There is a clear link between Bipolar Disorder and sleep deprivation, lack of sleep and a reduced need to sleep during manic phases.
About Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder is defined as a ‘mental condition with alternating periods of elation and depression’ (Oxford Dictionary). Often referred to simply as ‘depression’, it is popularly associated with the kind of sleep pattern one expects to see in a depressed person – extended sleep and lack of energy. This ‘common perception’ is, however, largely inaccurate. The opposite is more often true: depression is linked to lack of sleep. The lack of sleep can be both symptomatic, and causal. In other words, depression can lead to a lack of sleep and lack of sleep can make depression worse.
However, one doesn’t develop Bipolar Disorder from lack of sleep. With this particular mental condition, altered sleep pattens are considered a feature of the illness. Unfortunately, this feature does make it worse. The sleep deprivation that comes with Bipolar make the symptoms more intense. Sleep deprivation plays a major part on perpetuating the cycle of ‘elation and depression’.
Reduced need to sleep in the manic phases of Bipolar Disorder
The elation cycle of Bipolar is more often described as the ‘manic phase’. During this phase, the chemical imbalance in the brain that causes the manic behaviour and other symptoms can also considerably reduce the need for sleep. The manic person does not feel like they meed much sleep. They have an abundance of physical and mental energy.
Manic episodes can range from full psychotic to simply ‘feeling great’ for a few days, weeks or even months. However, irrespective of how the mania manifests, in 100% of cases, this ‘happy period’ is always followed by an equally intense period of depression that generally lasts for the same length of time. This is the so-called ‘crash’.
The ‘crash’ after months of little sleep…
The crash phase is a diagnostic symptom of Bipolar. It is a consequence of the chemical imbalance in the brain and / or psychological causes. However, there is no doubt that the sleep deprivation that comes with the manic phase contributes significantly to both the onset of the depression phase, and its severity.
Unfortunately for sufferers of Bipolar Disorder, the lack of energy that may have them not able to get out of bed for days on end is not ‘catching up on sleep’.
Good quality sleep is elusive in both phases of Bipolar Disorder. It can usually only be achieved with medication to treat the depressive disorder itself.
Bipolar disorder causes, symptons, types and treatment