Bipolar Disorder and Sleep:Euphoric Mania vs. Insomnia

People with insomnia count sheep. People with mania draw sheep and make a collage!

Manic sleeping problems are different from insomnia in many ways-
with insomnia you’re tired, you want to sleep, you toss and turn, you
worry about how worn out you will be in the morning and you often want
medication relief.

I need a Tylenol PM!

With euphoric mania-  Whew! You want to stay up, you’re wide awake and doing
something creative. You have unlimited energy, a racing mind, and rapid
body movements.  You have no desire to get in bed and sleeping feels like a
total waste of time. When the euphoria gets too high, it takes a lot of
psychiatric medication to get to sleep (and you definitely don’t want to
take them and wreck your buzz!) and there is a chance you will be wide
awake and even more manic the next day…….

Here are some of the things you may think when you’re manic at night:

– Sleep is SUCH a waste of time.  I am so much more productive now.
– It’s only 1:00 AM. I could go to the grocery store right now!
– The tile really needs to come up in the bathroom.
– I have not had sex in a long time and tonight is the night. Watch out!

These manic thoughts can be funny- but many people act on them.  When you have insomnia, you just lie in bed and punch your pillow and wish you could just get some sleep so you won’t be tired the next day. It never feels good.

Euphoric mania feels good.

If you’re on the outside of this mania looking in, it’s very important to know that the manic brain is not really hearing you. It’s hearing that you want to ruin its FUN.  The manic person can get very angry and say, “I’m not manic! I’m just finally feeling better! Why burst my bubble!!!”  Mania is definitely treatable- but out of all of the mood swings, mania needs an aggressive prevention plan. It’s just too dangerous if it goes too far.

Like many people, my euphoric mania  focuses on money, men, alcohol and travel.  I never want to sleep when I get this way- interestingly, all of the items on that list are dangerous when it’s late at night!


1. Monitor your sleep. If you have been manic before,what were the signs? The minute you notice these signs, take action and get help.

2. Ask others to be honest and tell you if they think you are manic. Deal with the anger you will feel and get help.

3. If you care about someone with bipolar disorder, use the Health Cards to create a plan. Trying to talk to someone who denies mania or who is manic is basically impossible. The best plan is to plan ahead with a plan!

The next time I am lying in bed with eyes wide open, I hope it’s insomnia. It’s much safer.



119 comments to Bipolar Disorder and Sleep:Euphoric Mania vs. Insomnia

  • kimbriel

    Hmm, that’s not my experience with mania. Both of my manic episodes started with extreme disruptions in sleep FIRST and then the manicky-thoughts later. I’m weird, though, and I don’t even believe my DX.

    Hi Kimbriel,

    I am amazed at how many ways mania can manifest- it’s so complicated! A lot of people have the sleep problems first- it can even be subtle changes and then the thoughts that you’re a genius, etc! Julie

    • kimberly

      Thats how it is with me I stop sleeping even for a night will bring on My mania, I had to be on sleeping meds for 4yrs and the way I got off of my sleeping meds which were Seroquel was by doing Meditation which I didn’t think it was going to work I was very skeptical at first I have been doing it for about 4 months now without any sleeping meds and it has really been nice where I can go to sleep even if I feel wide awake it takes me no longer then a half hour to go to sleep I told my dr. and he was happy that I was able to get off the medication. I take a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant which has kept me stable for the last couple of years.

      My therapist suggested the meditation she had just told me to go thru my whold body and tell each part to relax and just focus on that and from there just listen to your breath and keep your mind focused on that and nothing else it takes time to be able to do that but with practice you can do it.

      I just wanted to pass this along thought it might help someone like it did me.

      • Hi Kimberly,

        It is so wonderful to hear success stories. We all need them- including myself as I have trouble sleeping as well. Thank you, Julie

      • Sarah

        Was there a particular book or video or teacher of meditation you used to learn this? Do you sit on the floor?
        In your bedroom or somewhere else? I’ve done a lot of yoga but never meditation. Could be a good idea for me
        as a nightly routine. Thanks, Sarah

        • kimberly

          I didn’t learn from a book – my therapist and my brother in law practiced and directed me and I did it from there on.

          I know alot of people are skeptical about it, but it works!!! Also it helps to drink some tea right before, you can do it in your bedroom just lie on your back and follow the techniques.

          Let me know how it works for you 🙂

          Take care of yourself

          • Hi Kimberly,

            Do you suggest any particular kind of tea? Julie

          • Joan

            I have a CD from a series of meditation cd’s from Jon Cabat Zinn. It is called Body Scan, #1 on the this website: It relaxes me so much that I have rarely heard the end of it! Another thing I use when I have trouble getting to sleep (probably non manic times) is to listen to audio books on my iPod. That way I can get in my “sleep position” and have the lights out to induce sleep, but my mind has something to occupy itself other than worries and an endless to do list.

      • soupogoil

        I recently started using guided imagery to help with my sleep at night. You can download it for free at They have several different recordings to address a variety of issues, including affirmations you can listen to at any time and repeat to yourself. The guided imagery guides you through a type of body scan as well.

      • junior

        What are you talking about it’s 6:30 AM and I am a Genious, who needs sleep, please!!!!

  • Mike

    Thank you for this post Julie. Sleep problems are a sign of big problems ahead with our bi-polar family member. She has bi-polar 1 and we have all learned that just one night of no sleep means a call to the Dr. in the morning to ward off a hospital visit for full blown mania.

    YOur blog is great and without your cards packet I think our family would still be looking for answers on how to be of help to her. I can’t tell you how much you have helped us make all of this manageable. Sometimes even the PDOC is suprised by what we know.

    We credit you all of the time for helping us to know what to do when attitudes and behaviors seem to come out of nowhere. It also helps to refer her to the books again when reasoning is difficult. I know in our case, she doesn’t want to be difficult but when she is sick she just can’t see it.

    Thank you for all that you do. You are a household name in our family!

    Hello Mike,

    Thank you so much for your comments- I need them today! This illness is so complicated, isn’t it! I am glad you are so educated- that is essential with this illness. We all need family and friends to help us see when we’re getting manic! Julie

  • Danielle

    boy you described that perfectly. thats how i felt on a manic high. i could run a marathon at 3 am. i could go without sleep for 2-3 days

  • bpbookworm

    I often experience hypomania at night, especially this season, when it’s lighter much longer. At night I also tend to have more “bp conversations” and have dysphoric hypomania.
    For me, I feel this incredible pull to do, do, do – to stay out of bed even though it’s not good for me. The feeling is not a good one, though – at the same time I feel like I need to _do_ (interact with people on Facebook, re-organize parts of the house, start projects I’ve been planning) I also feel like my frenetic energy is heading me for trouble. If I don’t force myself to stop _doing_ and go to bed, I know I will be in for a sluggish morning and mild signs of depression. It’s a bad cycle to start.
    I am trying to restrict my Internet and TV use at night – When I am successful, I don’t go into the computer room/office or downstairs to the TV after 10:30 p.m. On weekends I allow myself some flexibility with this but then I do pay for it later.

  • Jim

    I have a regular sleep schedule that I try to keep to. On those evenings that I’m off even by 30 minutes it makes a bid difference. I often find myself going to the livingroom and having the tv on for sound and that helps me to sleep. I don’t watch any program that I’ve interested but just the noise and the movement of the screen helps me to relax. I try not to take any sleep medication if I don’t have to because I don’t want to become dependent on it

  • corie

    you have explained my mania perfectly. my roommates used to love living with me, becuase they would wake up and find the entire apt cleaned. Sometimes they would even find the furniture rearranged. I still feel at times that I want to clean and organized at night. This I know is a sign that I need to take my sleep meds and put myself to bed.

    Hi Corie,

    Why on earth does mania make us WANT to do things we would not normally do when stable. I am not a huge fan of cleaning- but wow, the hypomania turns me into a cleaning robot. I actually have to be careful as I will get in a mood where there is just too much ‘stuff’ around and I will put it on the curb! Thanks for your comment. Julie

  • Jessica

    Hi Julie,

    I love your articles. Thank you very much for your insight. It helps me with my bipolar. I have been battling this disease for years and I still have trouble. Most recently my insomnia and eating disorder has started again and I just can’t believe how this has creeped up on me again. I can’t get more than an hr or two of sleep at night and my thoughts are going everywhere. I am starting and finishing projects in no time at all and going on day trips, writing, being creative, going through this manic stage, that makes me thrive, but scares me to death, as we both know, can set us off, in a terrible direction. Do you have any suggestions, to help relax me, to make this manic stage, a more comforting and inviting time in my life where I can relax rather than feel like I am going insane?

  • Liz

    This is exactly how I feel when I am on a high, I get up at 3 am and write pages and pages of waffle, but I can’t stop myself writing. Also I want to hoover the house and do loads of house-work.

  • Suzanne

    I went through a 5-month hypo mania (despite being medication compliant & taking some seriously sedating meds as always have had a problem w/ sleep) & didn’t realize it was dangerous & felt SO GOOD. Since I usually spent so much time in depression, I just thought WOW–I LIKE THIS. I had been relatively stable for about 5 yrs. so was only seeing my meds provider every 6 mos. unless I called in & was not in therapy.

    But after 5 mos. of only sleeping 3 hrs. or so a night, I suddenly crashed after my husband made a negative comment about my weight gain since being on psych meds (12 yrs.–50 lbs.) that I overdosed on my meds & ended up in the ER. Haven’t done that kind of behavior for a long time.

    That was 3 yrs. ago & still trying to get over the shame of that & also, fear. How could I do that behavior (mother committed suicide–bipolar, also & swore I wouldn’t do that to my children).

    Now back in indiv. therapy & DBT & had meds adjusted & meds provider wants me to call if I go for 3 nights w/out 6 hrs. of sleep as she will add even more sedating meds. I need to sleep or my brain malfunctions & I can do dangerous behaviors.

    I loved the hypo mania & miss it. I actually feel like I was a “better” person, more fun, outgoing, happy. Now I’m kind of blah & isolate myself.

  • Suzanne

    P.S. Your books are great. I love your attitude & insight.

  • First,Julie, thanks for writing your books, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, Get it Done When You’re Depressed & Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. I am a licensed professional counselor who specilizes in the management and treatment of bipolar disorder and your books are required reading for my clients. Not only your insight and ideas are helpful, but you are also an inspiration to those facing the challenges of living with this diagnosis and trying to get a life.
    As for sleep and bipolar disorder, I find it to be the most important aspect of treatment after medications for my clients. I find that lack of good sleep is what leads to mania in many cases. Those nights of tossing and turning without racing thoughts can cause the onset of a sleepless mania. Helping clients establish good sleep hygiene is a major goal of counseling. Changing their daily habits of caffiene intake, blue screen exposure and timing of exercise have all been beneficial. Whenever sleep is not happening, I always require clients to contact their psychiatrists for a consultation. Thanks for providing support for those touched by bipolar disorder.

  • My medications help me sleep, they calm the racing thoughts that I have daily and put my out like a light. However without them, I don’t want to go to sleep. I may or may not feel tired but it doesn’t matter because I don’t WANT to go to sleep at night. Even though I know my body needs sleep I find myself doing whatever I can to stay awake.

  • Katherine Coyne

    I’m on 300 mg. of Lamictal, with 1 gram of Ability and Welbutrin, too. This combo has probably been the best for me so far – but it’s only been a few months since I’ve been taking this concoction for bi-polar I. I’ve known I’ve had it for almost 30 years. The meds seem to keep getting better, I still gain insight after every episode, and because of my attendance at support group meetings and checking this site, I feel like less of a freak, and more like a human being with challenges like anyone else. Remember that you are not alone and that you are worthy of love and acceptance regardless of manic or depressive behavior.

  • Hello
    I was wondering when mania hits at night what medications do most doctors favor in helping bp persons to sleep??
    thanks so much!!

    Hi Teresa,

    The number one way to deal with mania and sleep problems is to treat the mania- which means using a mood stabilizer or anti psychotic- if they are not enough- there are other sleep aids such as anti anxiety meds- I manage my sleep by making sure my mania doesn’t go too far. My books talk about meds a lot, but mostly they are about prevention- so I do what I can to stay stable- it’s hard! I take Lamictal which helps with my rapid cycling and depression, but I still have a ton of sleep problems. This is normal. I use Ativan (an anti anxiety med) when I have to- but I really limit this! If you go to the menu on the right, there is a link to all of my sleep blogs- there is a lot of great information there as well.

    Thanks for writing!


  • David

    I am experimenting [ yes I know]with my medication , lamictal and valpro, which have been good , but I felt its time to enjoy a little Hypomania [ I know] Its been great for the last 6 weeks, with admittedly little sleep[but the cricket and Tour de France is on he he]I will go back on my medication [ yes i know] soon [yes i know] But just to put my experience out there. I am not leaping tall buildings at a single bound, spending money like water etc etc,Please feel free to add this to the above comments [ Or contact me if there is a way you prefer to coomunicata these experiences to other fellow travellers]

    Cheers, David

  • David

    Hi Julie,
    I have just been diagnosed 9 weeks ago.
    I had a serious physcotic episode. In the weeks before I had very little sleep and the two days before none. I am learning about this illness and I know now that lack of sleep is a sign and a trigger of mania. Maybe the most important one for me.

  • Todd

    I read many comments about supposed manic activities at night when people would otherwise be asleep. I have not been diagnosed as bipolar, but read Julie’s email posts because it gives me a greater understanding of my X wife, who was diagnosed as such.

    Yep, I still love her in the heart, but obviously, the two of us cannot live together, and I am way past all that frustration. However, I’ve pulled all-nighters on projects in a manic way. I’ve normally only done this when I knew that I did not have to work the next day or meet some other obligation, ie: my time to do with as I will.

    I sence that there are feelings of guilt from others that do this. Some of my best works of art or writing has come from these sortes when all others are asleep and the world seems quiet.

    Again, this seems to be within boundaries of being with oneself, and knowing when and how to interact with others within (self) proscribed time frames.

    Years ago, I learned meditation methods of many types. When first starting to meditate, one always gets those feelings of, “I’m waisting time – need to get up and do this project or that thing.” It is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome before getting into the deaper more benificial levels of meditation. It is a form of self disipline, to take those precious 15 or 20 minutes to oneself and let the world pass by. It is difficult for most Anyone on the planet to sit concious, in a chair or on the floor for 15 minutes in quietous.

    Perhaps if I were annalysed, they would say that I am bipolar as well, but I have (natural) meditation to help keep me regulated rather than (unnatural) medications of pills with bizare side effects of their own.

    It’s just a thought. Read a book on “Trancendental Meditation,” or any other meditation technique. Then put it to practice.

    =1 *thumbs up*

  • Suzanne

    I was on Abilify, Lamictal & Klonopin. Trazodone was added to try to make me sleep. Didn’t help me STAY asleep more than about 3 hrs. Provider wanted to add a little Seroquel, but I didn’t want to as I’ve already gained weight on my meds.

    EMDR for PTSD (by trained therapist) has really helped w/insomnia so off the Trazodone for now & decreased Abilify dosage. But if I feel a mania coming on I do increase the Abilify a bit & that usually knocks it out in a week.

  • Any desire I get to stay up and not sleep – whether manic symptoms or something else – I take as a real warning that manic trouble is ahead if I do not make myself go to the bathroom cabinet and take an Ambien tp myself to bed. Lack of sleep, no matter what the cause, does fuel this illness. Fortunately, it is one of the easiest signs to read in managing this illness. Best of luck to all.

    • Rupesh Pawani

      You can find that about 25 to 65 percent of bipolar patients who had a manic episode had experienced a social rhythm disruption prior to the episode. “Social rhythm disruption” is some disturbance in routine affecting the sleep/wake cycle; it can be as simple as staying up extra late to watch a movie on television or getting wrapped up in an interesting online chat session, or as serious as being unable to sleep due to a family member’s serious illness or death.

      • Hello Rupesh,

        This is completely true. Any time change, especially when traveling can lead to hypomania. This is especially true if the weather is sunny. The problem is that the hypomania usually feels so good, the person with bipolar disorder doesn’t want to do anything about it! I have been there, believe me. If you have been depressed for a while and suddenly you feel better- and want to get out and do things and see people and finally have fun! Why would you want to do anything about it? But you do need to do something about it. As it always leads to depression. This illness is tough on us!

        People with bipolar have to know their normal moods- so that they can know the signs of hypomania as soon as they show up. If you go to the mania tab to the right- I talk quite a bit about hypomania as that is what I get when I get manic! Julie


  • Connie

    10 years since diagnosis, BP II. 100 mg of Lamictal 2 x day, 1.5 mg Klonipin 3 x day, and 100 mg Wellbutrin when needed. Seroquel 300 mg at bedtime, and the Seroquel puts me to sleep within an hour. The only time insomnia occurs is when I get REALLY manic, which prompts me to use the cards and get through it, usually within a few days. The only worry is my dependence on this drug.

    I know many of you cannot tolerate Seroquel, but to me it is a life saver when it comes to sleep. It’s also supposed to prevent mania and gives me a good night’s sleep almost all the time.

    I still have frequent mixed states and rapid cycling during the day, and have a hard time dealing with them.

    Does anyone else have success or problems with Seroquel?

  • HB

    Hi, this is Julie. The following post from HB is excellent- I want to make sure it’s also clear that this is not medical advice- but simply her ideas on sleeping better- so if you do try some of her ideas- check with someone who knows how the ideas will work with bipolar disorder meds, etc. Thanks to HB!

    Hi Julie,

    Very good post with lots of interesting comments, too!

    Sometimes, when my mind keeps going but I want to sleep, I try taking something subtle that sometimes makes me tired. Like chlortab (an over-the-counter allergy medicine) or magnesium or 300mcg of melatonin. And sometimes that is enough to work. When it does work really fast, I think that it is a placebo, and that I’ve tricked my mind into quieting down!

    Of course, that doesn’t always work, and then I try something a bit stronger. Sometimes phenibut (a supplement) works, sometimes not. I used to take anti-anxiety meds too (like xanax or klonopin), but because I’m without medical insurance, I’ve been relying on supplements.

    A note on the melatonin. There are many different kinds and dosages, many of which I think are too strong. If you can find melatonin 300 mcg (that’s Micro Grams; NOT milligrams) that’s the lowest dose available and it really may work. I tried a stronger extended-release form and I think it caused bad dreams and didn’t make me feel good.

    However, you should check with your doctor before taking supplements, as some of them may interact with medications or with your moods.

    I hope this information helps!


  • Jenny

    I tried Seroquel last fall with some success in sleeping. I won’t try another anti-psychotic until they come up with one that has less dangerous side effects. Since I was diagnosed and started taking meds I no longer get the urge to stay up and be productive, or write endlessly, or call everyone at midnight. I just cannot go to sleep which makes me tired and depressed. irritable and anxious. This only happens in the summer, usually I have no problem sleeping. I used to be very hypomanic in the summer where I felt great one day and suicidal the next. I am maxed out on Lamictal, Wellbutrin and take 150 mg of Zoloft a day. This combo usually works but not lately. I also stay out of the sun as much as possible.

    • I am on 200 mg of Seroquel and it has been mostly effective for heading off mania, but it makes me VERY groggy. I am trying to get on something else. Calling everyone at midnight, sure was one of the signs for me. Haven’t done that for a couple of years.

  • Jenny

    I forgot to add that I was diagnosed with Bipolar II 7 years ago, I think I also have rapid cycling, and definitely have mixed states.

  • jeannie

    Same here-when my mind keeps going- I take a teaspoon of children’s benedryl to help ease me off to sleep. I had read this in a book about bipolar disorder and also asked my doctor and she said that was perfectly alright and better than having to take my anti-anxiety drugs. No sleep meds have ever worked very well for me. She told me to just take the adult Benedryl but it wipes me out for the whole next day. Also, I read on a Lamictal insert that the drug binds with melatonin in the body- Does anyone know about this and can it affect my sleep? I can’t tell- I have trouble sleeping no matter when I take my doses. One more thing- watch taking Valerian (helbal sleepaid)- read it can interact badly with our meds and/or our condition.

  • zab

    I can’t sleep at night. So I sleep in the morning from 6 am to 4 pm. And then since I have some work that my sisters give me , I will do those . When I tell my doctor she says that it is all haywire. It has been since 2005 when I have a manic episode. I am trying to find solution about it . I will see my doctor next month . So far I used a mood chart but I really do not know if I am stressed out. I feel I should do more . I learn not that is best not to work after you are hospitalized.

  • walter

    many thanks i identify with your diagnoses of manic depression with regards to the sleep pattern – i keep telling my wife about bp – she is still learning to coup with it – please keep your e-mails comming – many thanks for the good

  • HB

    Thanks Julie for the comment on my comment! This is definitely not medical advice. I’m not a doctor!

    I’ve had a series of nights recently where going to sleep without taking anything hasn’t been working. It’s quite dissappointing. I’d say it’s more insomnia than mania, but perhaps a bit of hypomania mixed in. I took 5-HTP and magnesium these last couple of nights and that did work after an hour or two. But now I am a bit “glowy” which is my descriptive term for a mild hypomania. I say things are glowing because my monitor seems too bright and the sunlight seems really bright… But my thinking is still clear.

    Sometimes, it seems that changes in vision are really related to mood changes. Since the brain controls perception I guess that makes sense.

    My husband also has Bipolar Disorder and has trouble sleeping. His trouble sleeping is more chronic than mine. Seroquel works great, but the hangover lasts a long time for him. Even a low dose 25mg or less can cause a grogginess the next day. So his sleep patterns are eratic. I can relate with Zab’s comment above. Sometimes sleeping at the ‘wrong’ time is better than sleeping at the ‘right’ time and then having to deal with the grogginess or other side effects of a sleep medication.

    Like Zab said, the main problem with not sleeping when everyone else does, is getting work done. Not good for anyone who needs to work a regular job. 🙁

    To edit my previous comment, now I think that even the low dose melatonin gives me weird dreams.


  • Ric

    Hi Julie
    I have had a sleeping disorder for as long as I can remember, I have been Bi-Polar for as long as I can remember, I can only sleep if If I take Ambien, I find if I take Xanax i wake up to tired.

    I have a question I have never taken anything but Xanax, is there a difference between Atavan?

    Thanks Ric

    • Hi Ric,

      Here is a list of anti-anxiety medications:

      diazepam Valium 2-10 mg 5 mg
      chlordiazepoxide Librium 10-50 mg 25 mg
      prazepam Centrax 5-30 mg 10 mg
      clorazepate Tranxene 3.75-15 mg 10 mg
      clonazepam Klonopin 0.5-2.0 mg 0.25 mg
      lorazepam Ativan 0.5-2.0 mg 1 mg
      alprazolam Xanax, XR 0.25-2.0 mg 0.5 mg
      oxazepam Serax 10-30 mg 15 mg

      They are all called benzodiazapines and have similar properties. Many people choose a particular medication based on the one that gives the less side effects. I have taken Ativan (Lorazepam) since 1995. It’s an amazing drug as it doesn’t make me groggy- if I get the dosage correct. I stuck with 1mg for almost ten years- then I had to start taking more as my sleeping problems increased. I now have to take 2mg sometimes- and I am not happy about this! But, it’s better to take limited sleep meds and sleep- than stay up all night and mess up your schedule for the next day.

      Ambien and other actual sleep medications are not antianxiety/benzodiazapine meds and they naturally have different properties and side effects. They work very well for some people with bipolar and make others sleep walk- so, as with all meds- it comes down to side effects and how well rested you feel the next day.


    • Hi Ric,

      Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin are all benzodiazapines- also known as anti anxiety meds. They are basically the same and used for the same symptoms- but people respond to them differently. I take Ativan and always have (I would have huge sleep problems if I didn’t have the option of Ativan.) A friend of mine takes Klonopin. So it’s just what works for you. I never feel tired if I use Ativan to sleep- ask your health care professional if you can try some- the dosage will be different. I always try to take as little Ativan as possible and always try to get to sleep on my own. It’s hard isn’t it! But I always remind myself- sleep is more imporant that worrying that you need meds to sleep. I always remind myself of this. As long as I am not addicted and am not building up too high of a tolerence, I take the meds.

      But- I also have to take care of myself in ways that will help me sleep- no caffeine (well, at least not coffee caffeine) – nothing too stimulating before bed such as a party that goes really late. I often leave events far earlier than others just to make sure I will be able to sleep. It’s hard when you’re depressed and you feel great at karaoke- but you have to leave! It’s a choice and I choose sleep.

      I hope you find a drug that helps!


      I put this as a blog post as well as your question is so important!

  • Lisa

    Hi Ric,

    I also have some sleep problems associated with Mania. When I can’t sleep I take 25mg of Seroquel, and a-typical anti-psychotic, that I take at a much higher dose as an anti-manic when I am having a mood swing of mania. When I am suffering from mild mania I sometimes have to take a low dose at bedtime for a month or two. Then as I level out again I can sleep without it again. But my psychiatrist says it is okay to take low doses as it isn’t like a sleeping pill that you can become addicted to. If I take it too late, like wait until 2 am before I give in to the fact that I’m not falling asleep I am very tired the next day, but if I know I’m feeling revved up and take it at 10pm I wake up easily and am ready for work at my usual time without any problems.

  • Kristin

    One more to add to the list for sleep- although it’s an anti-psychotic, my doc said he uses it with bipolar patients to help them sleep at night. 25mg is the lowest dose, but apparently higher dosages have also been shown to help with depression. As long as I take it early enough, I don’t feel as groggy as I do with Ambien or xanax which I’ve tried several times before.

  • Kristin,
    What med are you recommending? As for Ambien, I took it daily for two years and had to quit, because, I started a new job and found it VERY difficult to grasp the training I was undergoing. After a time, I feel, it just made me stupid. Unable to remember concepts. I made it through very intensive training, by being a good test taker and faking it.

    I have linked sleep problems directly to mania. I am on a strict regimen, now, for sleep and follow most of the insomnia recommendations.

    I am currently on 200 mg Seroquel and it takes hours, in the morning, for me to get past the after effects. I avoid morning activities, especially driving. Unfortunately, my access to my docs are regulated. I am a VA patient and have had two psychiatrists in less than a year. I am very interested in changing meds, but it seems to be an uphill battle, because VA limits the number of visits.

  • Julie,

    You asked about tea before meditation. I like Tension Tamer from Celestial Seasonings, I can remember times when it has had a profound effect. I recommend it for sleep problems.

  • Corina

    I was diagnosed 3 years ago with Bipolar 11. Been on many different meds. with all kinds of side effects. I take 300 mg. Seroquel at night 8:00 pm. It kicks in withen the hr. and off to bed I go. No interuption in the night unless I need to use the restroom. I get up everyday between 7:00 & 8:00 am. No caffeine just like Julie says. I also drink tea.

    I still wondered why I could not really focus, however get all kinds of things done in the day, very creative, you all know what I mean. Anyhoo, I took some tests from my doctor who specializes in psychotic meds and through some med. trials I finally got on 30 mg. Adderall. Guess what? I also am ADD. If you are ADD and take this med. you kick it down a notch, which is exactly what happened to me. However if you are not, you would feel like you had way too many cups of coffee. I can watch a movie all the way through without telling someone to pause the movie several times because I have something to say. I definately can focus now and have a conversation with someone without talking a hundred miles a minute. Also, you will shed some pounds as your appetite is suppressed.

    I listen to all of your stories and have not heard of anyone yet being Bipolar and ADD. I am. I wish all of us the best of health in 2011.

  • Corina

    Hi Julie,
    I wanted to add to my last comment that I have all of your books and a great support system with my family.
    I have finally found a good psychiatrist, a good therapist and a good doctor.
    I want everyone to know that all of these meds. that we are on cause side effects. You need to stay in tune with your doctors so they can moniter your blood levels, heart rate and blood pressure and so on.
    Suggestion to all: Keep a good journal of how you are feeling from day to day and share it with your therapists. It saves a lot of time.

  • Lisa

    Hi Julie this lack of sleep and mania relationship is so dire for me. The hardest part was really accepting no sleep meant danger. I had been diagnosed with bi-polar for 2 years but the thing that finally caused my doctor to refer me to a pyschiatrist was when my second child was born. I had a 2 year old as well and on a follow up visit three weeks after taking my new baby home we worked out that I had not had any real sleep since I left the hospital. But it was so hard for me to accept anything was wrong. My house was clean from top to bottom, all the cupboards were clean, I had no laundry and I was managing enough time with my 2 year old that she didn’t miss out on any time because of the new baby. To me I just felt like I had endless energy – it’s only when I got well that I could see how badly I was affected. Now just even reading what I’m saying makes me shudder. I am even affected by a simple thing like the change in daylight savings time – 1 hour. The difference these days is I don’t want the high because the price I pay is too high.

  • Robyn

    My husband has bipolar. He goes through stages where he doesn’t sleep & I’m still trying to determine if it’s the lack of sleep first & then the episode. His episodes are always the same, he gets mean, he is super negative, overwhelmed with everything, talks about it constantly & sometimes talks about suicide. All in front of our children & sees nothing wrong with it. This is NOT my loving husband! He has never spent money excessively or had sex with anyone else. His depression doesn’t put him in bed. He still gets up – his thoughts are just way depressed & normal objects around the house can make him think of suicide. My problem is that this is really hard. If he has a “good” (what he sees as good) day or even few hours, he wants to be intimate. I just can’t do it. My emotions aren’t ready. I need him to be stable for longer than that. This can cause him to stay awake all night thinking about it. Of course, he doesn’t think about how I might be feeling. He only thinks about it in a negative way. Any help or suggestions? I love my husband & I married him “in sickness & in health”, I never realized how hard mental sickness can be. He had only really had these symptoms for a few years. They just come across so personal since “I” seem to be his trigger at these unstable times. 🙁

  • mar


    So many of these stories sound like they were written by me…
    rearranging furniture…i “have” to stay up all night looking for the perfect job…the perfect master’s program (which by the next day, the relevance has fizzled…); I HAVE to paint a detail on a painting, I HAVE to write inspired (“brilliant”!) answers to e-mails while euphoric…or terrible (“necessary”)rants to family, while dysphoric, hours and hours until practically dawn…
    Getting so riled up at night, and then next day of course, exhausted…Kay Redfield Jamison write that she just “had” to play tennis at 3 a.m.
    so we certainly aren’t alone…!

    I just recently came to terms w/ fact that I AM BIPOLAR…tho have been dancing around the “being labeled” thing, but now I am liberated from denial…And now i can see it in time, for what it is, and STOP; to keep behaving that way in order to justify it, just made it worse and worse…and it went on for days, or months. Now I know.

    Note to self: Do exersize (during the day!).Turn off computer at the latest at a certain time, so plan to sleep by midnight…No skyping, etc…tone down, take a hot bath, listen to calming tapes, like THE GAP, by Wayne Dyer. Breathe. Start up w/ yoga again. At night, if inspired to do a zillion things at once, don’t do them , just right them down for next day…Drink camomile and linden teas….

    Anyway, THANKS so much to Julie and all for sharing-
    Blessings, Mar

  • Can

    I have been untreated for BIPOLAR for 6 years and was admitted to the emergency mental health ward 5 days ago. It has been in the last 5 days that I have had a further 2 diagnosis of BP. Leading up to the hospital I had lost control of my body and screamed, I was and still am, feeling so frustrated at my moods bouncing from one to the next, within a period of 5 minutes.

    I was suicidal 2 days ago and luckily I rang a help line. My new psych. who I like very much put me on 12.5 mg of Seroquil, the next morning I was groggy and aggressive and so angry and by the night time felt myself again. During my mania I steal and binge eat.
    I reduced my dose to 6mg last night as I am extremily sensitive to medications and after 3 years have worked up to being on 40mg of LOVAN. Today I woke up calm but still manic. I binged and I cannot seem to reason with myself at these moments, which is scary. I want to stop the seroquil as, for me, I feel so high but groggy. On the up note i DO not feel suicidal or want to self harm, I do however want to steal and binge eat.

    It is very frustrating. And scary. And all I want is the moods to subside so I can feel in control.

    PS. Julie. I think your site is so great, I was telling my Mum how you use such positive words, like “you can get strong again” I think that is awesome.

    Kind Regards,

  • Cat

    Hi Rhonda — I have bipolar 2 disorder. I was finally diagnosed correctly in 2006 and have been successfully taking Lamictal (lamotragine) since then. I didn’t want to get a diagnosis because I’d read about the other psych meds prescribed for bipolar disorder, I already weighed 250, and I just couldn’t stand the idea of gaining even more weight. But the depression got so bad that I finally caved in. We took 2 months to ramp up on the Lamictal and I remember waking up one morning and saying “I’m not depressed!!!” This was remarkable to me as it seems that depression has been my major symptom of this disease — although when I think about it, I probably just appreciated the hypomanic episodes which were always followed by more depression. SSRIs and Wellbutrin never worked for me. Psychiatrists never picked up on the hypomanic part. It just felt to me like I was finally acting like a “normal” person.

    About 6 months before I received my official diagnosis, I started taking fish oil which included 3200 mg EPAs daily, in addition to inositol and GABA. I didn’t really think the fish oil was doing much, since I didn’t have the dramatic reaction from taking it that I did when I got to a therapeutic dose (250 mg) of Lamictal. However, I recently had surgery and was required to stop taking fish oil for a week before and 2 weeks after (they are concerned, probably unnecessarily, about it thinning the blood too much and possibly causing bleeding), and I definitely noticed that I was way more emotionally over-reactive than usual.

    Concerning my weight, once my meds were stabilized (Lamictal), I finally was able to admit that I have a sugar addiction, joined Overeaters Anonymous, and have maintained a 100-lb weight loss for 4 years. This is an absolute miracle. Eating foods that numbed me out (sugar, refined carbs) was probably a way I was trying to deal with the feelings that arose from my BP disorder. I think some people get into alcohol for the same reason — numb-out.

    As far as I can tell, Lamictal has had no side effects. When I first started taking it, it caused drowsiness if I took it in the morning, so I started taking it at night. It then caused the most godawful nightmares I’ve ever had, so I switched back to mornings and have been fine since.

    However, I’ve been having trouble making myself go to bed. I know this is really dangerous for exacerbating my BP disorder. (I see my therapist 1x/month as a reality check for how I’m doing.) The person who described hypomanic sleep deprivation above tells my story. My psychiatrist prescribed Seroquel for that — a MUCH lower dose than is standard as an anti-psychotic — but the one time I took it, I was so drugged and zombie-like the next day, that I just don’t want to go there again. If I can make myself go to bed, I don’t have trouble falling asleep. If I ever do, the relaxation exercises described above help. But sometimes I just say F*#$%&#$ it and stay up all night. I’m pretty sure it’s the blue light of being on my computer (which then leads to “research projects”) before bed. And that feeling of FINALLY it’s quiet and I can get something DONE — even though it’s never very important.

    If Lamictal is working for you, why switch or add something else? If you must, I would suggest giving fish oil a try. I am lucky in that I can just take lemon-flavored fish oil right off the spoon. You would have to swallow a LOT of large capsules to ingest a therapeutic amount of EPAs.

    I appreciate all the comments as it’s giving me a heads-up on what my lack of good sleep hygiene could lead to. I’ve never been hospitalized, but don’t want to go there, and I certainly don’t want to head back into depression.

  • there are many things that can be done for mental illness- first it happens to 1-2% of entire population of the world regardless of where you may be and regardless of the timeline. what goes in the human comes out and that means thoughts, food and drink and actions- anyone of which can cause mental illnesses through genetic storage from generation to generation. ronald c dishinger 7/1/2012 my website is i sell nothing and represent no one except myself. Now with mental illnesses- it is our duty to aleviate as much pain and suffering.

  • Wendy

    When you know you SHOULD sleep & you lay in bed attempting to fall asleep, but your mind won’t stop racing is it mania or insomnia?

    I’m guessing it’s mania b/c it seems to happen in cycles. I don’t take rx sleep aides anymore b/c I was taking one pill to fall asleep & another to wake up. Last night I took Lamictal as usual, ibuprofen pm, benadril & Vistaril (not all sleep meds at the same time. Now it’s almost 5:30am & I still haven’t slept.

  • Lisa

    I was finally diagnosted with Bipolar Disorder after a major manic episode that sent me into the hospital a year ago. Something changed in my brain from that episode in my opinion &/or all of the meds changed my brain (which is what they do) to not allow me too sleep for the more than 4 hrs straight for the most of the entire last year. Until recently, I’ve also been able to get to sleep but I could not stay asleep for more than 5 hrs. Usually 4 hrs, sometimes 3 hrs. Anyway, I slept like a baby prior to a year ago, even though I had Bipolar Disorder for more than 20 years. The misprescribed drugs (prosac, wellbutrin, vyvance & I was also taking pseudefed and other cold medicince because I was sick) & other external factors caused the perfect storm episode. Anyway, I tried numerous prescriptions for sleep & nothing helps. What does anyone think of Neurofeedback & Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing?

  • dan

    im 47 years old and have never been diagnosed with any type of mental illness whatsoever. My wife passed away 3 years ago after 20 years of a great marriage with 3 kids.

    I experienced full blown mania starting about 8 months ago and stopped about 2 months ago after some serious spending and reckless behavior that has left me with 7 arrests including 2 DUI’s. I had been a very law-abiding person and never got arrested previously. I experienced several episodes of delusions and I remember almost all of it.

    About 2 years ago I met a woman that I almost married twice(got engaged and dis-engaged twice) and had a very tumultous relationship with. During this on again off again relationship I started smoking increased amounts of pot. about 8 months ago we tried to get back one more time and spent the night in San Diego. I stayed up all night doing very weird things around the hotel room. That seems to be the start of it.

    I attribute my mania to not being able to handle the stress of trying to have a relationship with this woman, being a single dad etc etc. I wasnt clinically depressed before this happened but I wasnt happy either. My brain was on fire dealing with everything and then I just seemed to slowly snap.

    I lost my license and that seems to be what halted my Mania. I couldnt go out anymore and I was left at home thinking about what I had gone thru and slowly coming out of it.

    I also had abandoned my children to my mom after 20 years of being the best dad ever.

    Anybody experience this or something like this?

  • Kris

    Hi Julie,

    I really do not understand my problem here. I feel like ” sleep is a waste of valuable time” everytime i sleep long i wake up and blame myself.My symptoms are like this. ” i don’t want to sleep bcz i have to watch TV”. If there is no TV ” i don’t want to sleep bcz i have to work on my lappy”. I eat a lot to make my sleep go away. I create easy things and works just not to sleep but i wonder i never do things that were needed to be done in that time , why is this?. My motto is i dont want to sleep. What is this called.

  • Dennis

    I was diagnosed with bipolar in 1981 and began receiving total disability for it that year.since that time,i have been a day sleeper.for years I was sleeping from 6am to 2pm.i hung out with a bipolar cousin for many years and we’d have fun into the wee hours of the morning hanging around at walmart and coffee shops,cruising the streets playing around on the cb radio and listening music//he relocated to another state recently.i never realized how difficult it would be to find bipolar people to hang with all’s hard enough just to connect with people having the same interests as me,and meeting biolar people with those interest is near impossible.i realized recently that being unemployed all these years ,I’ve never had to be obligated to much of anything except to finds stuff to pass time.i realized too that my interests are that of a teenager and here I am a grown man interests are music videos of the 80;s and hanging out all hours at night like a teenager.i kind off understand why most bipolars choose to work if they can instead of choosing to live on total’s difficult to find ANY person interested in hanging out all night lollygagging ,acting like kids.funny cause even though i’m bilpoar and there’s millions in forums and chatrooms I still seem to be different than any of them I’ve ever spoken to(even the extreme cases are so different from me,as they don’t work but they have hugely manic episodes).I feel lucky to stable on my meds.the only indication (by appearance) that I have anything is my ifestyle.unemployed,awake all night,sleep’s fun when you have someone to share it with.but it’s depressing as hell now since i’m doing it all friends.

  • jon

    money men alcohol travel. doenst sound like a creative hypomanic just a woman

    • Hilarious! The difference is in the outcome- my hyppomanias never ended well. They started out great, but great damage was done by the time they were over! Julie

  • Ashley

    I was just researching “husband ruining manic episode” when I came across this article. I literally told my husband ten minutes ago that going to bed will waste my manic episode. This article is so accurate. I didn’t realize my thoughts about ruining my manic episode was due to my mania, I thought it was “normal” for me to want to hold onto the mania so that I can prolong my crash/depression. For me, manic episodes come less often than the negative episodes (anger/depression/indifference/etc) so when I get them in my mind I’m thinking “finally a manic episode, I can actually be happy for at least a little while.” I’m not medicated although I am looking for a doctor that can help me. Luckily, my mania has never gotten to the point that I’ve acted on any of my crazy ideas but last week I was in an episode and was seriously thinking about doing meth. I am anti-meth like no one else so that was a big wakeup call that I need help. Anyway, great article!

    • Dean Tiernan

      Ashley, I understand you don’t want to waste your mania. Especially if you suffer more from the depressive side. For me, mania is trouble, jail, hospital or even homeless trouble. There is no happy side. I don’t suffer from deep, rather some mild depression. I understand mania can be fun, for me its a great big red flag and I spend much of my life making sure it doesn’t progress beyond mild “fun”.

  • Laura


    I do think it’s normal to want to hold on to the (in my case hypomania)because it is such a relief from the depression, which for me has been treatment resistent depression for the past two years (I’m on 7 medications for BP II). Julie said in one of the previous posts that it’s important to know your ‘normal’ state. I haven’t a clue what that is since I’ve been extremely depressed (daily thoughts that focus on death and loss), or once in a great while am hypomanic; I’ll start a writing at 10pm and the next time I look at the clock, it’s 3:30 am. That’s what usually happens to me when I’m manic. I lose all sense of time and my OCD takes advantage. I’ll be editing a video and work on the same 3 sec section for 1-2 hours to get it ‘just right’. I’m in a hyper mood during the day, talking quickly etc… but my motivation to be productive (usually in a creative way) begins in the evening and continues into the early morning or carries on into the next day. And yes, the lack of sleep eventually results in a huge crash of depression, but I figure, I live in it most of the time, been to the extremes (hospital stays, suicide attempts etc…) so it is kind of worth it to me if I get fortunate enough to have a break from the debilitating depression I’m always in. I know that’s against eveything Julie says/writes, but I considered suicide at age 11 and I’m 47 this month. I’ve lived with the dark shadow for a long, long time. (btw, less and less hypomanic episodes the older I get) I do think it’s important for you to be officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist if you already haven’t, definitely begin finding the best med combination for you, and I believe, just like exercising is just as important in losing and keeping off weight as eating properly, finding and regularly meeting with a psychologist rounds out your best chance at living the most fulfilled life as possible.


  • Jessi Evans

    Hi Julie,
    My name is Jessica Evans. I’m 13 Years old. I haven’t slept in the past 2 days & I don’t think I will be sleeping tonight because I’m having trouble doing that. I think I am having a manic episode because I actually have been very productive at night for the past 2-3 days. I want to tell my dad to take me to the doctor & get me checked out,but he usually says “your fine,get over it.” I still am going to ask but I’m worried this might mess my body up since,you know,I’m still very young. Also I didn’t sleep last night because I was worried about my family because a man was following us yesterday. And today,my friends & I were walking home from church & a man pulled a gun on us but didn’t fire,then kept circling. So I am still extremely terrified. Please,tell me what I need to do.

    Thank you so much,
    Jessi Evans.

    • jon

      in todays society we need to justify everything and diagnose it. if you were bipolar you wouldnt be seeking help and think anything was wrong. mania makes yo8u feel you are productive but you do nothing. Trust me i’m having a film made about my life. its called anxiety it will pass

  • Blondie

    At night I tend to have tons of energy. Sometimes I wonder if humans can be nocturnal. I feel like I am more productive at night. This is when I do my homework, clean my house, plan things for the week. I often go through my closets and drawers and get rid of things and it gives me a great feeling! But I usually later regret what I got rid of. I sometimes post tons and tons of things on facebook and regret it the next day. I also sometimes don’t remember what I did at night the next day. Do you think these are signs of being manic, or am I simply a crazy nocturnal insomniac? lol