Bipolar Disorder and sleep: I slept eight hours!

Well, eight hours of sleep is so amazing for me. I actually woke up and wanted to do a little jig. I’m what I call an undersleeper. I was actually talking with my friend Kristin yesterday- she’s the author of Bipolar and Pregnant, and we spent a long time talking about bipolar disorder and sleep. Here are all the ways bipolar and meds affect our sleep:

#1. Kristin talked about problems with Topamax. She has no idea if it affects sleep- but she’s pretty sure it affects memory. Kristin uses Lunesta to sleep.

#2. When I’m depressed, I have agitated sleep which means my brain doesn’t shut down at night. Bother! I now use Ativan to sleep.

#3. Of course, mania is the biggest problem. I rapid cycle a lot, so on the nights I can actually fall asleep normally and get 7-8 hours of rest is pretty great. Unfortunately, falling asleep without sleep meds is very rare for me.

#4 . Excessive tiredness from medications- especially some anti depressants. Whew, I used to get so tired my lips got numb and I slept 14 hours a day. I’m now on Lithium.  The tiredness is tough and I sometimes have to take a few 30 minute naps during the day.

My coauthor Dr. John Preston says that regulating sleep is the #1 way to manage the illness. How is your sleep?

It”s ok to take sleep meds if you need them. I had a real struggle with my ativan until I realized I wasn’t sleeping enough unless I used it.  So I use it.


2 comments to Bipolar Disorder and sleep: I slept eight hours!

  • Susan Robb

    I have been able to fall asleep and stay deeply asleep all my life. It is a great blessing most of the time, but quite often can also be a curse. When I’m depressed, I can sleep for 10 hours or more at night and take naps during the day for hours. It’s a real problem if I let myself do that because it is an escape and not a healthy way to work through the depression. It makes things worse emotionally and lying down for so long hurts physically as well.

    Still, I’ve learned from having friends and colleagues who cannot sleep how lucky I am, because as hard as it is sometimes it’s easier for me to make myself stay awake than it is for someone to will themselves to sleep.

    I wish we could all be Goldilocks and be able to sleep the amount that’s “just right” all the time.

  • Michelle

    The only way I get more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep is with medication, and then my brain can go into high gear and override the medication! Using the medication does leave me groggy (well, that and the other meds) in the morning, and sometimes the total effect will last all day.

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