Often referred to as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a form of depression which presents by way of noticeable swings in mood that can cycle into a pattern over time.
At the zenith of a bipolar swing, a person may experience euphoria and have absolutely no ability to sleep, their minds racing 24-7.
At the nadir of a bipolar swing, however, that same person may experience a deep form of lassitude that makes it nearly impossible for them to get out of bed. They may sleep twice as much (or more) than normal during these low periods.
Sleep can be a saving grace or a curse for someone with bipolar disorder. The challenge is finding the right balance, between opportunities to get adequate sleep and medications to manage bipolar extremes that don’t interfere with normal sleep.
Here are 10 links to read if you want to learn more about the relationship between sleep and bipolar disorder.
APR 5: Word Economic Forum
How sleep and mental health are linked in the brain
From the article: “Sleep abnormalities have indeed been identified in individuals prior to mental illness. For example we know that sleep disruption usually happens before an episode of depression. Furthermore, individuals identified as ‘at risk’ of developing bipolar disorder and childhood-onset schizophrenia typically show problems with sleep before any clinical diagnosis of illness.”
MAR 23: BP Magazine
6 Tips For Helping Children With Bipolar Disorder Succeed In School
From the article: “#1 Ensure regular sleep schedule: Being exhausted, which in turn leads to anxiety and fragile moods, could be caused by either sleep issues from home or from side effects due to medication.”
MAR 6: Psychiatric Times
Online Psychotherapy for Mood Disorders: Are We There Yet?
From the article: “Psychotherapy for bipolar disorder has been firmly established as a necessary ingredient in the comprehensive care of bipolar disorders. Prominent among these techniques are psychoeducation, as pioneered by the Barcelona research team; social rhythm therapy, originally from the Pittsburgh group3; and behavioral therapies that focus on changing sleep habits, including a bipolar-specific variation of CBT-I (cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia) with strikingly positive results recently reviewed here.”
FEB 24: Psych Central
Symptom of the Day: Excessive Sleep
From the article: “Sleep cycles in depression typically swing one of two ways. In the first, a person is unable to sleep when they try. This is insomnia. The second way sleep is affected in bipolar depression is when a person sleeps considerably more than is normal for them. This is known as hypersomnia.”
SEPT 6, 2016: Journal of Depression and Anxiety
Major Depressive Disorder: Pathophysiology and Clinical Management
From the research study: “Delayed circadian rhythm in patients with depression has been linked to diminished level of melatonergic signaling in the brain. Patients may manifest with delayed onset of sleep, difficulty in maintaining sleep and early morning awakening. This has given way to the discovery of new antidepressant agent, agomelatin, which acts on melatonin and serotonin receptors on the SCN. Disruption of circadian rhythm has also been proposed to make individuals susceptible to depression.”
JUN 30, 2015: Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center via Science Daily
For women with bipolar disorder, sleep quality affects mood
From the article: “Sleep problems are common in people with bipolar disorder, and poor sleep quality and bipolar disorder appear to exacerbate each other. Previous research shows that poor sleep quality is a symptom of depressive and manic episodes, and that lack of sleep can trigger mania.”
MAR 15, 2015: Journal of Depression and Anxiety
Genetics and the Ides of March
From the article: “People with variations of bipolar disorder are particularly vulnerable to the insomnia and light changes of spring leading to irritability or even mania. Other folks who have a seasonal-type depression struggle more in the fall, and they begin to feel much better by the Ides of March.”
APR 16, 2014: Bipolar Lives
From the website: “Sleep disturbance is a significant feature of bipolar disorder, and is one of several criterion used for diagnosis, as it is a frequent symptom of both mania and depression. … During manic episodes it’s common to feel a decreased need for sleep, or suffer from insomnia. … But bipolar disorder and insomnia, and the associated sleep loss isn’t just a symptom of mania; reduced sleep can also trigger manic episodes and is a good predictor of the onset of mania.”
APR 18, 2013: Mind.org.uk
How to cope with sleep problems
From the article: “You may find a sleep problem can lead you to… experience psychotic episodes—if you have a psychotic disorder or bipolar disorder, a lack of sleep may trigger mania, psychosis or paranoia, or make existing symptoms worse.”
JULY 2008: American Journal of Psychiatry
Sleep Disturbance in Bipolar Disorder: Therapeutic Implications
From the research study: “Multiple lines of evidence suggest that impaired sleep can induce and predict manic episodes. Similarly, treatment of sleep disturbance may serve as both a target of treatment and a measure of response in mania. The depressive phase of bipolar illness is marked by sleep disturbance that may be amenable to somatic therapies that target sleep and circadian rhythms. Residual insomnia in the euthymic period may represent a vulnerability to affective relapse in susceptible patients. Given the importance of sleep in all phases of bipolar disorder, appropriate evaluation and management of sleep disturbance in patients with bipolar illness is further detailed.”