My life, as pathetic as it may seem, revolves around sleep. You see, when you have trouble sleeping like I do, any ounce, any gram of sleep that you can eek out is pure gold. Bedtime is my jam. I love sinking into the mattress, swallowed up by pillows and blankets. Drooling and snoring also seem to be my thing as well but whatever.
Bipolar disorder can affect sleep patterns in multiple ways, and I feel like I’ve adequately sampled all of them.
I have plenty of experience with insomnia. I’ve had weeks stretches where I’ve only gotten a couple of hours sleep and it absolutely sucks and taxes your sanity. I experience insomnia most when I’m hypomanic or anxious. My mind won’t shut off and it leaves me mentally and physically exhausted.
Hypersomnia is over-sleeping which is more common during periods of depression, and I’ve definitely suffered from this in the past. I just don’t want to be awake, I don’t want to face the world or my family. I just want to be nothing, sleeping my life away.
I also have sleep apnea which affects up to a third of people with Bipolar. I have a C-pap machine, but I don’t wear it nearly as often as I should. I’m sure that if I did wear it consistently, I’d get used to it and I’d get better quality sleep but it’s so hard to do the simplest things that are in your best interest sometimes.
From what I’ve researched, people with my condition seem to have more delicate internal clock mechanisms. Some say that disturbances in routine or major life events can affect quality of sleep and can actually trigger manic or hypomanic episodes.
Suggestions for people experiencing insomnia include going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday (I try to be in bed by 9pm). Avoid naps (I love naps and will not EVER give them up). If you do nap, don’t do it in the late afternoon (oops) and limit your rest to no more than one hour (damn it). Avoid heavy meals before bed (probably includes snacking).
If you’re experiencing hypersomnia (sleeping too much), it’s advised that you gradually reduce the amount of time that you spend sleeping by using an alarm clock (evil creatures that they are).
There are many factors affecting the sleep or sleepless patterns of those living with Bipolar disorder. It continues to surprise me how this condition is so much more than a mood disorder. There’s so many parts of your being that it impacts; sleep, brain, physiology. The more I learn about it, the more complex it gets.