Keeping a Regular Sleep Cycle with Schizoaffective Disorder

Thursday, September 20 2018 Elizabeth Caudy

For years, I lost a regular sleep cycle due to schizoaffective disorder and medication. Learn how I got a regular sleep cycle back on track at HealthyPlace.

Having a regular sleep cycle is important, but for years after I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia and then schizoaffective disorder, my sleep cycle became completely reversed. I was up all night and asleep all day. It wasn't until a little over four years ago--just before I started writing for HealthyPlace--that I got a regular sleep cycle back in place so that I'm awake during the day and asleep at night. What a relief. Here's how I did it.

Schizoaffective Disorder and Reversal of a Regular Sleep Cycle

First of all, how did my regular sleep cycle become reversed to begin with? Part of it was the antipsychotic medication I was taking for my schizoaffective disorder. But a big part of it was that I was depressed over my diagnosis and I was depressed that I was leaving the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) because I felt that, what with my diagnosis, I needed to be closer to my home in the Chicago suburbs.

Let me briefly explain my decision to leave RISD even though doing so made me depressed. I had my first psychotic break at RISD. I was scaring people there by talking back to the radio as if the radio was communicating with me personally. I constantly thought people were following me. Even though it was exciting there as a student, it became scary. And it was scary being so far from home when I was so vulnerable.

Once I realized I'd been delusional and was hearing voices, I transferred to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). I felt safer there, and even though it didn't seem as glamorous as RISD, it was a much better fit for me and just as fine an art school. But I didn't realize that yet when I started sleeping all day.

However, as I mentioned, another major component to me sleeping all day was the antipsychotic medication I was taking for my schizoaffective disorder. It knocked the heart right out of me and then staying up all night got to be a habit.

I switched around antipsychotic medications a lot--a painful experience. And then I switched to one that had the rare side effect of causing symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder for some people--myself included. I had been on the medication for years before this happened, but when it did, I switched back to the antipsychotic I had been on when I was first diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.

Schizoaffective Disorder and Getting Back to a Regular Sleep Cycle

Well, a miracle happened. Somehow, this time, switching antipsychotics kicked my sleep cycle back to normal--at long last. I tried hard to stay up as well. It was a painful transition--I didn't sleep for days and nights in a row. But, when it settled down, I was sleeping at night and waking up early in the morning. And I continue to do that to this day.

I have to remain vigilant--sticking to a schedule and assigning myself walks, small meals, and reading times during the day. But it works.

In my video, I talk more about the things I do every day to keep my sleep cycle on track.

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

View all posts by Elizabeth Caudy.

Keeping a Regular Sleep Cycle with Schizoaffective Disorder

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