Bipolar Insomnia: The Connection Between Bipolar Disorder And Disturbed Sleep Habits

By Steven Finkelstein|Updated August 31, 2022

There are plenty of people who have bipolar disorder, and there are many more who regularly experience insomnia. Having both together, though, can be an especially discouraging experience. You might not think of insomnia as being a particularly severe symptom of bipolar disorder as compared to some of the others that can manifest. However, if you're not able to get a good night of sleep, then trying to tackle the various tasks in your life that need doing can be exceedingly difficult. Let's talk about bipolar insomnia, and take some time to go over the ways you can escape from it.

Do You Have Bipolar Disorder And Struggle With Insomnia?

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

If you do not know much about it yet, bipolar disorder was previously called manic-depressive illness. It can range in severity depending on which version of it you have, but the main symptoms are going to be the same. There are "low" or depressive periods where a person will have a hard time carrying out day-to-day tasks, and then there are "high" or manic periods where the individual will be filled with nervous energy. These phases may last for days, weeks, or even months.

Bipolar disorder is considered to be reasonably common. As many as three million cases are reported in the U.S. alone each year. The diagnosis is typically a lifelong one. While the exact causes of it are not known, it is theorized that environment, genetics, as well as an altered brain structure all play a part.


The treatment for bipolar disorder is lifelong, as the condition is not something that can be "cured." The best ways to treat it are usually through talk therapy and drugs. The drug combinations that seem to work best are atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers.

The talk therapy will be useful because it will give the person who has it a chance to speak about what they are experiencing with a trained mental health professional. The person who has been diagnosed can seek out a therapist who specializes in treating those with this condition. They are sure to have some good advice as it relates to behaviors that can allow the individual to live as close to a conventional life as possible.

The Symptoms

There are many potential symptoms of bipolar disorder. When someone is in a manic phase, they will be full of nervous energy. They might talk fast and jump rapidly from topic to topic. They will probably be very active, and they might feel that they can do many things at once. You might see them start new projects, or they may spend money recklessly or engage in risky sexual behaviors. They might do recreational drugs as a way of self-medicating. They will not be able to be pragmatic in their thinking, and they may scoff at you if you try to calm them down or get their behavior back under control.

If they are in a depressive phase, then they will likely feel depressed, sad, or moody. They might not be able to take joy in any of the activities that would normally interest them. They may have suicidal thoughts or ideations. They might forget things or have trouble concentrating. If they are in one of these phases, then their job or relationships might be at risk if they do not seek treatment.

What About Insomnia And Bipolar Disorder?

Those who have bipolar disorder and have insomnia might deal with it either in a manic or a depressive phase, but a manic one is more likely. That is because the tendency to stay in bed and sleep for many hours at a time is more one of the hallmarks of the "down" or depressive phase.

If you have bipolar disorder and this is something that is happening with you, then the initial thing that you should do is meet with your doctor or therapist. It might have something to do with the medications that you are on. Some of the combinations can lead to or can exacerbate insomnia.

The answer might be to add another drug, this one sleep aid. However, you should always have a conversation with your doctor before you go in this direction. You want to be careful and not use a sleep aid, whether it is over-the-counter or a prescribed one, that might have an adverse effect when combined with one of the drugs that you are already on.

Do You Have Bipolar Disorder And Struggle With Insomnia?

Other Solutions Besides Drugs

There are some other possible things that you might try aside from drugs, though. Maybe you've tried sleep aids, and they make you feel too groggy in the morning. You then start to consume caffeine to get you up during the days, and then you need more sleep aids to get you to fall asleep at night. This can create a vicious cycle from which is it hard to get away. That is why it is preferable to find gentler, non-chemical ways of falling asleep and waking up.

Exercise More

One way that you can combat insomnia is through exercise. If you tire yourself out, then your body will be more ready for sleep each night. This has an extra benefit of getting you in better shape. It's possible that you might be able to shed some inches and pounds as you fight your sleeplessness.

You can join a gym and take some exercise classes. They might offer yoga or martial arts training. You can get a great workout, and at the same time, you might be able to make some new friends as well. It's also not inconceivable that you might meet somebody at the gym and jump-start your romantic life.

Having A Set Bedtime

It's also helpful if you can go to bed at the same time each night. If you go to bed at different times, then your body will have a harder time knowing when it's supposed to shut down. It can be difficult to alter your schedule so that you're going to bed at the same time if you are a night owl, but once you get through the first few weeks or months, then you should see positive results.

You should try to get up each morning at approximately the same time as well. If you let yourself sleep in for many hours at a time, then it can disrupt the sleep cycle you are carefully trying to cultivate. Giving yourself an extra hour on the weekends is fine, but any more than that should be avoided.

Reduce Your TV Or Phone Time

You should also try to stop using electronics for at least an hour before you go to bed. Stop watching TV, using the computer, and texting or playing games on your phone. These devices stimulate your mind, and if you use them right before bed, then it can take you longer to fall asleep. If you can set them aside and turn them off at least an hour before turning in, then it should allow you to drift off more quickly.

Try A Warm Bath Or Herbal Tea

Part of falling asleep is getting your mind to be less active, and that's why you should try to have calming influences before bed as well. You can take a warm bath and relax with your eyes closed. Try to get your family to let you have some alone time so you can forget about the hectic nature of your life for a while. You can also enjoy a cup of herbal tea. Just be sure that it is one of the ones that does not have any caffeine in it.

Read A Book

You might also try reading a book for a few minutes before going to bed at night. Think about what genre appeals to you, and then get one from the library. If you don't like actively reading, then you can also get a book on tape to which you can listen. You can lie on the bed, close your eyes, and listen to a couple of chapters until you begin to feel sleepy. In time, you might grow to relish and anticipate this simple, quieting part of your routine. It's a way of winding things down at the close of your day.

It might be a combination of these things that eventually allow you to get past your insomnia. If you have bipolar disorder, then getting a good night of sleep is going to be as crucial for you as being on the right medications and going through talk therapy with a trusted therapist. When you're rested, you'll feel more ready to deal with whatever challenges the day throws at you.

Are You Bipolar, And Are You Troubled By Insomnia?

If you are in this quandary, then you can reach out to a qualified mental health professional at We can talk about the situation with you and together we can figure out some possible solutions for your sleeplessness. Until you concoct a suitable plan, this is going to continue wreaking havoc on your life.

Bipolar disorder is always going to be challenging, and you must grapple with it from the moment that you are diagnosed. The good news is that numerous healthy ways exist now for living with it, so you shouldn't despair if you're trying to come to terms with your condition. There are ways of getting around insomnia, just as is the case with all of the other symptoms that might manifest themselves.

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