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Five Drug-Free Products That Make You Sleep Better
Sleep is important for everyone, but can be especially troublesome for bipolar patients. Learn about products on the market that can help without the use of drugs.
Sleep is something that everyone needs and it’s something that everyone has trouble getting from time to time. If you have a mental illness though, you know that sleep can be a challenge every night of the week. In the case of bipolar disorder this may be because bipolar disorder is, at least partially, a circadian rhythm disorder.
There are ways to improve your sleep though. Good sleep hygiene denotes our habits and rituals around sleep that can improve the quality and quantity of our sleep. And while we can change our habits—like no TV in the bedroom and always going to bed at the same time each night—sometimes we need a little additional help to make our sleep the best it can be.
Here are five products that can improve anyone’s sleep.
Light is nature’s way of telling us it’s time to get up in the morning and this is true even through your eyelids. Moreover, artificial light (the kind seen at night) is the worst kind of light in terms of waking up your brain. Even seeing a nightlight’s worth of light can throw off the natural sleep pattern. A sleep mask is an easy, inexpensive way to solve this problem.
Like light, sound tells us it’s time to wake up and many of us don’t live in a soundproof environment. While it can take a bit of time to get used to, earplugs can help many people sleep better.
As light wakes you up, it’s a good idea to control that light in the morning to provide the most natural pattern for waking up. A dawn simulator does this. A dawn simulator is like an alarm clock but it uses a gradual increase in light rather than sound to wake you up. About half an hour before your designated wake up time, it begins to light your room. This way the gradual light (sunrise) wakes you naturally from your sleep. (Most also come with a sound alarm/music that goes on in case the light doesn’t fully wake you.) (Many are available on Amazon.)
Typically used for seasonal effective disorder (SAD), a sun lamp is just that—an artificial sun (but without the damaging ultraviolet rays). Using a sun lamp in the morning to wake up your brain can improve wakefulness in the morning and create a routine that teaches your body when to wake and when to sleep; it might even improve your mood. (Note, there is the risk of mania when using light therapy in bipolar disorder so make sure to check with your doctor first.) The officially-researched SAD lamp can be found here.
It’s very important to avoid blue spectrum light in the evening as that’s what tells your brain it’s time to wake up. By eliminating this type of light at night, you can help natural melatonin production and help “teach” your body to sleep. But this means turning off artificial light sources like lights and TVs and most people aren’t willing to do that. Luckily, there are blue-wavelength blocking glasses you can wear. They are inexpensive and available through Amazon here and here.
Each product may require a small change in routine, but that change can result in better sleep every night – without drugs – and isn’t that worth it?