Sleep may be the single most important component in a bipolar disorder patient’s treatment plan. Without it, all other remedies are ineffective. Even those without bipolar disorder are capable of having hallucinations when extremely sleep deprived.
Take into account that the circadian rhythms of individuals living with bipolar are already disrupted, & well, we have a big ‘ol recipe for mania. As sleep deprivation is one of mania’s biggest triggers.
Sleep disturbances have adverse effects on quality of life; including impairment in daytime functioning, cognitive functioning, & motivation. But most importantly, it contributes to relapse of bipolar symptoms. Also note that sleep disturbances can act as a warning signal for the onset of hypomania or mania.
Bipolar disorder is thought to be a circadian rhythm disorder. When those of us with bipolar disorder alter our sleep/wake cycles, we further disrupt our circadian rhythms. The more severe the disruption, the more severe the consequences & the longer it takes to regain a state of stability. Our sensitive circadian rhythms make it more difficult for us to recover from disruptions in sleep & routine.
Personal experience & what prompted me to write this:
Because my circadian rhythm is currently so out of sync, I’m struggling to get on a “normal” sleep/wake schedule. Rarely do I get to bed before 3:00 am., sometimes even 5:00 am. And wow, I feel the effects. Eventually it catches up to me. Getting out of bed is a struggle, if I make it out at all. It becomes hard to concentrate. Eventually I become depressed & awake with crushing anxiety.
The solution sounds simple, right? Just go to bed at a decent time. But for someone with bipolar disorder it’s not as easy as it seems. Even when I wake-up early I feel as though I don’t really wake-up until everyone else is crashing. I desperately want to become a morning person but doing so will literally be going against nature. I intend on doing it though, as difficult as it will be. I know it will improve my overall wellbeing & my mental health. I considered turning it into some type of challenge that some of us could do together, for accountability reasons. But I think my ego is getting the better of me. . . I think this is something I should be able to accomplish on my own. So I did a little research & found the helpful tips below. . .
Bipolar Disorder and Sleep
» Establish a Healthy Evening/Bedtime Routine «
» Limit caffeine intake. Completely cut-off caffeine intake after a certain time of day. Definitely no caffeine in the evenings. Easy to say, so hard to do. At least for me, the coffee addict.
» Go to bed at the same time every night & wake at the same time every morning. Most important is to wake at the same time every morning. And then work towards the goal of getting to bed at the same time each night. Starting out, as long as it’s a decent time & it’s close to the same time every night, I’ll take it.
» Prepare your sleeping space ahead of time. Make sure it’s comfy, not too hot or too cold. I would begin with the National Sleep Foundation’s suggestion for optimal sleep temperature, which is around 65 degrees, & then experiment from there.
» Electronics have no place in the bedroom. This one’s hard. T.V.s, laptops, & cell-phones zap quality of sleep. Get rid of any little bit of added light. Ideally, the bed is to be used for only sleep & sex.
» Keep a notepad & pen next to your bed. Every evening, & as needed, jot down anything that’s worrying you or anything you’re afraid you might forget. This has proven extremely helpful to my daughter who battles anxiety. It was suggested by her therapist & it works! You can lay your worries aside, at least until the morning, without the fear of forgetting anything.
» Build enjoyable & peaceful activities into your evening routine. By routinely doing the same or similar activities every evening, it tells our minds & bodies that it’s time to start calming down.
How’s your sleep/wake schedule working for you?
Do you feel like your circadian rhythm is in sync?
Have any helpful tips on bipolar disorder and sleep?