Bipolar insomnia is basically a specific feature of the bipolar disorder that presents itself as sleep disturbance or sleep deprivation. It is so common with bipolar disorders that it can occur both during manic and depressive episodes. While in a manic phase, it presents itself as a reduced need for sleep as the patient is overcome by a seemingly boundless energy characteristic of mania. Though on some occasions, the sleep deprivation itself can result in the mania. Conversely, while in the depressive phase, a patient suffering from a bipolar disorder is likely to feel lethargic through the day which results in excessive napping that can lead to the individual breaking a normal sleep cycle which can result in insomnia.
Ways in which bipolar disorder affects sleep patterns:
Self-explanatory, this is a situation where the patient is unable to fall asleep despite being tired or in some cases, being able to fall asleep but without any form of rest in the night, resulting in a very tired following day.
Like earlier mentioned this is the situation where the patient, while being lethargic in the daytime ends up sleeping more than normal, leading to a disruption in the sleep pattern.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
This is a term used to describe a series of sleep disturbances which can often result in bizarre dreams and other sleep abnormalities.
The close relationship between bipolar disorders and sleep deprivation, both in insomnia’s ability to trigger an episode and the prevalence of insomnia during an episode, scientific research has been able to determine that the gene responsible for controlling the circadian rhythm (otherwise known as the sleep rhythm) is closely related to the cause of bipolar disorders.
Therefore, managing the sleep pattern of the patient has a direct effect on managing the disorder in the patient. Some strategies include:
Reduce intake of anti-depressants and steroidal treatments
Steroids have been shown to impact on sleep patterns especially in patients who have the bipolar disorder. These steroids include and are not limited to amphetamines like Adderall, Benadryl, Prozac etc.
Exercise, but not late at night
A regular exercise habit has the benefit of keeping your body healthy and the added benefit of making the body tired in time for bed. A good exercise regimen helps a patient to maintain a good sleeping pattern of rest and wakefulness.
Reduce alcohol intake
Contrary to popular belief, consuming alcohol before turning in does not aid sleep, on the contrary, it reduces the chances that the patient would have a restful sleep. Reduce your alcohol intake, especially just before bed.
Reduce caffeine and nicotine intake
Excitants like caffeine can stay in the bloodstream for a long period and this can inhibit the patient’s ability to sleep when they are tired, especially if they are already predisposed to the bipolar disorder.
Meditation has been shown to relax not just the body but also the mind. Relaxing the entire being in this way is an excellent way to push back insomnia.
As with meditation, prayer also helps the individual to calm their minds and body, which would aid their sleep. Also, the faith of having prayers answered, especially if the patient prays about the situation aids their ability to sleep.
Yoga poses like the Savasana or the Supta Matsyendrasana are some of the best poses for sleep inducement. They put the body’s energies into a place of rest that drain away all the nervousness and anxiety characteristic of insomnia and aid the needful rest.
Lights and noise
Sometimes the reason why it is difficult for the patient to sleep is as simple as the bright lights and loud noise in the environment. Muted lighting is the best bet for the bedroom if the patient must sleep with a light at all. And also, the room should be proofed to filter out any noise coming from the environment. Otherwise, the patient should be encouraged to sleep with a face mask or earplugs.
Stop worrying about how long you will sleep
Sometimes patients, especially those already aware of their insomniac condition, find it difficult to go to sleep as they keep glancing at the clock or watch or their phones and marveling at how time is going while they stay awake. Surveys have shown that it is less likely for an individual to fall asleep if they keep worrying about how difficult it is to sleep.
There are various natural remedies available that help to aid sleep without the worry of side effects. Some of them include herbal teas like lemongrass tea, which provide an easy and restful sleep. Also, warm milk and honey have also been found to have significant favorable effects.
Journaling which involves the individual recalling all the events that happened during the day has the effect of calming the mind and body as it goes through the almost monotonous process. The fact that it is also a ritual that is followed up by sleep also sets up a conditioned reflex that puts the body to sleep immediately the last full-stop is made.