Located in the brain, the SCN controls the production of melatonin. During the day, when there is light outside, melatonin levels remain low. Later in the day, as it begins to darken, our body produces more melatonin, with peak levels between 2 and 4 a.m. Long naps during the day can interfere with nighttime sleep.
Limit naps to no more than an hour and avoid taking naps at the end of the day. Some people simply can't sleep during the day or have trouble sleeping in places other than their own beds, something that sometimes requires taking a nap. Nowadays, it seems that productivity has been misnamed as a virtue, and how little you sleep is almost a badge of honor. Bertisch recommends asking your doctor if your medication might be the culprit and if there is a different time of day to take it or another medication that doesn't interfere with sleep.
Doing relaxing activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or using relaxation techniques, may promote better sleep. Because you can't fall asleep until very late, you'll want to sleep much later the next day, perhaps until early in the afternoon. The amount of calories you burn has to do with several factors, including your weight, your metabolism, and how much you sleep each night. If you have DSWPD, melatonin production starts and ends much later, making bedtime much later.
Many factors can interfere with a good night's sleep, from work stress and family responsibilities to illness. Your family doctor may be able to see if you can change your sleep and wake times with melatonin at night and light exposure in the morning. However, if you work nights, you may need to take a nap late in the day before work to help offset your sleep debt. Your body contains an internal clock that regulates when you wake up and when you go to sleep (see Body Watch for more information).
The specialist will suggest changes to your sleep routine to maintain regular sleep, usually after asking you to keep a sleep diary for a week or two. Meir Kryger, MD, a sleep disorder expert at Yale Medicine, says that being tired during the day and having energy during the night is usually caused by circadian rhythm abnormalities, explaining that it means a person's body clock slows and they have a burst of energy at night. For some people, even a few nights in a row can change the time of their body clock, making it difficult to sleep and wake up at an earlier time. This causes a mismatch between when you think you should go to sleep and when you can go to sleep.
Even if you wake up early, at night your body will only want to go to sleep late at night. Change your lifestyle if you think it's interfering with your sleep or talk to your doctor about ways to better treat or possibly research underlying diseases.