What can I do to fall asleep and wake up better?

This question was asked in Greenville, Pennsylvania on 10/02/2012.
I have a hard time falling asleep, no matter when I go to bed, I just lie there tossing and turning for about 2 hours. That's a problem yes, but the real problem is I am very hard to wake even after 4-6- 8-9hrs. If no one wakes me I could sleep for 12 - 14 hours a night for days and have in the past. No matter how much sleep I get I am always tired, but have the most energy late at night. I even tried working midnights thinking my body was made for 3rd shift, but that didn't work either. I only wake at most 2 times a night, and go right back to sleep, but usually I do not wake at all. I have been like this for as long as I can recall and I am now 27.

Doctors Answers (2)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 10/10/2012

You have what we call a "delayed phase syndrome". This is a normal in teenagers but by the age of 27 years you should have the ability to go to sleep and arise at "normal" hours. It is not too uncommon for persons to continue this delayed phase into adulthood but if it does not a fit for your family life or work schedule then you will need to work to correct the problem. You will best be treated by a board certified sleep doctor and possibly with a therapist to support your efforts. You will likely need a combination of medication to induce sleep and to promote wakefulness plus light therapy to trick your brain to thinking it is daytime. Without going into detail, you will need bright light directed toward your eyes at 7 AM or whenever you wish to arise. This light begins to change your circadian rhythm even if your eyes are closed. It takes time. You must arise at 7 AM although it may be easier to gradually arise at say, 11 AM for a few days, then 10 AM, etc. An overnight sleep study will be helpful to determine if you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder to account for your daytime fatigue. A Multiple Sleep Latency Test will be helpful to assist in the diagnosis of narcolepsy. The sleep doctor will explain what these tests mean. Quality of life and safety are major issues which should be addressed. There is treatment for your disorder.

Marjorie Yong, M.D.
Answered on: 10/3/2012

That is not a normal pattern. There is probably something wrong with your sleep, and you need to be evaluated right away. If you have access to a sleep laboratory, please make sure to have an overnight test so that you can be observed and evaluated overnight.