What is the Relationship Between Bipolar Disorder and Sleep?

Anna T.

Bipolar disorder and sleep abnormalities seem to go hand in hand. People with bipolar disorder typically go through up and down phases all the time, and the phase a person is in can have a direct effect on her sleeping patterns. While in the depressed phase, someone might feel the need to sleep more, possibly for as long as 18 hours in a day. At other times, a bipolar person might be in the manic phase, which typically means that she sleeps very little. The connection between bipolar disorder and sleep abnormalities can make life difficult for anyone with the disorder, because getting the right amount of sleep every night is crucial for a person's state of mind and overall health.

People with bipolar disorder can take steps to regulate their sleep patterns.
People with bipolar disorder can take steps to regulate their sleep patterns.

There are some things a bipolar person can do to help regulate his sleeping patterns. During manic episodes, it is typically considered a good idea to stay away from stimulants, such as caffeine, that might contribute to sleeplessness. When a bipolar person is in the depressed phase, it is usually a good idea for him to avoid alcohol, because it will likely increase fatigue and sleepiness. Alcohol might also emphasize depression symptoms.

A person with bipolar disorder may have difficulty sleeping at times.
A person with bipolar disorder may have difficulty sleeping at times.

If a person is worried about her bipolar disorder and sleep patterns, she may be able to improve her sleeping habits overall with some lifestyle changes in addition to staying away from certain substances. Getting to sleep and waking up at roughly the same time every day can set the body's internal clock. This might make it easier for bipolar people to prevent the disruption of their normal sleeping habits. A person who is in the depressed phase may benefit from exercise to keep herself alert and awake. Relaxation and meditation might also be helpful to do just before bed during manic episodes.

There are additionally other ways of dealing with bipolar disorder and sleep abnormalities. A bipolar person who is struggling with getting either too much or not enough sleep may want to speak with his doctor about the problem. This is particularly the case if he has tried everything to help improve his sleeping habits and nothing seems to help. Doctors can prescribe medications for bipolar people that might help them either get to sleep or stay awake as needed so that they can function normally day to day. The duration of time a person might need to take medication for sleep typically varies depending on the severity and frequency of his sleep disruption.

The manic or hypomanic states associated with bipolar disorder can cause the patient to need little sleep.
The manic or hypomanic states associated with bipolar disorder can cause the patient to need little sleep.

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