Bipolar 1 and Sleep Issues: 7 Ways To Improve Your Sleep | MyDepressionTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyDepressionTeam
Powered By

Bipolar 1 and Sleep Issues: 7 Ways To Improve Your Sleep

Medically reviewed by Ifeanyi Nwaka, M.D.
Posted on May 28, 2024

People with bipolar 1 disorder have manic episodes that last for seven days or longer. These periods are marked by intense hyperactivity, which can make it seem impossible to wind down and get a good night’s sleep. Sleep problems affect about 70 percent of people with bipolar disorder, even when they follow their prescribed treatment plan.

In addition, related conditions, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety disorders, are also common in people with bipolar 1 disorder. These additional health conditions can make it even harder to get a good night’s sleep.

“When I don’t sleep, everything seems so much harder,” a MyDepressionTeam member said. There’s not always one simple solution to sleep troubles, but a combination of lifestyle changes and medical help may get you through the rough patches and promote better habits and quality of life. Here are some tips if you’re sick and tired of poor sleep.

1. Make Exercise a Daily Habit

Healthy routines are essential, especially when you have bipolar disorder. Adding consistent exercise to your schedule (preferably at the same time every day) can help you sleep better and boost your physical and mental health. “I’ve been working out or trying to work out three times weekly. At the end of the workout, the endorphins kick in, and I feel energetic and alive,” a MyDepressionTeam member said.

If you’re not used to exercise, don’t worry. It’s OK to start slow. You can benefit from increasing your activity even if you’re not doing a long or intense workout.

“I’ve been working out or trying to work out three times weekly. At the end of the workout, the endorphins kick in, and I feel energetic and alive.”

— A MyDepressionTeam member

Enter Cell 2 Content Here...

Enter Cell 3 Content Here...

Enter Cell 4 Content Here...

Enter Cell 5 Content Here...

Enter Cell 6 Content Here...


Sometimes, the biggest battle is scheduling time for exercise on your calendar and finding the motivation to take the first few steps. Accountability to a friend who wants to join you or a personal trainer can be a game changer when committing to an exercise routine.

2. Use Medication That’s Approved for You

Treatment for bipolar disorder includes psychotherapy and medication. Fortunately, some of the same medications for bipolar symptoms can also help with sleep issues.

“I have long-cycling bipolar 1. I have found trazodone to be helpful. I fall asleep in about 15 minutes and wake up feeling refreshed. It is an antidepressant and a sleep aid in one,” explained a MyDepressionTeam member.

Since bipolar disorder can require multiple medications, it’s crucial to stay on your prescribed plan. Some medications interact with others, causing dangerous side effects. Others must be taken together to work well. If you see more than one health care provider who prescribes medication for you, make sure they’re all aware of your other treatment plans and full medical history. Sleep medicine can be helpful but also potentially dangerous when mixed with other medications.

3. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of mental health treatment that studies show can be effective for people with bipolar disorder and insomnia. CBT helps silence the worries in your mind so you can regain control over your thoughts. It also teaches you how to adjust behaviors that may negatively affect your sleep.

“When I’m having trouble sleeping, I listen to a sleep story when lying in bed. I mostly fall asleep before the story ends.”

— A MyDepressionTeam member

Enter Cell 2 Content Here...

Enter Cell 3 Content Here...

Enter Cell 4 Content Here...

Enter Cell 5 Content Here...

Enter Cell 6 Content Here...


The main benefit of CBT is that it won’t interfere with other treatments. You can learn to practice CBT in addition to taking the medication that’s already working for you. A qualified mental health or psychiatry provider who specializes in CBT can show you techniques and strategies that you can use for the rest of your life. CBT can be a useful way to calm down for better rest and also in other situations, like during stressful events.

4. Tuck Into a Bedtime Story

The benefits of a bedtime story don’t have to end in adulthood. Many people find that reading or listening to a story before bed helps them fall asleep. “When I’m having trouble sleeping, I listen to a sleep story when lying in bed. I mostly fall asleep before the story ends,” shared a MyDepressionTeam member.

To listen to relaxing stories, you can download an app or get an audiobook online or from your local library. If you prefer to read on your own, avoid doing so on your phone or computer. The bright light from electronic devices can make it harder to sleep well, so traditional print books are a better bet.

5. Treat Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a breathing issue and sleep disorder that causes sleep disturbances. Studies show that people with bipolar disorder and mood disorders have a higher rate of sleep apnea than the general population. Weight gain is a common side effect of psychiatric medications, and this can also contribute to sleep apnea.

“About four months ago, I got off all antidepressants and other medications related to depression. The hardest part of the transition was the insomnia I experienced,” explained a MyDepressionTeam member. “That was compounded by my sleep apnea. I am currently fighting with the CPAP machine, which I had tried several years ago but could never adjust to.”


If you decide to take a nap, try to limit yourself to just 10 to 20 minutes.

Enter Cell 2 Content Here...

Enter Cell 3 Content Here...

Enter Cell 4 Content Here...

Enter Cell 5 Content Here...

Enter Cell 6 Content Here...


Discussing your sleep problems with your doctor can help uncover other underlying issues that could be putting your health and safety at risk. A sleep study can determine if you are having breathing problems at night and if you might need treatment for sleep apnea.

6. Take Naps With Caution

If you have sleep deprivation at night, you may also notice daytime sleepiness. “I feel tired all the time but can’t sleep at night!” reported a MyDepressionTeam member. It can be tempting to take long naps when you’re tired, but that can make the problem worse.

Although a short nap can help you feel better, napping for too long or too late in the afternoon can lead to a lack of sleep at night. If you decide to take a nap, try to limit yourself to just 10 to 20 minutes. Doing things during the day to promote wakefulness, like spending time in bright light outdoors, can help regulate your circadian rhythm or internal sleep-wake cycles.

Consistency is key for better sleep habits. Try your best to maintain the same sleep and wake times each day.

7. Reconsider Your Caffeine Intake

People who consume caffeine may underestimate how much it affects their sleep. Although you may feel like caffeine has little effect on your sleep quality, research suggests that the stimulant reduces sleep quantity, or how much sleep you get. Getting enough hours of shut-eye each night is essential for feeling your best. Even if you sleep deeply, going to bed late or waking up too early can mean you’re not as rested as you would be after a full night’s sleep.

Avoid procrastinating on sleep by cutting back on caffeine and setting a reminder to get to bed on time. If you’re a fan of coffee or other caffeinated drinks, consider reducing your intake. Although you may feel more tired in the short term, you’re more likely to get the sleep you need during the coming night.

Find Your Team

MyDepressionTeam is the social network for people with bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions. On MyDepressionTeam, more than 147,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand what it’s like to live with mental health conditions.

Do you have any tips for getting quality sleep? If you have bipolar 1 disorder, have you noticed a decreased need for sleep or dysregulation of sleep patterns during episodes of mania and mood episodes? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Posted on May 28, 2024
    All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

    We'd love to hear from you! Please share your name and email to post and read comments.

    You'll also get the latest articles directly to your inbox.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
    Ifeanyi Nwaka, M.D. earned his medical degree from the American University of Antigua College of Medicine. Learn more about him here.
    Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

    Related Articles

    When you live with a mental health diagnosis like bipolar disorder, being in a romantic or sexual...

    Dating With Bipolar 1: 8 Things To Consider

    When you live with a mental health diagnosis like bipolar disorder, being in a romantic or sexual...
    It’s not unusual to apply more than once before qualifying for Social Security Disability benefit...

    Is Schizophrenia a Disability? Qualifying for Benefits and More

    It’s not unusual to apply more than once before qualifying for Social Security Disability benefit...
    We all know the importance of a healthy diet, but how do your food choices play a role in your bi...

    Diet for Bipolar 1 Disorder: 3 Foods To Avoid and 3 To Eat

    We all know the importance of a healthy diet, but how do your food choices play a role in your bi...
    Throughout our lives, many of us experience anxiety. For people living with bipolar 1 disorder, t...

    3 Types of Anxiety in Bipolar 1 Disorder

    Throughout our lives, many of us experience anxiety. For people living with bipolar 1 disorder, t...
    Schizophrenia is a mental illness that typically starts to affect people between the ages of 16 a...

    Employment and Schizophrenia: 5 Best Jobs

    Schizophrenia is a mental illness that typically starts to affect people between the ages of 16 a...
    This is a short guided meditation by Dr. Christiane Wolf on self-kindness, which can give you mor...

    Self-Kindness When Struggling: 6-Minute Guided Meditation

    This is a short guided meditation by Dr. Christiane Wolf on self-kindness, which can give you mor...

    Recent Articles

    MyHealthTeam does not provide health services, and if you need help, we’d strongly encourage you ...

    Crisis Resources

    MyHealthTeam does not provide health services, and if you need help, we’d strongly encourage you ...
    Do you ever feel so tired that it’s hard to get out of bed? This could be a sign of fatigue, whic...

    Bipolar 1 Fatigue: 5 Ways To Relieve It

    Do you ever feel so tired that it’s hard to get out of bed? This could be a sign of fatigue, whic...
    As you age, your body, thoughts, and emotions continue changing over time. The same can also be s...

    Do Bipolar 1 Symptoms Get Worse With Age?

    As you age, your body, thoughts, and emotions continue changing over time. The same can also be s...
    To manage mood disorders like bipolar 1 disorder, doctors can prescribe a variety of medications....

    6 Treatments for Bipolar 1 Disorder

    To manage mood disorders like bipolar 1 disorder, doctors can prescribe a variety of medications....
    The prognosis of schizophrenia depends on how severe your symptoms are, whether you’re on treatme...

    Schizophrenia Prognosis and Life Expectancy

    The prognosis of schizophrenia depends on how severe your symptoms are, whether you’re on treatme...
    If you’re living with bipolar disorder, you’ve likely experienced mood swings between mania (elev...

    Bipolar Psychosis: 7 Things To Know

    If you’re living with bipolar disorder, you’ve likely experienced mood swings between mania (elev...
    MyDepressionTeam My depression Team

    Thank you for subscribing!

    Become a member to get even more:

    sign up for free

    close
    MyDepressionTeam
    Add to your home screen
    MyDepressionTeam Tap below and then 'Add to Home Screen'