Friday, November 14, 2014

How Much Time Do You Spend In Bed?

I have been to my fair share of psychological appointments since I have received my diagnosis of bipolar disorder a year and a half ago. I have seen two psychiatrists and one psychologist. They all ask me the same thing at almost every meeting..."How have you been sleeping?"

Although it is a valid question when it comes to someone with bipolar disorder, to be asked time and time again, it gets annoying. Sleep is a very important issue with someone who is bipolar. Sleep issues can be a sign of mania or depression.

Too little sleep can be a sign of mania. Someone who has bipolar disorder can get through the day with little or no sleep. Some people experience spending over 24 hours without sleep or getting by on less than four hours of sleep a night for multiple days in a row without feeling tired. During these times, they get an extraordinary amount of things accomplished. Sleep only gets in the way of getting things done.

One's body and mind can only go at full speed for a short amount of time. Lack of sleep can cause psychosis---a condition characterized with a loss of contact with reality. Delusional thinking (false beliefs about what is happening or who one is) and hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that are not there) can occur. It is not uncommon that a person with bipolar disorder who is controlled with medication to enter this state if they discontinue the use of their prescribed psychiatric drugs. Some individuals stop taking medication because they feel that they do not need them because they feel better, they do not like the way medication makes them feel, or they have a project and can work more efficiently without the sedating effects of psychiatric drugs.

Conversely, too much sleep is also a part of bipolar disorder. After a manic phase, an individual with the illness can crash into a depression phase. In a depressive state, a person my feel as if they cannot get enough rest, even if the amount of time spent sleeping is excessive. 

It is suggested that caffeine intake should be limited in people who have bipolar disorder. The consumption of caffeine can disrupt one's ability to acquire an adequate about of sleep. If a patient also has anxiety, it is also important to monitor how much caffeine they drink.

A few months ago, my psychologist suggested that I watch how much caffeine I drink and how late I drink it because I have trouble sleeping at night. As an added bonus, it would help with my issues with anxiety. Although I understand his advice, I am having a hard time following through with his suggestion.

During my last appointment with my psychologist, I brought a caramel frappe into his office. After our normal pleasantries of how I have been doing the past week, he asked me if I was drinking an iced coffee during our session. I could imagine the gears spinning in his head. Why yes, my dear doctor, "Yes I am..."


photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/raleene/2286887709/">Raleene</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
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