I have been miserable for a good few weeks now, owing to the severe lack of daylight. This has not been helped by the fact my sleep patterns have completely inverted and I have been falling asleep around 7 am (!) and mostly unable to get out of bed before 5 pm (!!). The problem is that having Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, the usual techniques for restoring a normal sleep-wake cycle don't work.
Methods that work for normal people:
1) Go to bed early so you'll wake up early. Ahahahaaa! If I had the ability to fall asleep AT WILL, I wouldn't have a sleep disorder now, would I?
2) Set your alarm for the time you are supposed to get up, and get up then no matter how rotten you feel. Setting my alarm early wakes me up in that I stop being unconscious, but I won't be rested enough to get out of bed. If I somehow drag myself up anyway, then I'll be tired and irritable for the entire day, and start feeling sleepy earlier, as intended. However, this won't translate into falling asleep any earlier. I can go to bed absolutely exhausted and still be awake 4 hours later, until the time when my body has predetermined that it will fall asleep. Yay. If I try to do this for several days/nights running, then I end up severely underslept and my immune system crashes. Back when I used to try to work at normal hours, I would have a cold every couple of weeks.
3) Stay up all night and go to bed at a sensible time the next day. Doesn't work for me, because staying up for 18-24 hours means that I then have to sleep for 15-18 hours, and I end up on the same or worse messed-up cycle that I had before.
The only method that works for people with DSPS is chronotherapy, where you move your sleep-wake cycle forward, rather than backwards as in the methods above. Unfortunately, this means going through a bunch of *really* inconvenient and depressing days, with total phase reversal like getting up at 8 pm and going to bed at 9 am. I really don't want to be doing that, so I've spent the past couple of weeks trying method 2 plus occasional sleeping pills, even though I know it's unlikely to work. Gah.
Through application of SCIENCE to the problem, I've discovered that it's not just my sleep-wake cycle but other circadian rhythms that get messed up. The reason why I can't wake up too much earlier is because my body temperature is too low. Usually, it's spot on 37.0 °C while I'm awake, but “too early” it can be as low as 36.3 °C. Okay, that doesn't sound like much of a difference – but we are homiothermic and our body temperature does only vary within a degree or so. If I am ill and have a mild fever of only 37.5°C, my brain feels “fried” and it takes serious effort for me to think. Clearly my brain is highly sensitive to temperature changes.
I need to get a) a lamp so I can have the abnormally bright “blue” lightbulb above my eyes in the mornings without it also being the main light source in the bedroom (as it bothered EVERYONE else who came to the house while it was installed, and is way too stimulating for me at night time), and b) some yellow ski goggles (research has shown that people with DSPS and bipolar II may be oversensitive to blue light, so should wear yellow filters when watching TV or using a computer in the evenings to avoid the light keeping them awake). This requires a) motivation and b) going into a ski shop. I'm not sure how this is to be achieved, considering that motivation requires... oooh, getting enough sleep and hours of sunlight.