Ongoing Sleep Disturbance
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Q:  Ongoing Sleep Disturbance

Is an ongoing sleep disturbance typical of bipolar disorder, or is that an indication that the bipolar is not being managed properly?  I have been pretty stable for a couple of months since a mixed episode, meaning my mood is okay and my thinking is clear.  But I still feel like I don't need to sleep.  I can sleep if I take enough trazodone (I'm currently taking 200mg), but I don't get sleepy "naturally."  I am uneasy about this because it seems like something is "not right."  My psychiatrist is not sure what to make of this, because overall I am doing well and not having manic symptoms, but he thinks something is "not right" too.  Is this an indication that my mood stabilizers need adjusting, or is this something that just needs to be managed with sleep meds and isn't really a concern?

Dear Jodie-- 
Both you and the psychiatrist are looking at this sleep issue as though it warrants concern, so my opinion may not add much (in general, I'm always concerned about sleep deprivation, for whatever reason, in people with bipolar disorder). And since I just suggested a non-medication sleep approach to the last person with whom I corresponded this week here at Bipolar World, I might be suspected as inappropriately promoting an untested therapy by doing so in the very next letter! However, I'm still quite sure this approach cannot harm someone (unless they break the plastic material and get a minor cut...), so here goes, I'll send you there too: read about
Bipolar Disorder, Light and Darkness and check out the use of amber-lensed safety glasses as a means of affecting sleep. Sounds pretty kooky but you'll see the science behind it is very solid. If it works, it might be a very nifty way to address the issue you raise here. 

Dr. Phelps


Published January, 2007

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