Bipolar Disorder and Sleep

2013 Bipolar Update

Bipolar Disorder and Sleep

There have been many medical studies that sought to explore the connection between bipolar disorder and sleep. Thus far, the results have not been positive for bipolar patients. For a long time, doctors and patients alike have known that being bipolar also makes one prone to sleep issues. The latest results in research is only beginning to show why this is the case.

In all individuals, sleep is closely tied to two body processes called exogenous and endogenous rhythms. In everyday conversation, this is what we term as bio-clock or body clock. It is common to hear of friends and family saying that their bio-clock is still telling them to sleep when it is already time to wake up. Together, the endogenous and exogenous rhythms control our levels of activity based on a plethora of internal and external factors.

To further understand the relationship of bipolar disorder and sleep, we will need to define these terms in some detail.

Exogenous Rhythms - This refers to the external stimuli that our body takes as cue as to when it’s time to sleep or wake up. Common examples include lighting, food, or visual signals like an explosion of colors. Exogenous rhythms are heavily connected to the senses and are the primary means by which our bodies interact with the world.

Endogenous Rhythms - These are internal cues that are more difficult to predict or alter. Among the common indicators are blood sugar levels, hormonal secretions, oxygen levels and general fatigue.

In the case of bipolar disorder and sleep, both these rhythms are on heightened alert. For example, the way bipolar patients process information is different from a normal person, so any cue from the senses can be interpreted differently, oftentimes in hyper-drive mode especially during a mania episode. Conversely, body chemistry and body processes are different in a person suffering from bipolar disorder.

These differences drive abnormal responses to external and internal stimuli resulting to a plethora of sleep disorders such as very vivid dreams, insomnia, waking up in the middle of the night and preferring to sleep during the middle of the day. Bipolar disorder and sleep requires significant attention from doctors, patient, and loved ones alike because these abnormalities can actually worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder. All individuals, bipolar or not need their sleep.

Doctors recommend sticking to a predictable regime to help address bipolar disorder and sleep abnormalities. Other recommendations include tracking daily patterns of waking and sleep, adapting proven methods of controling one’s responses to stimuli such as the Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy, and accepting that the sleep problems will most likely be here to stay so you need to get out of the mindset of worrying and fretting get into a mindset of doing and treatment.

Consult your doctor for bipolar disorder and sleep problems and stick to the recommendations so you can be in a better position to win the fight over bipolar disorder and sleeping problems. There is a huge amount of research going on and and even better treatment methods are on the way.