Self-prescribed Mania Sleep Treatment
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Q:  Self-prescribed Mania Sleep Treatment

Hello. My name is Brian and I've been diagnosed as Bi-Polar for 8 years now. Furthermore, I seem prone only to manic episodes. It begins with an increase in all activities on every level. An increase in my creativity, and a thirst to understand everything I can. The first episodes I was hard put to stay focused on one task, one subject. I kept multi-tasking every activity, every project. Tangents were very common in my thinking. And then I require  less and less sleep, untill it no longer seems necessary at all. In fact, I couldn't sleep. Even if I lay still and slowed my breathing as much as possible and cleared my mind. It was no good. My thoughts came faster and faster and I was prone to making correlations between things that need not be correlated. Then I threw all rationality out the window and delved down obscure and freshly thought of "reality tunnels" with  complete and utter belief. My thinking made perfect sense to me, but sadly, to no one else. So then I was committed and medicated to a point of drooling on myself. My eyes became permanently dilated and my new medicated "reality tunnel" left me timid, confused and out of synch with everything, needless to say, including a new warped  perception of all light that I viewed. I know that most Bi-Polar people swing from highs to lows. But I only get manic, like I said earlier. My thoughts race. And I am unable to generate Delta brain waves and produce seratonin. I have discovered a way to fall asleep when beginning a manic episode and subsequently it subdues an episode. I simply wrap an ice pack in a towel a few times for insulation and put it on my forehead as I lie in bed. Within 5 to  10 minutes I'm alseep. When I awake usually 8 to 10 hrs latter, I feel fully rested and my mind is calm with no racing thoughts. My question is there any vadility to this? Does slower moving blood in my brain quell the racing thoughts enough to allow Delta waves to kick in, and therefore produce the seratonin I was lacking? Or have I just imprinted the sensation of a cool head with falling asleep? My hope is that this is an external cure for an approaching episode, which is inexpensive enough and so simplistic as to be previously overlooked.

Hello Brian -- 
Well, that's simple enough I might have some of my patients try it when they can't fall asleep due to racing thoughts.  Never heard of this.  Could you actually slow activity in the frontal lobes this way?  I don't know; it would be interesting to see if that might show up in a PET scan of the frontal lobes, this local cooling effect.  I find it hard to believe that the cooling would penetrate enough to cool the brain itself but stranger things can happen (the skull bone is so porous, yet dense; could it really allow that cooling effect to get through?)  

If it's just a learned association, as you point out, that could still work pretty well, as it may be doing for you.  By the way, having "only manic episodes" is a well recognized variation, though not common -- so you're definitely not alone there.  

Dr. Phelps

Published October, 2004


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