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Bipolar Disorder Health Center

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Bipolar Disorder and Sleep Problems

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Get Better Sleep With Bipolar Disorder

Disrupted sleep can really aggravate a mood disorder. A first step may be figuring out all the factors that may be affecting sleep and discussing them with your doctor. Keeping a sleep diary may help. Include information about:

  • How long it takes to go to sleep
  • How many times you wake up during the night
  • How long you sleep all night
  • When you take medication or use caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine
  • When you exercise and for how long

Certain bipolar medications may also affect sleep as a side effect. For example, they may disrupt the sleep-wake cycle. One way to address this is to move bedtime and waking time later and later each day until you reach your desired goal. Two other ways to handle this situation are bright light therapy in the morning and use of the hormone melatonin at bedtime, as well as to avoid bright light or over-stimulating activity near bedtime.

Of course, your doctor may recommend a change in medication if needed. Be sure to discuss any other drugs or medical conditions that may be affecting your sleep, such as arthritis, migraines, or a back injury.

Restoring a regular schedule of daily activities and sleep -- perhaps with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy -- can go a long way toward helping restore more even moods.

Steps like these may also help restore sleep:

  • Eliminate alcohol and caffeine late in the day.
  • Keep the bedroom as dark and quiet as possible and maintain a temperature that is not too hot or cold. Use fans, heaters, blinds, earplugs, or sleep masks, as needed.
  • Talk with your partner about ways to minimize snoring or other sleep habits that may be affecting your sleep.
  • Exercise, but not too late in the day.
  • Try visualization and other relaxation techniques.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 19, 2015
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