Why sleep is important for people with bipolar II disorder?

I don't feel that my bipolar defines who I am and what I do but it helps for me to understand the importance of getting good sleep, self-care and how to plan my life better.

- Rachel, 25 years old, diagnosed for 1 year.

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What is disrupted sleep?

  • Not sleeping very much (< 6 hours per night) or sleeping a lot (> 9 hours per night)
  • a week when you sleep a lot some nights and not very much on the other nights
  • when it is hard to fall asleep, stay asleep (for example, if you wake up in the early morning but can’t get back to sleep),
  • when you feel like you need less sleep than usual or more sleep than usual

Many young adults have disrupted sleep. This is often because of things like using phones and computers until late at night, socialising late at night with friends, and having to manage work and study. Although there is more evidence about the relationship between sleep and mania in bipolar I, most clinicians and patients say that people with BPII are also sensitive to the negative impact of poor sleep.

Many people with BPII say that changes in sleep patterns are a trigger for “lows” and “highs”. For example, disrupted sleep can:

  • be an early warning sign of a “low” (sleeping too much or not enough)
  • be an early warning sign of a “high” (not sleeping enough but still feeling rested)
  • lead to relapse of severe depression or “lows” in people who have recovered
  • lead to relapse of severe hypomania or “highs” in people who have recovered.

It is a good idea to keep regular sleep patterns with a healthy sleep routine. This means you aim to:

  • sleep for 7 to 9 hours per night
  • go to bed around the same time each day
  • get up out of bed around the same time each day and
  • try to get a similar amount of sleep each night.

This is one strategy you can do to help you to stay well. If you would like to try this strategy go to Self-management strategies for maintaining wellness.