Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme changes in mood and energy. It can also affect other aspects of a person’s health, including sleep. Treatment may involve cognitive behavioral therapy or sleeping aids.
People with bipolar disorder experience extended episodes of mood disturbances that can either be manic — periods of high energy, impulsivity, and irritability — or depressive.
Many people with bipolar disorder also experience sleep issues, which can further affect mood dysregulation.
This article explores the connection between bipolar disorder, the circadian cycle, and sleep issues.
Sleep disturbances are a
People with bipolar disorder may also experience sleep issues between episodes.
This can be problematic since sleep disturbances can trigger mood episodes in people with or at risk for bipolar disorder.
Certain sleep issues, such as nightmare disorders, have also been found to
Experts believe that sleep difficulties in bipolar disorder result from changes to the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm refers to the biological processes that regulate all the body’s usual daily rhythms. This includes sleep-wake cycles, as well as body temperature changes, hormone levels, hunger cues, and more.
Experts have found that bipolar disorder disrupts the circadian rhythm. This may be due to genetic changes or damage to the part of the brain that regulates these cycles.
Some of these changes may be present even before the condition develops. One
Similarly, another study found that people with genetic features that may predispose them to insomnia are approximately
The relationship between bipolar disorder and sleep issues is likely complex and
Additionally, mood dysregulation in bipolar disorder may disrupt circadian rhythm and vice versa. As a result, mood episodes and sleep issues become a continuous cycle in people with BD.
Improved sleep is an important treatment goal in bipolar disorder, and many treatment plans include interventions to improve and maintain quality sleep.
Other types of treatment that may improve sleep in bipolar disorder include:
- interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT)
- family therapy
Many of these types of treatment include educational and behavioral components aimed at helping people with bipolar disorder practice and maintain better sleep habits.
Doctors may recommend medical sleep aids for insomnia, such as hypnotics, for some people with bipolar disorder to help improve sleep. Given the increased likelihood of substance use disorders among people with BD, a healthcare professional will carefully monitor the use of certain types of insomnia medications that can lead to dependency.
Sleep disturbances can also affect the treatment of bipolar disorder. According to one 2018 study, people with sleep issues were 45% less likely to have sustained responses to bipolar disorder treatment over 6 months than people without sleep issues.
Sleep disturbances are common in people with bipolar disorder, given the close relationship between mood, sleep, and circadian rhythm. Many people with the condition experience inadequate sleep during and between episodes, and sleep issues may trigger mood disturbances in some people.
People with bipolar disorder who have difficulty sleeping may benefit from a care plan that includes strategies to address sleep issues. A doctor or psychiatrist can help identify resources to help improve sleep that are compatible with a person’s treatment plan.