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Delayed sleep phase disorder occurs when there is a delay in the major sleep episode relative to the desired clock time. As a result, the person has a hard time falling asleep and getting up at a normal time. Often people with this problem will use sleeping pills or alcohol to try and get to sleep sooner but this rarely works. Alcohol usually makes the problem worse. It is still unclear to what degree both genetic and environmental factors impact on the development of this disorder but both are most likely involved. People with this disorder may experience depressed mood and have great difficulty functioning at school or work. A delayed sleep phase occurs when people are habitually going to bed later and getting up later than the desired clock time. (An advanced sleep phase, often seen in the elderly, is the opposite. The bed time and rise times occur earlier in the day than is normative.) People with delayed sleep phase disorder typically go to sleep between 2:00 and 6:00 a.m. Delayed sleep phase disorder may last from months to decades, usually starts in adolescence and rarely starts after age 30. A typical goal for treatment would be to have a sleep schedule with a sleep period of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
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