Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleep and Bipolar Disorder

Posted by Keith J Meyers on Jan 27, 2022 2:21:00 AM

Illustration of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder, in general, is a type of chronic mental and psychological health condition that is often characterized as both severe, mild, or mixed manic or hypomanic periods or depressive episodes. Furthermore, this disorder term is often misunderstood by most people. The major cause or trigger of bipolar disorder is ‘sleep’. The extreme ups and downs of episodes are often accompanied by erratic sleep habits. Though the serious cause of the bipolar disorder is still not clear, the lack of sleep or sleep disturbance is one of the main triggers. Of course, many other things also contribute to this disorder but a disturbance in the sleep cycle has a major impact on the brain and mental health. Since bipolar disorder is a kind of chronic and relapsing illness. Therefore, timely good treatment is a must.

Here is some detailed insight to know about the interaction between sleep and bipolar disorder:

How and on what basis bipolar disorder affects sleep?

Sleep changes, in fact, are so not an unusual place that they are taken into consideration as the early warning symptoms that a bipolar episode is at the manner and that extra clinical attention may be needed. Sleep deprivation or even lack of sleep can be the major cause of bipolar disorder but the opposite is also true. Bipolar disorder or manic and hypomanic episodes disturbed the sleep cycles in a lot of ways.

Insomnia: Insomnia typically means the inability to fall asleep. During the bipolar disorder, an individual has trouble falling or staying asleep. It becomes chronic after a while.

Hypersomnia means oversleeping, which is relatively more common due to sudden and repetitive depressive episodes.

Sleep deprivation, delayed sleep phase syndrome, or even irregular sleep schedules disturb the brain cells which also leads to other potential and chronic problems. While delayed sleep phase syndrome is generally a circadian rhythmic disturbance associated with depression and anxiety issues.

Nightmares or lack of quality sleep: Nightmares or lucid dreams may also affect sleep quality and bipolar disorder. As a whole, both quantity and quality matter in the case of sleep.

Another not much well-known term is there, called ‘Social rhythm disruption’ which is a disturbance in routine. It can be due to many reasons including social media surfing, sleeping late at night.

In some cases, medications also somehow affect sleep or the quality of sleep. For example, antidepressants result in hypersomnia, an individual sleeping more than the requirement. Thus, getting proper quality and mindful sleep is one of the biggest hurdles that people going through bipolar disorder may face.

Could sleep disorders actually lead to bipolar disorder?

As said before, the single serious trigger and cause of bipolar disorder aren’t clear yet. But scientists believe that sleep/wake-up cycles have a direct influence on brain and mental health which is more likely to cause bipolar disorder if the situation isn’t maintained at the right time. Also, there are many different sources of information related to medical news online one can easily look up to.

Ways to get better sleep with bipolar disorder

Additionally, just like how sleep disturbances due to bipolar disorder need to be addressed, the typical reasons behind such disturbed sleeping patterns need to be addressed as well, as they play an important part as well. According to Erik Pham, CEO at HealthCanal, making sedentary lifestyle changes and being consistent with them can help to combat sleep disturbances and also improve the quality of sleep.

Below are some effective and simple steps to restore sleep and improve its quality:

  • Sleep at the right time and wake up early at the same time every day.
  • Also, avoid taking day or afternoon naps.
  • Avoid heavy meals at the time of dinner.
  • Eliminate caffeine consumption and alcohol abuse
  • Try mindful meditation and visualization to relax and refresh your mind.
  • Lastly, more importantly, the individual or the close ones should try to avoid all sorts of digital devices and social media at least 1-2 hours before going to bed.

This disorder seems challenging and requires lifelong management. Though bipolar disorder treatment is possible through medication, therapy, and physical and mental exercise. One should keep in mind that frequent changes in sleep patterns that last for more than 2-3 weeks are most likely to cause disturbance in mental health and overall wellbeing. When an individual is short on sleep it takes a toll on mental health. If any individual suspects sleep disturbances or lack of quality during sleep or other symptoms for that matter should consult a good doctor or psychiatrist. It's better to have timely treatment as living with such bipolar disorders is very challenging.

With sleeping and mental health problems being one of the most widespread issues in our society, we can safely say that both of them require more attention. Their effects can quickly diminish the life quality of every person who suffers from them. Moreover, they can cause one another, making themselves even more disruptive in the process. It is a massive threat to the overall health and wellness of every person.

Fortunately, our knowledge about these issues is constantly growing. Nowadays, every individual who suffers from sleeping or psychiatric disorders can address their problems by exploring various treatment options. Hopefully, we will have better ways to combat these issues or eliminate them in the future.

Impaired sleep can seriously affect your quality of life and productivity. Behavioral changes implemented under the guidance of an experienced clinician can improve sleep quality and help you feel more alert and functional on a regular basis. Sleep is a third of your life – make it count!

Alaska Sleep Clinic is the most comprehensive multisite sleep lab in Alaska with clinics in Anchorage, Wasilla, Fairbanks, and Soldotna and we continue to expand our services to those with sleep disorders. Angie Randazzo, Ph.D., is a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with expertise in sleep disorders. No other CBT sleep specialist provides care in the state of Alaska. She is available to Alaska Sleep Clinic’s patients via telemedicine, through SleepTM.

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Topics: sleep habits, mental, prevention, bipolar disorder, mental health

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