescribe Modafinil – the most wondrous of the wonder drugs – as a treatment for DSPS. This Calvin and Hobbes strip captures the situation quite well.
At least sleeplessness leaves me with plenty of time to read. I would be willing to venture that a big part of reaching the place I occupy today was played countless nights in elementary school spent reading until the (horribly annoying) sound of birds chirping in the morning became audible. Already, I am more than 1/3 of the way through My Name is Red and making good progress on this week’s Economist.
I am not sure whether it is comforting or not to read that: “Some DSPS-friendly careers include computer programming, work in theatre, the media, freelance writing, and taxi or truck driving.”
PS. As well as contributing to the above, Facebook and instant message programs have taught me a great deal about which of my friends are almost certainly up and looking at a computer screen at 4:00am. Wikipedia says that well under 1% of people in general have DSPS. Among my friends, I would guess that the figure is at least ten to twenty times that.