What is Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome?
Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (ASP) is a disorder characterized by an abnormally early sleep onset and an abnormally early wakeup, combined with a preference for going to sleep and waking up repeatedly, often reported as 2-3 hours before traditional wake-up times. It is normally associated with elderly people and is often a side effect of aging. The most common symptoms of ASP are difficulty staying awake during the day, waking up too early and being unable to go back to sleep, feeling overly sleepy during the evening, and having difficulty sleeping in the middle of the night. Advanced Sleep phase Syndrome can interfere with social and occupational activities, such as going to bed at the same time as the rest of the family and dealing with early morning work commitments that start before the sufferer is ready to get up.
Symptoms of Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome
The symptoms of Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome include going to sleep early, usually within 2-3 hours after sunset, and waking up early, usually within a couple of hours before sunrise. Other symptoms include trouble staying asleep or feeling overly tired during the morning, feeling excessively alert and energetic in the evening, and feeling impatient or irritable when not able to sleep at the desired time. Sufferers may complain of feeling tired and grumpy during the day and may find it difficult to concentrate and stay alert.
What Causes Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome
The exact cause of advanced sleep phase syndrome is unknown, however it has been suggested that it may be related to changes in melatonin production as people age, with the body’s natural biorhythms shifting to an earlier time of day. Additionally, it may be related to irregular light exposure, as sunlight exposure in the evening can disrupt the circadian rhythm, and prolonged exposure to artificial light at night can lead to circadian desynchronization.
Treatment for Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome
Treatment for Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome is focused on delaying a person’s sleep and wake cycles, so that they can function better with the social and occupational demands of a normal life. To do this, the person should go to bed and wake up at regular times every day, even on weekends and during vacations. Additionally, exposure to bright light, usually soon after waking up, is often recommended, and avoiding light exposure during the evening and being careful about avoiding high sugar and caffeine intake in the late afternoon and evening are important. Finally, if the condition persists, use of medication at nighttime may be prescribed.
Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome can greatly impact a person’s quality of life and overall health due to the disruption in a person’s daily routines. However, the condition is treatable and with proper management, those suffering from ASP can lead a healthy, happy life.