Sleep

Adequate sleep is considered one of the three major physical necessities of overall good health. The others are a nutritious diet and regular exercise.

Having good overall health can only help someone who is dealing with a chronic illness, especially one like bipolar disorder, which can drastically change someone's sleep patterns.

How Sleep Fits In

Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the biggest challenges that bipolar people face. Manic people can go on little or no sleep for lengthy periods, while people in the grips of bipolar depression might have trouble either getting too much sleep or not sleeping at all.

Going without sleep, either intentionally or accidentally, can even kick someone into a manic episode.

Figuring out how to get the right amount of sleep can be a big part of managing bipolar disorder.

How Does It Work

There are several ways a person with bipolar disorder can attempt to get regular sleep without resorting to more medication—of which they could already be taking a great deal. These methods, overall, are known as sleep hygiene.

One step is establishing a regular time to go to sleep at night and to wake up in the morning. Establishing this routine gives a person with bipolar guidance that can help them keep on track with their attempts to sleep properly.

Having such patterns with sleeping and other daily functions has also been shown to help keep moods in check.

Another goal is ensuring that the bedroom, as much as possible, is a place only for sleep. Limit other activities in the bedroom.

Sleep hygiene also entails making the bedroom as comfortable as possible, from having the right kind of bed and pillows to suit your tastes, to eliminating light, noise and other distractions.

Try to limit alcohol and caffeine use before bedtime. Both can make it harder to get restful sleep.

It is also a good idea to keep a few hours between exercise and bedtime. A workout can make it easier to sleep, but also has energizing effects that can make it hard to sleep if the two events are too close together.

Otherwise, try to start winding down before bedtime. Take a warm bath, do some pleasure reading or something else that will help you relax before sleep.

If these fail, drugs like benzodiazepines can be used for short periods of time to help a bipolar person get to sleep. These are used short-term to minimize the risk of addiction.

Who Can Take It

Getting enough sleep is a good idea for everybody, and most of the methods for exercising good sleep hygiene are easy for anyone to practice.

When it comes to the sleep aids, it is best to talk to your doctor before trying to use them.

Side Effects

There are few if any side effects to getting enough sleep.

However, if sleep aids are necessary, there are risks involved:

  • They can be very addictive, and their use must be carefully managed to avoid this.
  • They can have an adverse affect on coordination, cause sleepiness and amnesia.
  • In some cases, these drugs can also cause hostile and aggressive behavior.
  • They should not be combined with alcohol or other substances that inhibit the central nervous system.

Availability

Practicing sleep hygiene is something readily accessible to everyone, while drugs used as sleep aids are usually available with the help of your physician.

Highlights

Proper sleep on a regular basis is a cornerstone of good health.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is one of the bigger challenges bipolar people face.

Having a sleep schedule and a bedroom optimized for sleeping can help a bipolar person or anyone else get the proper amount of sleep.

What The Expert Says

“Proper sleep hygiene is IMPERATIVE,” Dr. Soroya Bacchus, a psychiatrist who practices in California, said. “Sleep hygiene is not only taught, but is considered mandatory. Inadequate sleep precipitates mania, and oversleeping can be a sign of bipolar depression.”