Updated at: 21-02-2022 - By: Jane Brody

If your sleep patterns have been disrupted for more than two weeks and are affecting your daily activities, there may be something more serious going on. When it comes to sleep issues, there are numerous possible culprits. Bipolar disease and sleep are linked in numerous ways, and here’s what you can do to improve your slumber.

How Bipolar Disorder Affects Sleep

There are several ways that bipolar disorder might impair one’s sleep. As an example, it could lead to:

  • incapacity to sleep or to sleep for a long enough period of time to feel rested is known as insomnia (resulting in feeling tired the next day).
  • Bipolar disorder sufferers are more likely to suffer from hypersomnia (oversleeping) than insomnia during periods of sadness.
  • Unlike insomnia, a person suffering from sleep deprivation doesn’t wake up the next day feeling drowsy.
  • Insomnia and daytime sleepiness can occur from a circadian-rhythm sleep problem known as Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome.
  • Rapid eye movement sleep abnormalities, which can lead to vivid or odd dreams. REM sleep disorders
  • Sleep-wake patterns that are out of whack because of a lifestyle that incorporates a lot of nighttime activity.
  • Bipolar disorder may be exacerbated by the presence of co-occurring chemical addictions.
  • Up to a third of persons with bipolar disorder have co-occurring sleep apnea, which can make them drowsy and tired during the day and impair their ability to concentrate.

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You can go days without sleep and not feel exhausted the next day if you’re experiencing the highs of bipolar disorder (mania). Three-quarters of bipolar disorder sufferers report that sleep disturbances are the most reliable indicator of an impending manic episode. Some persons with bipolar disorder may experience manic or hypomanic episodes as a result of sleep deprivation or jet lag. People with bipolar disorder may not miss sleep as much as other people do when it is scarce. Even if you appear to be able to get by on so little sleep, sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on your health. You could, for instance:

  • Be prone to mood swings.
  • You’re feeling ill, depressed, or anxious.
  • Is it difficult for you to focus or make decisions?
  • Have a higher chance of dying in a tragic accident.

People with bipolar disorder often have trouble sleeping, as you may already be aware. However, sleep may still be disrupted by bipolar disorder even in the absence of a full-blown episode. It is possible that you already know the answer:

  • Anxiety has risen sharply.
  • Fear of not getting a good night’s sleep
  • Daytime sluggishness.
  • a proclivity towards erroneous assumptions about sleep

Get Better Sleep With Bipolar Disorder

Disrupted sleep can exacerbate an already existing mental illness. Talk to your doctor about all the possible reasons that could be interfering with your sleep. Keep a sleep diary to see if that helps you. The following is required:

  • How much time does it take to fall asleep?
  • How many times a night do you wake up?
  • How many hours a night do you sleep?
  • When you take medication or drink alcohol, coffee, or nicotine
  • How often and for how long do you work out?

As a side effect of some bipolar drugs, sleep may be disrupted. They may, for example, interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. As an option, you might gradually move your sleeping and waking time later in the day until you achieve your objective. Bright light therapy in the morning and the administration of the hormone melatonin at night, as well as avoiding bright light or over-stimulating activity before bedtime, are other options for dealing with this issue. Exercising in front of a screen, such as a TV, phone, or computer, is one option. Your doctor may, of course, recommend that you switch to a different drug if necessary. It’s a good idea to bring up any additional medications or medical issues that might be interfering with your sleep, such as migraines or a back injury. It can be helpful to get back to a regular routine of daily activities and sleep, potentially with the support of cognitive behavioral therapy. Sleep may be restored by following these steps:

  • Reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume towards the end of the day.
  • The bedroom should be as quiet and dark as possible, and the temperature should be neither too hot nor too cold. If necessary, use sleep aids such as fans, heaters, shades, earplugs, or sleep masks.
  • Snoring or other sleep habits that are interfering with your rest should be discussed with your partner.
  • Don’t overdo it on the physical activity, however.
  • Make use of relaxation techniques such as visualization and deep breathing.
  • Disconnect your TV, laptop, and/or phone sooner if you can.

Creating a schedule

You may find it beneficial to establish a consistent bedtime and wake-up schedule. Everyone can benefit from developing this practice, but those with bipolar disorder may find it particularly effective in managing their mood swings.

Optimizing your bedroom

Making the bedroom as pleasant as possible is an important part of good sleep hygiene. The appropriate kind of bed and pillows, as well as the absence of light, noise, and other disturbances, can all help.

Limiting activities

The bedroom is meant to be a place where one can go to sleep. Don’t use your bedroom as a place to do other things like watch TV or work on your laptop!

Diet and exercise

Getting a better night’s sleep may be as simple as avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the hours leading up to bedtime. Maintaining a reasonable amount of time between workout and bedtime is also recommended. While working out can help you sleep better, it can also have an invigorating effect, making it more difficult to drift off to sleep.

Taking time to relax

Before you go to sleep, take some time to relax. Begin the night by taking a relaxing bath, reading an enjoyable book, or meditating.

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Sleep as a Precipitant of Mania with Bipolar Disorder

Short nights can trigger manic and hypomanic episodes, which may surprise you. Reduced sleep isn’t just a side effect of mania.

People with bipolar disorder who have had a manic episode have been reported to have suffered a social rhythm disturbance previous to the episode. Even something as easy as staying up late to watch television or get caught up in a fascinating internet chat can cause disruptions to one’s sleep/wake cycle, as can the inability to sleep as a result of worrying about a close family member’s health or death.

Dr. Ellen Frank, who has examined these issues extensively, says that patients with bipolar disorder appear to have more delicate internal clock processes.

Could Sleep Disorders Actually Lead to Bipolar Disorder?

Bright artificial light may be a contributing factor to the growth in the prevalence of bipolar disorder, according to some researchers. The sun once regulated the majority of people’s sleep/wake cycles. People who have a genetic predisposition to bipolar illness are now more prone to develop the ailment because of artificial light.

The relationship between sleep disruptions and changes in the white matter microstructure of the brain in patients with bipolar disorder has not been demonstrated to be causal.

Benefits Of Sleep Aids

It is possible to treat bipolar illness by taking some drugs for a short period of time. Addiction risk is minimized by using these only for a short period of time. You can also experiment with natural sleep aids. It’s best to consult with your doctor before taking any kind of sleep medication.

Side Effects Of Sleep Aids

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are also available for the purpose of promoting sleep. There are certain hazards associated with using sleep aids:

  • They’re highly habit-forming. It’s essential to keep things in order.
  • In addition to impairing coordination, they can also induce drowsiness and amnesia.
  • These medicines may also create violent or hostile behavior in some people.
  • Alcohol and other depressants of the central nervous system should not be mixed with sleep aids.

9 Tips to Help Sleep With Bipolar

Clocking in and out of bed at the same time each day helps people suffering from bipolar disorder. Practicing good “sleep hygiene” choices is an affordable and natural method to avoid mania and sadness. Changing one’s sleep habits isn’t always simple in today’s fast-paced world, but it’s important to remember that even a few of the suggestions shown below can help you cut down on the amount of medication you require and help you avoid mood swings.

You need to decide whether or not you’re really trying to improve your sleep or if you’re just interested in discussing it.

The only way to see substantial changes in your life is if you’re ready to make some sacrifices. When you have bipolar disorder, obtaining enough sleep at the same time every night can be life-changing. Even if this isn’t fun or fair, it’s essential. Rapid cycling is characterized as more than four mood changes per year for those who suffer from it.

Decide what’s causing your sleep problems.

Many people associate bipolar disorder with sleep disorders, however this isn’t always the case. To establish if there is a physical cause for your sleep problems, undertake an overnight sleep study. Menopause, being overweight (something I struggle with), fluctuating levels of testosterone as we age, and physical discomfort can all disrupt sleep.

3/ Recognize the link between sleep deprivation and manic-depressive episodes.

Bipolar disorder mimics a sleep disturbance in many ways. Consider how manic or depressive episodes alter your sleep patterns, causing you to wake up earlier than usual, overthinking things, or making you feel as if your body is nailed to a brick wall. Bipolar disorder can be effectively managed by controlling one’s sleep. “Regulated sleep is nature’s finest medicine,” says Julie Foster, my nurse practitioner at Pohala Clinic in Portland, Oregon.

4/ Learn about melatonin, serotonin, and your body’s internal clock.

When melatonin is released at night and serotonin surges in the morning, the body has a 24-hour clock. Taking melatonin 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime is recommended by Dr. John Preston, the co-author of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder. Serotonin and mania are linked. Bipolar patients are advised against using a light box in the morning to enhance serotonin or taking SSRIs without first taking medication to prevent mood swings.

Go to bed at the same time each day that you woke up.

Sleeping in time with your circadian clock is based on this theory. You can use 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. as a guideline for your sleep schedule. Saying no to things you might really want to do is a necessary part of this process, and it’s not easy. Try it for a month to see how it works.

Check any supplements and over-the-counter medications to see whether they have an adverse effect on your ability to sleep.

Over-the-counter sleep remedies that contain compounds like 5HTP (a serotonin precursor supplement that might cause mania) are alarming. Checking “natural” sleep aids for anything that could worsen our sleep should be done by everyone with bipolar disorder. For example, valerian causes nightmares in me. When compared to a “normal” brain, your bipolar brain does not handle drugs the same way.

Get the facts on caffeine.

Due to bipolar depression, we often feel exhausted. When we are feeling low, energy drinks might help improve our spirits. Stimulant drugs like caffeine are what they sound like. It interferes with the ability to get a good night’s sleep. Caffeine might exacerbate restlessness brought on by bipolar disorder. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, Dr. Preston recommends no more than 250 mg of caffeine before 2 p.m. And if that doesn’t work, it’s time to stop drinking caffeine-containing beverages altogether and switch to herbal or decaf teas.

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Avoid night shifts, shift jobs, and any other type of work that requires a constantly shifting schedule.

No matter how hard you try, you may not always have complete control over your schedule, but you should know that studies on sleep and bipolar often come to the same conclusion: people with bipolar disorder should avoid working nights and sleeping during the day, or changing their schedule frequently. According to Dr. Preston, these sleep disturbances are the second most common cause of manic episodes after substance addiction.

9/Before ingesting cannabis to go asleep, do some research on the drug.

People with bipolar disorder may experience an increased risk of psychosis when exposed to hallucinogenic cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). You should steer clear of THC if you need to get some shuteye. For many patients with bipolar disorder, pure cannabidiol (CBD) is an option; however, it relaxes the body while igniting the intellect. When I’m under the influence of any form of cannabis, my brain is like a racehorse.

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