Reply To: Teenager with sleep problems


I have had this issue as long as I can remember. My “natural” sleep cycle is to fall asleep around 3-4 AM and wake up around 11-12. I have absolutely no problem going to sleep and getting up on this schedule and I get my best work done in the 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM time-frame. Unfortunately, this sleep schedule is incompatible with the rest of the world.

Going to sleep earlier is a major problem. I’ll just lie in bed with a million thoughts buzzing about in my head until about 3 AM. If forced to get up early, I’m nearly useless until around 11. As you may well imagine, this was a major problem in high school. In college, I did my best to avoid early classes where possible and mostly slept through the few AM courses that I could not avoid. Professionally, I have done fairly well by sticking to jobs which work with this odd schedule — software engineering for the most part.

I’m fairly new to ADHD medications, but I have actually had success with these in shifting to an 11 PM to 7:00 AM sleep schedule. I set an alarm for 1-2 hours before I actually need to get up and take a dose of immediate release Ritalin. After I am up, I take my dose of Concerta 2.5-3 hours after the pre-wakeup dose. With this, I’m actually able to get out bed and get things done in the morning and am quite functional.

There was still the issue of shifting my sleep schedule back. I have found that the “least-bad” way of achieving this is to skip a night of sleep and then go to bed at the target time the following night. If I try to just go to bed earlier, it’s just a waste of time and an exercise in frustration and futility.

I had tried both Melatonin and Clonodine in the past. Both make me feel sleepy, but I don’t actually fall asleep on them, but they do make it more difficult to get up in the morning.