For two decades, I suffered from “insomnia” I believed was my fault - under the assumption I was too undisciplined, anxious or lazy to sleep on a “normal” schedule. FINALLY, in my late twenties, I was diagnosed with Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD).
Suffering from DSPD causes multiple challenges: you feel tired and unrested during the day, which has serious consequences on all aspects of life (work, school, social). In addition, there is little to no compassion for those who live with DSPD - it's considered the "fault" (lack of discipline, anxiety, etc.) of the afflicted.
Coping with being nocturnal is a diurnal world is tough. Trying to explain that your intractable, genetic condition makes you out of synch with the majority usually gets you nowhere. Having a sleep disorder carries a stigma that does not exist with other health conditions. I have learned the hard way not disclose my condition to co-workers or acquaintances.
Sleep problems have long been considered psychological - not physiological - issues. It is this mindset that I want to change. By sharing my story, I aim to raise awareness and increase understanding of DSPD. Hopefully, in the not-to-distant future, society will become more sympathetic towards those who suffer from DSPD and other circadian rhythm sleep disorders, and that these disorders will be recognized as the serious conditions they are.
More research, which will lead to new therapies, is needed. Also, reasonable accommodations at school, work and medical settings (hospitals, nursing homes) MUST be made available. The first step is to increase the amount of information about circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Currently it is abysmal; even physicians who specialize in sleep medicine are woefully under informed.