Bipolar and Sleep: Getting Rest With Bipolar
Sleep is an incredibly important aspect of your life. The right amount of sleep leaves you refreshed and rejuvenated physically. Too much or too little sleep will leave you foggy, disconnected sluggish. Where your physical health goes, your mental health follows.
Bipolar and sleep often don’t go together; when bipolar disorder is a part of your life, your sleep suffers. Sleep disturbance is actually one of the cornerstones of bipolar disorder.
When your mood is more depressed, you will have less energy and less motivation. You are prone to sleeping more throughout the day, including frequent naps. Some people with depression will get 14-16 hours of sleep daily and still feel tired and lethargic. Others suffer from insomnia related to depression and are unable to sleep more than a few hours daily.
When your mood is elevated from a manic episode, sleep is the last thing on your mind. You are too driven by other pleasure-seeking tasks to consider getting rest. Why sleep when you could refold your towels or count how many toothpicks you have? Even if you try to lay down when manic, your racing thoughts may not slow down enough to allow you to sleep. Combine this with the diminished patience associated with mania and sleep is not in the forecast.
You’re already aware of the impact of both bipolar and sleep. So what can you do about your bipolar and sleep problems? In this article, I will offer some advice to help you turn those sleepless nights or oversleeping moments into healthy sleeping patterns. First, we’ll begin with the benefits of sleep and then go in-depth with some bipolar and sleep tips.
What Are the Benefits of Sleep for People Living With Bipolar?
If you have given up on the idea of getting good rest, rethink it. The benefits of appropriate rest extend to numerous aspects of your mental health, physical health, and overall well-being. Benefits of sleep include:
- Improved memory and attention – Have your been forgetful at work or home? Sleep helps strengthen memories and skills learned during the day.
- Longer life – Studies show that people who sleep too much or too little tend to have shorter lifespans than those that receive the desired amount of sleep.
- Healthier weight – People that are well rested tend to have healthier weights. People that get less sleep tend to feel hungrier.
- Lower stress – Sleep allows your mind and body the rest it needs to reduce stress. Lower stress is related to many physical health benefits like lower blood pressure.
Track your State
Bipolar is unpredictable. Sometimes you will be depressed for a month, manic for two weeks and then depressed for the next three months. Maybe your symptoms shift more rapidly, or maybe your mania or hypomania only present yearly.
Whatever the case, tracking your bipolar symptoms is essential. Rather than thinking of it as one mental illness, think about bipolar as two: depression and mania. The tools and interventions effective for depression are usually not useful for mania, and the measures to improve sleep during mania will not help much during depression.
Set aside time to evaluate your symptoms. How do you know when you are depressed? How do you know when you are manic? What about when symptoms are calm? Think about how your mood, energy levels, motivations, irritability, socialization and behavior changes throughout the course of your symptoms. Being able to accurately monitor and identify your state allows you to choose a course of action that is fine-tuned for your symptoms.
Find a way to track your symptoms that allows people in your life as well as yourself to clearly label your moods. A journal, chart, thermometer and color system are all effective tools. Experiment to find the tracking system that is best for you.