Sleeping with the Enemy: Mom’s N-24

How N-24 affects the rest of us
With a special take on the topic from Guest Blogger TinkerToy

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Comorbidities and Sleep & Sleep Disorders Series

“When you hear hoof-beats,
think horses not Zebras”

Most doctors are repeatedly exposed to that little ditty from their earliest days in Med School, encouraging them to always consider the simplest explanations first.

It’s not bad advice for many of the disorders and diseases they’ll come across in the patients who will walk through their office doors seeking diagnosis and treatment.

It just turns out to be exactly wrong when it comes to recognizing chronorhythm disorders – disorders of sleep TIMING.

November 24th is N24 Awareness Day

As explained in last weeks post, N-24 Awareness Day is almost upon us:

N24 Awareness Day was first organized in 2012 to help raise awareness of chronorhythm disorders – those affecting sleep TIMING – and particularly to increase awareness of one of its lesser known manifestations: Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome.

It is also known as hypernychthemeral syndrome, N24, N-24, or free-running sleep disorder.

It is a severe, chronic and disabling neurological disorder that causes an individual’s “brain clock” to be unable to stay in sync with “nature’s clock,” the 24-hour cycle of light and dark on our planet.

For many years it was believed to be rarer than those of us who live with it know it to be, and to affect only the blind – supposedly the only individuals unable to “rephase to light.” SIGHTED sufferers were excluded from the studies, and are still today.

How can medical science expect to find what they fail to seek?

N24 Awareness Day – or N24 Day – is now observed annually, gathering participants as increasingly more people become aware of sleep timing disorders, recognizing their own sleep-struggles when they read about the symptoms.

Many have been MIS-diagnosed with insomnia, narcolepsy, or “simple” sleep apnea, because MOST doctors, therapists and coaches remain shamefully unaware — unable to recognize clear symptoms of an entire class of sleep disorders: those that are the result of chronorhythm dysregulation.

Somebody tell me WHY

I have personally been banging this drum since I included sleep timing disorders when I designed the curriculum for the world’s first ADD/EFD-specific coach training back in 1994, when I founded The Optimal Functioning Institute™ — 22 years ago already!

I also sponsored a FREE, global tele-session with speaker Su Laine Yeo, one of the world’s very first chronorhythm disorders advocates.

A sufferer herself, Sue Laine shared her articles on the GeoCities site, generously crediting the National Science Foundation Center for Biological Timing for its Biological Timing Tutorial — at a time when her information was about ALL you could find on chronorhythm disorders [often-used practically verbatim today and rarely attributed] .

It’s way past time for everybody to WAKE UP and smell the coffee!

This year’s theme: The Many Faces of N24

On N24 day, people with N24 are encouraged to write about living with N24 or create other forms of art and communication about the lived experience of N24 (videos, paintings, music, audio recordings, etc.).

These can take the form of personal stories, scientific essays, awareness essays, poetry and other symbolic expressions and more.”

 from the N-24 Awareness Day site

SO THIS YEAR, my blogging Shih Tzu TinkerToy is letting everybody know what it’s like to have to live with N-24 – from his doggy point of view.

After all, even more than most “sleep-normal” humans who live with somebody who has one of the chronorhythm disorders, Tink is forced to accommodate a sleep-destabilized schedule not of his brain’s making, so he might as well be diagnostic himself.

Even though his may well be the only fur-face represented, he believes that two-legged supporters will find helpful information that might increase their understanding of what’s going on.

If not . . . well at least they’ll find some validation of their own struggles as the result of someone else’s N-24.

They also serve, who only stand and wait
(for some snoozing somebody to wake up so they can go outside!)

Take it away, Tink!

Remember that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

HOVER before clicking – often a box will appear to tell you what to expect

A Furry 1st-person Report of Life with a Sleep TIMING Disorder
Guest Blogger: TinkerToy

My mom works the night shift – at home

She told me that when she lived in New York, she worked as an actor, mostly in theatres for many years – where everybody had to work the night shift. So most of the two-legs believed that she slept all morning only because of her job.

For most of that time, she says she thought that too.

She swears she had no idea why getting up early seemed so much harder for her than anybody else.

  • She also never stopped to wonder why she was always ready to party all night when her friends wanted to go home because they were getting sleepy.
  • So she says she cleaned and cooked and did most of her other chores until she finally got sleepy — about the time the sun came back.
  • As long as she didn’t have to be anywhere until it went away again, hardly anybody knew that there were days when she slept away most of the sunshine.  And the ones who did know never really understood why she “insisted” on keeping such strange hours.

Then things got screwier

According to her, once she decided she needed to get “a real job,” she tried working in an office a couple of times, but it never worked for the other two-legs. They were always mad at her for getting there later than she was supposed to be there.

She doesn’t mean just a little bit late, either — really REALLY late!

She says it’s because she sleeps through practically every alarm ever invented. I can vouch for that one, I’ve watched her do it.

Her alarm is REALLY loud too.
It shakes the bed and blinks the lights and everything.

I’ve watched her snooze away just the same as when everything is quiet.  I have to tell you that it is is VERY annoying to anybody waiting to go outside and is the only one who seems to hear all that commotion inside.

Some days I can wake her up with puppy-kisses. But sometimes even that doesn’t get her to open her eyes (something about sleep cycles, according to her — but not the kind you can ride).

If you want to understand what kind she means read
Health, Success and Successful Sleeping
it has some kind of table about Brain-Waves
(different from the table with the food or the water kind of waves)

She told me once that sometimes she was already a whole HOUR late before she even opened her eyes and called to let them know she was running late. She’s very smart and I know she works harder than anybody, and swears that she always stayed at that office for longer than she was late, which is prob’ly why nobody ever actually fired her. But she was always in trouble.

The other office two-legs thought that she thought that she was above the law – or the rules – or whatever those two-legs believed she could do if she’d “get to bed at a decent hour.”

She tried going to bed earlier.  She still tries sometimes.

She can make herself get in bed, but she can’t make herself fall asleep –
even when I’m too sleepy myself to try to get her to play with me.

I asked her to explain it once and this is what she said:

Tink, you still don’t always “lie-down” on command. 
What if I suddenly told you to “lie down and fall asleep”
— just because it worked better for MY schedule?

I have to admit, she has a pretty good point there.
I keep trying and I still can’t do it.  Can YOU?

My cousin Bandit, now waiting for us on Rainbow Bridge, demonstrating “lie down and sleep”

But still, N-24 makes life rough on ME

  • The other dogs tell me they always get to go outside before noon. I never do – which makes for a pretty miserable first walk when it’s hot outside. Some days the sky is all red and it’s starting to get dark out before it cools down enough to play frisbee – and that’s my very favorite game.

And she never takes me to the park if it’s already getting dark when she wakes up, even when it’s not hot outside.

  • On days when she sleeps a really long time, I have to use that pee-pee pad — inside the house!  I don’t like it much, but I can only cross my legs for so long.
  • Most nights, by the time she finishes pounding the computer keyboard and takes me to see my fan club (down the street at my Cheers bar where everybody knows my name), a lot of my best fans are already on their way out the door.

Only a few of the very best hang out with us for very long after both of the sticks on that round thing on the wall point straight up, which is usually about the time I can finally get her going.

Even if I cut my walking time in half and drag her in the door the first time we pass by, it’s not long before the man who makes the drinks behind that wooden wall we can see over tells us we all have to go home.

  • We go there for my fans, by the way.  Mom and I hardly ever drink the same things as most of the two-legs who go there, but it’s practically the only place where we can play with somebody who kinda’ sorta’ keeps Mom’s hours.

Except for Uncle Jason (who comes sometimes in the afternoon to mess with our computer), and sometimes two-legs who bang on the door saying some “office” sent them to fix drips and things, only Aunt Peggy ever comes to the house or invites us to hers.

She has ADD like Mom, so their brains are a lot alike in a whole bunch of ways. I’m not surprised that they keep the same hours — sometimes anyway.  But most of the time it’s just the two of us.

We have to share one single solitary computer, so I usually can’t even have some fun amusing myself by writing another blog post while she hogs the keyboard.

I can’t even connect much at all with Ray or Bacon or Danny or Noodle or Ani or Oscar, or any of my new fur and feather blog-buddies — not even the blogging hamsta’ dudes, and I’m dying to find out what they have to say about the election results.

I do have a lot of toys but it can still get pretty boring at times – and lonely.

  • There have been many nights when I wondered if she was gonna’ to go to bed at all! I can’t always stay awake with her for cuddle-time – even when she carries me because I’m too sleepy to even walk on my own four legs.

Do you know how weird it is to be carried to bed when the sun is already shining through the windows?  (It’s even weirder that we sometimes go to bed when it’s dark out – and to never know when she’s likely to call it a night in the dark or after the sun comes back).

  • And can we talk about FOOD?  Yeah, I can always resort to those dry little chunks she leaves out for me if I ever get really hungry. But I like the food she fixes for me when she wakes up a whole lot better — the kind she keeps in that tall white closet in the kitchen, where she keeps other great stuff I love, like little pieces of bacon and eggs and cheese. I can’t get to any of those by myself.

Anything beats starving to death, I guess, but it’s so boring to eat the same thing all the time – especially those blasted health-food chunks she pours from that big bag she keeps in the other closet with some of the boxes and cans.  You’d never catch her eating those chunks!

Sometimes she even runs completely out of my good food because she’s not awake in time to make it to the place she goes to get our food while it’s still open.  The pet store where she gets the actually good healthy treats locks her out even earlier.  Sheesh!

  • And how would YOU like to have to wait hours for somebody’s eyes to open for a drink of fresh water from a clean bowl — one you hadn’t already been dipping your furry little face in while she slept?

Don’t get me wrong

There are a lot of wonderful things to love about living with my Mom.  But having to put up with her sleep disorder is definitely NOT one of them!

Feel free to leave a link to your own problems with N24 in the comment section.

Oh yeah, and Happy Thanksgiving America

That’s tomorrow too this year. Great timing!

When you are running through all your “thankfuls” while you are chowing down on turkey and pumpkin pie, if you are one of those lucky “sleep-normal” two-legs, be SURE to be especially thankful for that! (and don’t forget that your 4-legged friends would REALLY give thanks for some of that turkey)

© 2016, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)


Keep scrolling down to the Related Content for links to some great info
from Mom about sleep and sleep disorders.

As always, if you want notification of new articles in this Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, do stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with Mom? If you’d like some coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series (one-on-one couples or group), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end (or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page). Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to her; you can schedule a call to talk about what you need. She’ll get back to you ASAP (heavy accent on the “P”ossible!)

You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.

For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —

Related articles right here on

A Few LinkLists by Category (to articles here on

Earlier N-24 Day Posts from others

Feel free to leave a link to your own N24 post down there in the comment section
and Mom will add it to my article.

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, Mom revisits blog content periodically to update links. She says that when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, she wants me to warn you that you run a high risk of getting replaced by an article written by a blogger with what she calls “a more generous come-from.”

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

77 Responses to Sleeping with the Enemy: Mom’s N-24

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  2. milliethom says:

    A wonderfully informative and well written article, Madelyn. I’m a year late in reading it as I’m following up your comments on one of my November 2017 posts. I knew you suffered from sleep problems from discussions we had ages ago, but I didn’t know exactly what yours entailed until reading this.

    It’s amazing how many people suffer from sleep disorders, but this one sounds particularly difficult to live with – coping with the world of work and ‘normal’ daytime hours, especially. I truly admire the way you do cope, as well as the great work you do in informing and helping others.

    My problems are mild beside yours and (I think) are simply the product of an over-active brain that refuses to cut out. I was prescribed sleeping tablets many years ago, but found cutting them out so difficult that I’d never even consider them again.

    Old age hasn’t improved matters, either, with frequent visits to the loo. Fortunately, tiredness during the daytime is not such a problem since I retired. I can, and often do, nod off in the afternoon – generally just for a few minutes (a power nap, as they say).

    I’ll be sure to read your 2017 post about N24.

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. Amazing sleep article. When I was in the Army I was up 5 am every day and that habit continued for years until I began going through menopause then sleep was a distant memory. I noticed that since menopause or maybe post-menopause because my periods stopped when I was 52 and I’m now 57 my sleep habits are really off!! Insomnia has been my “friend” for years. My cat Sylvester is nocturnal and so am I.

    Recently I moved from the day shift at work to the 4:30 pm to 12:30 am Midnight shift hoping to get better sleep. Same company just a different location. Still not sure this is working however I am enjoying working at nights and I have some wonderful co-workers. I’m enjoying my new duties and still try to catch up on sleep during my weekends which are now Fridays/Saturdays.

    Just for the record Please Never take Ambien!! I tried that for many years, wound up sleep walking and finally stopped taking it in 2012 after spending a few hours outside at night in the Feb cold in my pajamas. Lucky for me I did not get attacked!! Word to the Wise!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG! To my knowledge I have never walked in my sleep, but I have been told more than a few times that I talk at times. With the exception of diphenhydramine’s “do not take and drive” drowsy side effects [in allergy pills like Benadryl], I have never taken medication to induce asleep – not only has it been reported to worsen chronorhythm destabilization, but the possibility of being addicted and not able to fall asleep without them really frightened me.

      On reading your “catch up on sleep” comment, I want to point you to another article Owls, Larks and Camels. To the extent that you are able, the best thing you can do to smooth out the sleep roller coaster is to do your best to stabilize the times you sleep – WHENEVER they turn out to be. I promise you that the longer you remain destabilized, the more likely it is that you will have to live destabilized forever.

      Thank you SO much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment (especially since you liked the article lol).

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Grandtrines says:

    Reblogged this on Grand Dreams and commented:
    Sigh. I am the “poster child” for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’ll have to share that “honor” – lol. How long have you realized that your symptoms indicated a type of sleep disorder? Does your family get it?

      Mine never really did – and FORGET about people who want my patootie up and out at hours the morning nazis prefer. I actually began researching for documentation – but those who refuse to understand or believe are horrendous boundary pushers (as if asking THEM to show up somewhere at 5 or 6 AM instead of 4AM would be much help – grrrr).

      The part that is rudely annoying (and damaging) is knowing how easily sleep structure can be destabilized for weeks by a single “just this once – it’s important” — since I don’t wake reliably to sound, I must pull an all-nighter to make *sure* I am awake for their “important” thing.

      Awakening particularly grouchy today, I am wondering if one has to be neurodiverse to experience empathy for others. I swear that the neurotypical crowd seems to lead lives on the narcissistic side of the continuum – “should”-focused based on what they personally can and cannot do!!

      I see that you have reblogged this more than one blog, so I am going to approve the other, and jump over to your blogs to let you know how much appreciate it – but FIRST I think I need to down another cup of coffee to wake up and lose the grouchies. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Grandtrines says:

        My family has never understood and likely never will. The “difference” showed itself VERY young (single digits). It has never resolved; it has been mis-diagnosed many times. In the last few years it has become so “pronounced” that I have considered going on disability though I am well-educated and well-trained. Finding suitable “asynchronous” work has been, essentially, impossible. I have not quite given up, yet, but am close. Maybe my destiny is to be on disability and spend my days blogging and writing without any hope of seeing compensation for my efforts. It stinks.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Grandtrines says:

    Reblogged this on Still Another Writer's Blog and commented:
    Sigh. I am the “poster child” for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow, this was enlightening,Tink. While I suffer from bouts of insomnia periodically, it is nothing compared to what your mum experiences. Thank you for sharing and thank you for swinging by the “Ranch.” We 💗 visitors.

    Liked by 1 person

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  21. Wendy says:

    My sleep gets a bit out of wack, but not as bad as yours. Well not now anyway. It’s been bad before, but I don’t sleep so deep, ever. That’s a hard thing for me I wake up a LOT. I “sleep” 10 or 11 hours, but I wake every hour, so I don’t actually sleep that much.

    Some times I sleep a bit better. If I have help.
    I do try to have more “normal” hours, so I can spend time with hubby.

    I’m sure Kiki is glad Stuart feeds and let’s her out in the morning. She’d have a long wait for me.
    Happy Thanksgiving my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JUST found this Wendy – sorry it’s been languishing. I can relate to disruptions in sleep since my bladder now wakes me several times each night, but I practically sleep-walk there and back to bed, so I don’t think it causes me the trouble it does for you. 😦

      I hope you and your clan had a VERY happy Thanksgiving, and that you were able to spend it in glowing health.

      Tink hopes you shared a bit of your Thanksgiving meal with Kiki (and reminds you that dogs love leftovers too!)


      • Wendy says:

        Kiki thanks Tink for reminding me. She says that she didn’t get enough leftovers. We had a very small celebration just us, as usual. No big family to-do for us.
        I hope you enjoyed the day.
        Would a light box help get your rhythm on track? I’m sure not, but thought I’d ask.
        I’m sorry you have to go through this.
        Your favorite holiday is coming. 🙂


        • I joined a small celebration with my friend Peggy, her ex and new partner, and the mother of Peggy’s daughters best friend. It was lovely – and SO nice not to be alone as I gave thanks.

          I DID use a light box until it died, unfortunately. But it didn’t make NEARLY enough of a difference to work a replacement into my budget.

          AND . . . my big [artificial] Christmas tree and two of the garlands are already UP! 🙂 Jingle, jingle.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Wendy says:

            I asked about the light because Stuart uses one for SADD. Seems to work well for him, or so he thinks.
            I was afraid it wouldn’t work for you.
            Your thanksgiving sounds lovely. Much more festive than mine. 🙂
            I know your house will be much more jolly too! I love how much you love the holiday. Warms my heart.
            Love to you.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Depends on your definition of jolly, I guess. If I had a Stuart, my house would be REALLY jolly!

              Liked by 1 person

            • Wendy says:

              Aww. It’s always jolly in that way. But the “season” brings out the scrooge in him. I doubt I’ll see a store until after new year. He’s a grump this time of year. I’m miss merry sunshine. It doesn’t always mix. Especially when miss merry can’t go anywhere alone.
              No worries though. I understand his ways. He tolerates mine and watches Christmas movies. 🙂
              I was wondering, about your sleep. Do you sleep longer or just off cycle?


            • Longer until things stabilize – mostly off-cycle (relative to you earthlings). 🙂

              Thanks for the reminder – it’s time to add the Christmas Movies to my Hulu list (and to get out my huge collection of Christmas music!)


  22. Oh the hamster dudes are being very quiet re the election results because you see their aim is world domination by hamster dudes. Yes. And when they succeed no-one will have anything to worry about….. x

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Piglove says:

    Now I have to say this is interesting and mom can relate to a lot of this. She has some sleeping difficulties to say the least. But me and my bro Houdini, we have our own room. So when it’s bedtime, we go to bed and shut our door. Our sleep pattern is not interrupted, unlike mom who sometimes roams the halls like a ghostly figure. But listen little Tink – you are always welcomed in our crib and we will let you use one of our computers ❤ XOXO – Bacon
    P.S. Give your mom some huge hogs and snout kisses on this article – it was great!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. adeleulnais says:

    wow, this is fascinating reading. I think my wife might suffer from this. Thank you for bringing attention to this. I will look more into the links you gave and follow them up.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I can very well understand why your Mummy doesn’t want to walk through the park at night to take you for a walk. Tink you look very well looked after and obviously adore your Mummy even with her odd hours. She is so kind helping others who suffer and trying to find the best treatments. You never know, one day your Mummy might find a cure and then it’ll be sunshine walks in the moornings

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Lucy Brazier says:

    Hey there, TinkerToy! What a gorgeous little chap you are! And I can see you are doing a very good job of looking after your lovely mom, even if her sleep disorder is tough on you too. Thank you for helping us understand more about this condition – it is one I am sure most people are unaware of and probably blame on laziness or some such thing. Now we all have a greater appreciation of the struggles of others. You are doing great work, TinkerToy! And a very happy Thanksgiving to you and your mom, and all your loved ones. Big hugs from across the pond.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Sue Vincent says:

    Mine keeps weird hours too, Tink… but not that weird! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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