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 for insomnia may involve cognitive behavioral therapy or sleeping aids.
People with bipolar disorder experience extended episodes of mania or depression. Mania episodes are defined as periods of high energy, impulsivity, and irritability. Depressive episodes are defined as periods of fatigue, intense sadness, and loss of interest in activities.
Many people with bipolar disorder also experience sleep problems, which can further affect symptoms.
This article explores the connection between bipolar disorder, the circadian cycle, and sleep issues.
Sleep disturbances are a
People may feel a decreased need for sleep during manic episodes. They may go days with little to no sleep without feeling tired. During depressive episodes, they may sleep excessively or may have difficulty sleeping.
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 of bipolar disorder.
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- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
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, 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 before the condition develops. One
Similarly, a 2022 study found that people with genetic features that may predispose them to insomnia are approximately
The relationship between bipolar disorder and sleep 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 bipolar disorder.
Improved sleep is an important treatment goal in bipolar disorder. Many treatment plans include interventions to improve and maintain quality sleep.
According to clinical trial results
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. A healthcare professional will carefully monitor the use of insomnia medications that may lead to dependence.
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.
The following are some frequently asked questions about bipolar disorder and insomnia.
Is insomnia a symptom of bipolar disorder?
Sleep disturbances are common in people with bipolar disorder. In particular, a depressive episode is
How can a person with bipolar disorder get better sleep?
Having a vigorous exercise routine can
Sleep disturbances are common in people with bipolar disorder given the close relationship between mood, sleep, and circadian rhythm.
Many people living with bipolar disorder experience inadequate sleep during and between episodes. Sleep issues may trigger mood disturbances in some people with the condition.
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.