Is it possible to readjust my sleep schedule?

All my life I've been having an odd sleeping pattern. I'd usually only get sleepy at 4 a.m. and then sleep until 2 p.m. This made it very difficult to go to school and work, but I cannot fall asleep at any other time. Is it possible to adjust my sleep schedule in order to make me fall asleep at more normal hours? If so, how would I do this?

Doctors Answers (2)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 12/23/2013

Sleeping from 4AM until 2 PM is what we call a "delayed phase syndrome". The opposite would be the "Advanced Phase Syndrome" when a person would sleep from 9 PM and arise at 4AM. The good news is that you can adjust your sleep schedule to the time of your choice. The bad news is that it is not easy and will take a lot of your time and effort. It entails using light exposure, alarms and often medication. Any board certified sleep specialist should be able to help you.

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 11/4/2013

Yes, but it will require a time period for adjustment and diligence on your part. You could start by adjusting your bedtime in 30 minute intervals nightly until you have achieved the desired bedtime. Follow the following sleep hygiene tips: 1. Reserve your bed and bedroom for sleep. When you get in bed, turn off the lights immediately and try to go to sleep (i.e. do not read or watch t.v.). If you have trouble falling asleep, go to another room until you feel sleepy enough to try again. Occupy yourself with some non-exciting activity in the meantime. Get your body into the habit of sleeping when you go to bed rather than being engaged in some activity (i.e. thinking, reading) that competes with sleep. 2. Prepare your sleeping environment to produce minimum distraction. Pay attention to light, noise, temperature, mattress, pillow, bedclothes, and sleeping garments. 3. Establish and keep to regular bedtime and arising time. Do not change your schedule on weekends. At the very least, maintain a regular arising time, even if you had trouble sleeping the night before. In time, it should become easier to fall asleep at a regular time. 4. Attempt to systematically determine what your optimal sleep amount is, and then work toward obtaining that amount of sleep each night. Sleeping too much may aggravate your sleep problem the next night. It is better in the long run to sleep a bit too little than to sleep too much. 5. Exercise regularly and in moderate amounts early in the day. 6. Investigate whether a cup of warm milk before bed helps you sleep better. 7. Look for and practice any other activities that will help your body develop a regular and normal sleep schedule. Don'ts: 1. Avoid reading, watching t.v., using laptop, IPad or texting on your bed or bedroom. 2. Avoid sleeping environments that are distracting or uncomfortable. 3.Avoid irregular bedtimes and arising times and variations in amount of sleep. 4. Avoid taking naps during the day or evening. 5. Avoid exercise in the late afternoon or evening. 6. Avoid exciting or stimulating activities in the evening. 7. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soft drinks, cocoa, etc.) in the later afternoon hours or evening. 8. Avoid eating heavy or spicy food, especially in the evening. 9. Avoid late meals and large quantities of liquids. 10. Avoid going to bed hungry. 11. Avoid immoderate use of alcohol. 12. Avoid any other activities that seem to aggravate your sleep problem.