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Ok, considering the company here I'm sure there are quite a few of you who have had some experience with sleep disorders. Situations like this can be hard to diagnose and usually require a very lengthy sleep analysis process that most of us can't afford to undergo since it is very involved, very expensive and quite lengthy to undertake, meaning we'd have to put our lives on hold and that's usually not a welcome thing to do in our industry. These situations can also be harmful to our careers, health and lives and I figured maybe some stories and solutions can be shared by all to help make our lives a bit better.

Personally, I finally realized after many years of trial and error I have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder what's known as DSPS - Delayed Sleep-Phase Syndrome which basically means I'm nocturnal by nature aka a "Night Owl". I can function as a "normal" human being with no sleep issues, except that my hours are shifted to be an alternate from the normal expectancies of society. It's not necessarily a matter of choice to be in this situation (as I like mornings very much). It's also a lifelong condition with no known treatment.

Since my early teenage years I've tried to figure out why I can never fall asleep before 2/4am and being a very deep sleeper, often require additional assistance other than an alarm to wake up if I have to wake before my body's internal clock says it's natural to do so. I've tried shifting my schedule, sleep aids and so on. Nothing has ever had a lasting effect on me (or other DSPSer's). The only time I've ever found a normal pattern is when I was working 5pm-1am while teaching Audio Post at a University that operates 24/7 for a few years. It allowed me to go to bed around 3-5am and wake up around Noon-1pm and everything worked great until they started shifting schedules around constantly which caused me severe insomnia which eventually broke down into other similar sleep disorders.

I can work normal hours, but what happens is that I become an insomniac by sleeping only 1-2 hours a night and binge sleeping when I can in order to accommodate a "normal" 9-5 schedule. Besides affecting performance, the human body can only take this for so long before you develop symptoms of SWSD - Shift Work Sleep Disorder, Non-24 and even certain traits of Narcolepsy by falling asleep without knowing it and not being able to wake according to normal practices, shifting/drifting sleep patterns and so on. This eventually bites all us DSPSer's in the ass and everyone thinks it's a lifestyle choice and something we have control over. Unfortunately we struggle to accommodate the rest of the world for seemingly our entire lives and it's quite difficult, especially when everyone things you can do something about it.

Ironically enough, since any known treatment never lasts longer than a few months to a year (this is widespread for people with DSPS) the only known way to deal with this is to find employment that suits these hours. Luckily, the entertainment industry partially falls in that category. My only issue is that if I want to be employed (other than self employed/freelance) in the Audio Post sector (which I prefer) typical M-F 9-5 business hours with a lot of late night deadline crunches being the norm.

So, I find myself self employed/freelance trying to create opportunities for myself in this industry during times of a rather slow economic depression and it's going much slower than I wish/need it to be and need to figure out some different solutions. Personally, I'm not much of a business fan. I'd rather show up to work and the boss says "I need this done by X time" and I go off into my studio and do my job, never having to worry about contracts, billing/finance or drumming up new business. It's just not my strong suit.

Anyone have any suggestions, experiences or anecdotes?

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try a Vipassana course. it is truly an amazing experience that can heal people of things. It's a 10 day meditation course called Vipassana. –  Chris Feb 23 '11 at 6:31
    
Sent you an e-mail. –  Utopia Feb 23 '11 at 6:37
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@Syndicate Oh I didn't know about this DSPS stuff. I have been nocturnal since years... I feel I am more active at night as I can concentrate better without having to worry about day time distractions. I also worked graveyard shift as a sound designer/mixer at a Television Network which had Five channels and to design sound and mix for on-air promos would require lot of creative and attention space. It worked fine.. I didn't mind it but I also had to travel 3 hours in crowded train daily home-work-home. After around 9 months of this routine, I started having some side-effects as my body felt tired which started reflecting in my creativity and work in general.

Luckily by that time, I had gotten an offer to study Masters programme in the UK, so I quit my job at the right time before it could get worse. Conclusion is... even though I am nocturnal by nature, daily routine of day-time sleeping and night-time working pattern will affect your body and mind eventually. I still haven't figured out the way to tackle this.. as I am writing this post early morning after having stayed awake whole night and working on some projects..haha.. but atleast it is not a daily routine now.

@Chris I have attended the 10-day Vipassana course some years ago... one of the best experiences ever. Though I do not practice it these days... needs dedication.

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