Delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD) is a delay in the normal sleep-wake nighttime patterns.
DSPD is an uncontrollable and common sleeping issue in young adults and teenagers. It is sometimes referred to as delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). It causes a shift in the normal sleep patterns by two or more hours (falling asleep at 11 pm instead of 9 pm) Children with DSPD are often referred to as night owls. As children age and have earlier waking times, the continual disruption in sleep patterns can impact their health or mental well-being.
DSPD doesn’t typically impact the quality of sleep once children and adolescents fall asleep – they will rest with no or only a few interruptions. Children will also typically sleep a normal restful night when they are allowed to sleep as long as they wish (holidays, weekends or vacations) and not experience daytime sleepiness.
The main symptom of DSPD is the time delay that causes adolescents (age 10 to 19) to fall asleep two or more hours later than average teenagers.
The exact cause of DSPD is unknown. Experts believe it may be linked to an overreaction to typical sleep shifts (natural internal clock changes) that occur after puberty. DSPD can be genetic (passed down through generations), which means parents or siblings may also experience DSPD symptoms.