Many of us living with bipolar disorder struggle to sleep well. The fluctuations in energy level and mood can make it feel nearly impossible to maintain healthy sleeping patterns (Bipolar Disorder and Sleep Problems). Making small adjustments to your nighttime routine can help you sleep well with bipolar disorder and decrease your chances of manic episodes.
How Bipolar Disorder Affects Your Sleep
Bipolar disorder can wreak havoc on your body’s internal clock (What’s the Deal with Sleep and Bipolar Disorder?). Your body has a sleep-wake cycle that can get disrupted by changes in mood. It’s not uncommon to sleep excessively during depressive episodes and get little to no sleep at all with mania. Falling asleep and staying asleep once you get there can add to the frustration and reduce the overall quality of sleep. Disruptions are definitely something to keep an eye on. It might be a sign that an episode is on its way.
Tips for Sleeping Well with Bipolar Disorder
Sleeping well with bipolar disorder is a constant battle (The Importance of Sleep in Bipolar Disorder). Try these tips to increase your chances of getting better sleep:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time. Difficult, I know. It will help your body get its rhythm back. Pick a rest and rise time that works for you and your schedule.
- Use your bed only for sleep. This is not the place to watch television, catch up on your emails, cram for your exam or endlessly scroll through social media on your cell phone.
- Make the environment comfortable. Your room should be chilly, quiet and dark. These are optimal sleeping conditions.
- Limit your substances. Caffeine, alcohol and other substances are the last things you need if you’re trying to get yourself into sleep mode. However, if you doctor prescribed medications for bedtime, follow your doctor’s instructions and take them accordingly.
- Try relaxation techniques. Visualization, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are great ways to de-stress and calm your mind and body at bedtime. Try closing your eyes, taking some deep breaths and imagining yourself sleeping peacefully.
- Keep a sleep diary. Tracking your patterns increases awareness and options for success. If you notice in your diary that you exercised two hours before bed and were up most of the night thanks to the energy, moving your workout away from bedtime might be helpful. If meditating for 10 minutes before sleep makes you feel relaxed, incorporate this into your routine.
Every night isn’t going to be perfect. It can be tempting to sleep for 10 to 12 hours after a few days of emotional exhaustion. The key is to be consistent and stick with your routine. Do what helps; drop what hurts.