Can Sleep Patterns Predict Issues With Bipolar Disorder?
Last updated: September 2023
When my sleep patterns change, I worry. Sometimes these changes are a predictor of impending mental health issues for me. This is not always the case, but I monitor changes closely to determine the best course of action.
I have bipolar disorder, and I have manic and depressive episodes. If I am suddenly sleeping more than usual or getting less sleep than normal, I pay attention. A sudden change might be the first sign of an episode, or it might be a good indicator that I will soon have an episode.
Depression and changing sleep patterns
Depression can cause me to sleep more, and it can cause me to sleep less. It is unusual for me to sleep uninterrupted for more than 4 hours at a time. When it happens, I start paying attention to my moods each day. I know what is normal for me, so a deviation is cause for concern.
Some depressive episodes lead to me sleeping for 8 hours or more. While I enjoy getting a decent amount of sleep, I must be mindful of my mental status. Catching an episode of depression in the early stages is easier for me to treat. Waiting until I am in a full-blown episode makes it harder to climb out of the dark hole of depression.
Mania and sleeplessness may go hand in hand
Depression can also make me sleep less. I am certain others also have times when they lie awake at night worrying about various things. Sometimes what I think is the beginning of a depressive episode is actually the start of mania.
There are clues, and I have to pay attention to spot them. If I am sleeping less and still feel energetic, it is likely the start of a manic episode. Sleeping less and feeling more tired than usual may be the start of a depressive episode. Being able to know the difference as early as possible makes it easier for me to get it under control.
Treating bipolar disorder and insomnia
I take a mood stabilizer to prevent major issues. As a result, it is rare that I have anything beyond hypomania and milder despressive episodes. Having milder symptoms makes it easier to get under control, but it also makes it more difficult to spot.
Medications to treat insomnia have a negative effect on my mental health. Anything that makes me sleep more often leads to depressive episodes because feeling groggy makes me feel out of sorts. I have adapted to my chronic insomnia and have learned to function on less sleep.
I find that treating bipolar disorder and skipping treatment for insomnia is what works for me. For some, treating insomnia helps better control their mental illness. Talking to your doctor about various treatments and how they make you feel is important to find what works best for you.
Monitoring mental health issues and insomnia
I find it helpful to keep track of my sleeping patterns. This makes it easier for me to assess my mental health. Small clues like this help me determine my status and decide when to seek help to better control an episode.
What works for me may or may not work for you. Everyone is different and has a different experience. How does insomnia affect your mental health? How do you handle it? I would love to hear about your experience.
Do you manage any other health conditions alongside insomnia?