Time for sleep Q&A with Dr. Lisa Shives, our sleep expert! We gather questions from our Facebook page, and they’re answered by Dr. Shives. In this installment, Dr. Lisa answers a question from someone who needs a shift in her sleep schedule…
Sonia asks: My night is my day and my day is my night. I sleep every night at 3 a.m. if not later even with Ambien. But I wake up also between 12 and 1 p.m. So is that ok too? My husband is not pleased with my habit but I can not do anything about it except medicate me more.
Dr. Lisa says: You are describing delayed sleep phase syndrome, which is a fancy name for being a night owl. There is mounting evidence that humans are indeed meant to sleep during the darkness of night and be awake in the daytime. People who stay up all or most of the night have an increased risk of certain cancers, obesity and mood disorders, not to mention the fact that unless you are a bartender or blues musician, it wreaks havoc on you social life and employment opportunities. Medication is not the solution. A trained sleep professional, either an MD or PhD, is often necessary to assist the person in shifting the bedtime to an earlier hour. The one caveat is that you have to REALLY want to make this change and once you are shifted, you have to stick to the new routine.
Dr. Shives works with SleepBetter.org to provide a medical view of sleep issues. She is one of only a few practitioners with a fellowship in Sleep Medicine in addition to board certification by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.