Understanding Bipolar Depression
How to Sleep with Bipolar Disorder
Sleep disturbances are common with bipolar disorder.Fortunately, you have options for improving your sleep. Whether you’re having a manic episode or a depressive episode, it’s possible to quiet your mind so that you can sleep. To consistently sleep well, create a sleep routine and stick to it no matter what cycle you are experiencing. If you're struggling to sleep well, seek medical help.
Calming Your Manic Mind
Exercise early in the day.Exercise is a great way to burn off energy and relieve anxiety. However, it can also stimulate you. Don’t exercise in the hours just before you go to bed, as this can boost your energy levels and make it harder to go to sleep.
- Schedule your exercise in the morning or afternoon to get an energy release without stimulating yourself more.
Listen to calming music before bed.Opt for instrumental music or songs with slow, quiet singing. Don’t listen to songs that pump you up, such as dance music.
- Everyone is different, so what stimulates others might be calming to you. Choose the music that works best for you.
Relax your body with breathing exercises.Breathing slowly and counting your breaths can help you go to sleep. If you need extra help, try a breathing exercise:
- Breathe deeply through your nose for 6 counts, then hold the breath for 3 counts. Release the air slowly through your nose for 7-10 counts.
- As you breathe in, imagine that your breath is moving to the top of your head. As you exhale, imagine that it’s going down your spine before it flows out. Repeat for 10 breaths.
Meditate before you go to bed.Meditation can quiet your mind, making it easier to go to sleep. Even a short meditation can help! Sit in a quiet spot and close your eyes. Breathe in and out slowly, and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, gently return your thoughts back to your breath.
- You can also try guided meditations using an app, CD, or video.
Use progressive muscle relaxation to relax your muscles.Sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath and start to relax. Beginning at your toes, imagine that each set of your muscles is tightening and then releasing. Continue working your way up your entire body until each muscle group has been tightened and relaxed.
- If you're having trouble getting started, you can use a guided muscle relaxation, which are available through meditation apps or online.
Do an activity that quiets your mind.You could choose an activity that you find calming, or you could try something that’s boring to you. You may be able to lull yourself to sleep.
- Lie down and count the stars in the sky
- Imagine a herd of sheep and count them
- Watch a documentary or a program that doesn't interest you
- Read a textbook
- Go through the newspaper
Soothing Your Depression
Increase your levels of self-care during depression cycles.Self-care is always important, but you may find you need to be a bit more gentle with yourself during depression cycles. Try to build in more self-care to your daily routine when you are experiencing depression cycles.
- Try activities such as meditation, exercise, or simply adding time for your favorite hobbies into your daily schedule.
Write down anything that’s weighing on your mind.This can be a list of worries, a to-do list for tomorrow, or something else. You can keep a journal, or you could just jot notes down on a piece of scrap paper. Do what works for you!
- Try journaling each night before bed.
- Choose paper over a digital option, as the light from screens can disrupt your sleep patterns.
Check off your to-do list during the day.This will reduce the weight on your mind. Additionally, it’ll give you a feeling of accomplishment before you go to bed.
- Keep your check off list short and manageable. Having too many things on the list can make it feel overwhelming.
- A sample list might include: "Go to work," "Pick up kids," "Make dinner," "Pay bills," and "Schedule doctor’s appointment."
Use positive self-talk.Positive self-talk can help you cope with your down moods. It’s not a magic solution to your problems, but it can help you feel better.Tell yourself nice things in the hours before bed. When negative thoughts strike, rephrase them to make them more positive.
- Tell yourself, “I did my best today, and that’s enough,” "I’m proud of all that I did today,” or “Today was a good day for me. I know that tomorrow will go well, too.”
Count your breaths.All you need to do is be aware of your breaths. Number each breath, but don’t worry about keeping track of them. If you lose count, just start back at one.
- This is an easy, low pressure breathing exercise for times that you’re struggling with depression.
Don’t take naps during the day.Depression can make you feel exhausted all day, but napping may not be worth it. Taking a nap interrupts your sleep cycle by making you feel less tired when it’s time to go to bed.
- If you do have to nap, do so early in the day.
Creating a Nightly Routine
Follow a set sleep schedule.Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, both on weekdays and weekends. This trains your body to know when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. Although it takes time for your body to get used to the schedule, it can help you sleep better long term.
- Sticking to a sleep schedule can help you curb your bipolar symptoms, especially manic episodes, because you’ll be getting enough sleep.
- For example, you could go to bed every night at 10:00 p.m. and wake up at 6:00 a.m. every morning.
Wind down before bedtime.In the hours before your bedtime, follow a routine that helps you wind down. Choose activities that calm you, such as reading, doing a crossword puzzle, knitting, listening to music, or coloring in an adult coloring book. Any activity that doesn’t involve screen time can help you sleep better.
- For example, you might lower the temperature, prepare for the next day, take a warm bath, read a chapter of a book, and go to bed.
- You could also try making a glass of herbal tea or warm milk right before bed. Just be sure to check with your doctor to make sure they won't interact with any medication you're currently taking.
Turn off your screens in the hours before bed.The light from screens can disrupt your sleep or make it harder to sleep. This includes TV, phones, computers, tablets, and handheld gaming devices.
- If you typically relax in front of the TV before bed, transition to another hobby, such as reading or coloring.
Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.This will train your brain to view your bedroom as a relaxing place. If you have a habit of bringing work or other activities into the bedroom, then your brain won’t know to relax.
- Designate other areas of your home as your workspace, such as a desk or the kitchen table.
Create a calm, cozy sleeping environment.The right environment can make it easier to go to sleep. Minimize clutter in your room, and choose calming colors, such as blue or gray.
- Choose a comfortable mattress.
- Adjust the temperature in your room so that it’s cool.
- Reduce light in the room, including light from clocks or electronic devices.
- Quiet any noises or use a fan to block out other sounds.
- Keep TVs out of your bedroom.
Avoid caffeine for 4-6 hours before your bedtime.Caffeine is a stimulant that could make it harder to go to sleep. Unfortunately, it also remains in your system for several hours. You can avoid this by limiting your consumption.
- Don’t drink soda, coffee, or caffeinated tea in the hours before you go to bed.
- Choose caffeine free options, such as water or decaffeinated tea.
Limit your alcohol consumption.Some people think that alcohol makes them feel sleepy. However, it disrupts sleep later in the night, making you restless and resulting in poor sleep. Limit your drinks to 1-2 per day, and don’t drink within 3 hours of your bedtime.
Keep a sleep diary to chart your progress.Write down when you go to bed and wake up, as well as how long it took to go to sleep. Note how often you woke up during the night, and track how you felt in the morning. Do your best to chart your moods each day so that you can compare how you slept to how you felt.
- Note any medication that you took and when you took it.
- Write down any sleep rules that you broke, such as drinking before bed.
- Keep track of your daily exercise.
Seeking Medical Help
See a therapist.A therapist can help you cope with your bipolar symptoms, including your sleep issues. They can help you make positive changes in your life to better manage the disorder. Talk to them about your sleep issues. Follow any recommendations they have to offer.
- Your therapist may be able to identify lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your sleep.
Take your medication as prescribed.When your medication is working, it may seem unnecessary. However, stopping it could cause your moods to fluctuate. Your meds can help balance your moods and lead to better sleep, but you have to follow the directions.
- Some medications, including some antidepressants, can disrupt your sleep. If you think your medication is causing your issues, talk to your doctor. Don’t stop taking it unless your doctor gives their approval.
Talk to your doctor about sleep aids and supplements.Your doctor may be able to prescribe a prescription sleep aid, depending on the other medications you’re taking. Another option is over-the-counter sleep aids or melatonin, which can also help you fall asleep.
- Always check with your doctor before taking anything, especially if you’re taking medication.
Video: Bipolar Disorder Symptoms & Treatments : How to Diagnose Bipolar Disease
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