This blog is not a substitute for therapy.  If you think you might have a Bipolar Spectrum disorder, it is my recommendation that you seek treatment right away.

In my last blog on Bipolar disorder, I shared information on dark therapy, an innovative new approach to the treatment of Bipolar disorder.  Dark therapy stems from the idea that we all operate on circadian rhythms.

Most researchers agree that the majority of the population needs 7-9 hours of sleep.  If you have a Bipolar spectrum disorder, moods are characterized by changes in these numbers of sleep.  People with Mania or Hypomania will likely sleep significantly less than that, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea or healthy.  In Depression, those numbers may increase or decrease.

From my perspective, the first step to treating someone with a mood disorder is to help them increase their awareness of their symptoms.  A tracking device is used on a daily basis to help people become more aware of which symptoms they experience, and which activities reduce those symptoms.

In the process of reviewing those symptoms, we pay special attention to sleep and explore sleep hygiene.  When sleep is an issue around moods, it is important to get clear with ourselves, how dark our bedroom is, how calming are our activities before sleeping, and what activities we do during the day that help us sleep or impair our sleep.

At that point we have a choice.  If we want to feel better, we’ll adjust those things as needed so sleep gets easier.  As it gets easier and more balanced, our mood ought to stabilize and the symptoms will likely decrease.

A hot shower or bath, meditation, journaling, and warm milk or herb tea are all good activities before going to sleep.  Sitting still doing an art project can be good as well, something focused like knitting, crocheting, carving, or cross stitch are good examples.  When writing in a journal, focusing on negative experiences during the day will need to be balanced by processing the positive sides of things for some people to facilitate going to sleep.  Intensified emotions may interfere with going to sleep so it is important to consider this when choosing what to write, read, listen to or talk about before going to sleep.

There is a large array of supplements to aide sleep.  If you feel that you need those or prefer them over other options, I would encourage you to reach out to a naturopath, acupuncturist, or herbalist to explore your choices.

Erica Freeman, LCSW

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