Delayed Sleep Phase

Last Updated: February 19, 2019

Definition - What does Delayed Sleep Phase mean?

Delayed sleep phase (DSP), also called delayed sleep/wake phase, is a sleep disorder where individuals experience sleep/wake patterns that do not coincide with an otherwise traditional sleep schedule. DSP does not generally influence the duration and quality of sleep, but the nature of its condition can incur personal drawbacks and social stigmas that can compromise career opportunities. Because DSP can cause cognitive and physical limitations, many people may struggle to finish duties and tasks during early peak hours, undercutting efficiency and productivity in a business.

WorkplaceTesting explains Delayed Sleep Phase

Delayed sleep phase affects a small percentage of the population, in particular, individuals who are prone to late night activities (night owls). For many employees with DSP, their sleeping patterns conflict with regular business hours, leading to issues with punctuality and meeting deadlines. As a result, individuals are likely to encounter social biases grounded on illegitimate claims of ineligibility or poor work ethic.

Medical evidence suggests that biorhythms in a person with DSP operate on a different cycle outside the norm, but finding employers to accommodate their needs is a challenge. Individuals may need to consult a doctor to ascertain if delayed sleep phase or a different sleep disorder is the source for their abnormal sleep patterns. A sleep technologist conducts a polysomnogram to examine biofeedback in diagnosing delayed sleep phase disorder coupled with remedial care alternatives including melatonin supplements, light therapy, and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).

Delayed sleep phase can have serious health implications including anxiety, depression and heart disease, posing liability risks where sleep deprivation is a growing concern for employers. However, many companies are introducing business models that allow flexible work schedules since medical findings conclude that people with DSP display better efficiency and productivity under this structure.

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