It’s no secret: a regular sleeping pattern can help manage bipolar. When I first got diagnosed, my psychiatrist was very clear about how a poor sleeping schedule can trigger manic episodes. Since my diagnosis in 2000, I messed around a lot with my sleeping schedule, sometimes not sleeping for days or at odd times throughout the day. I’m speaking from my own experience when I say how a regular sleeping schedule can help you manage bipolar.
All through junior high and high school, I would stay up late watching TV. Back in the mid-90s, I had no clue why I was having extreme mood swings. It was right before starting university in 2000, I decided to get help and the advice of a professional. All along, I was suffering from bipolar disorder, and I had no clue. The reason this thought bothers me so much is because I kept abusing my body, doing things like smoking, sleeping late, and drinking while I was living with bipolar. I sometimes think that if I knew earlier in my life that I have bipolar maybe I would have started to take care of myself better. The reason I’m telling all of you this is because my poor sleeping schedule had been around from a very early age. If I remember correctly, starting from the age of 16, I’ve always had a habit of sleeping in late or not sleeping at all. During this time, I was suffering from extreme mood swings without even knowing I was bipolar. I wish I knew how my sleeping habits back then were responsible for triggering my mood swings. But, this is the awesome thing about bipolar: it forces you to make positive changes in your life. In my case, it pushed me to main a regular sleeping habit. And this has done a lot more than just help me manage my bipolar.
Awesome #3 – It Helps Me Maintain a Regular Sleeping Schedule
For the last 4 years, I’ve maintained a pretty solid sleeping schedule, and this has changed my life for the better. For example, I’m normally in bed around 11pm and up at 9am. I’ll do some reading when I first jump into bed around 11pm; this helps me get relaxed and knockout at 12am. I get 9 hours of solid sleep and have never felt better. Very rarely do I veer away from this schedule because the benefits are way too good for me to even consider an alternative schedule. What do I mean? Well…
When I would go to sleep at 3am, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed until 12pm – 1pm, and this had a negative impact on my work. I would wake up at 1pm, then spend an hour eating lunch, and start work at 2pm. That’s five hours of quality work time gone down the drain. Think about it, 9am to 2 pm leaves you with a 5-hour gap, so you can imagine how much work I could have gotten done in that time.
I’ve had an exercise routine in place for several years, even when my sleeping schedule wasn’t perfect. So, after waking up at 1pm, I would take a break at 3pm to work out for an hour. This again would be cutting into my overall work/business time so eventually I would have to make the time up by working until 11pm at night. Then, I would have my TV time and be in bed by 3am, going through this whole cycle again. However, sometimes I wouldn’t get a chance to sleep until 1pm because of meetings, so would only sleep a few hours. Too many nights like this is NOT good for someone living with bipolar. This would (and did) eventually lead to manic episodes.
A fixed sleeping schedule is one of the most important factors in managing bipolar, and you should find ways to work one into your lifestyle. For example, here’s something I read recently that supports this:
“Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, taught people with bipolar disorder struggling with insomnia to stick to a regular wake-up time as well as a set bedtime and found that their sleep improved. And for some, so did their bipolar symptoms.” – everdayhealth.com
So, what’s awesome?
From the age of 16 to 32, I’ve had a very poor sleeping pattern, and it took my bipolar diagnosis to find a sleeping schedule that works. Now, I’m able to wake up earlier, get a workout in first thing in the morning, finish all my work, and have recreational time with the family. I can honestly say that I have more enjoyment in my life because I’m able to do a lot more with my extra time. I’ve been able to finish my daily tasks and achieve the goals I have set for the day all because I’m in a better mood and have a lot of extra time too.
I thank bipolar for this because the old way of sleeping in late and at odd times wasn’t working, and I needed something to push me in the right direction. I knew if I didn’t make the changes to my sleeping schedule, I risked a full blown manic episode and from my experience everything gets affected during this time like my work, health, and social life.
I want to thank bipolar for forcing me to improve my sleeping habits. Now, my fixed sleeping schedule helps me manage my mood, but gives me a lot more time to do the things I love in life. It took me 16 years and my bipolar diagnosis to overcome my poor sleeping schedule. This change has improved all aspects of my life…now that’s awesome!
How is your sleeping schedule? Has bipolar pushed you to make improvements to your sleeping schedule?