Just about everyone at some point has had the experience of being unable to turn off their mind and fall asleep at night. But for the person with bipolar disorder, racing thoughts are a regular symptom of the illness and the inability to get to sleep or remain asleep can become a real impediment to daily functioning. During periods of hypomania, the person with bipolar can face day after day of sheer exhaustion due to lack of sleep. For the person suffering from bipolar disorder, time can feel very slow moving. When sleep is elusive, moments feel like hours and hours feel like days. Trouble with sleep cycles is a common problem. Maintaining a strict bedtime and wake up schedule is vital. Bedtime routines can also be quite helpful. But sometimes, the problem of restlessness persists. Here are a few simple techniques that can help get through those times when the body is crying for rest but the mind just doesn’t want to cooperate.
Instead of pushing away those intruding thoughts, spend a few moments evaluating them. What is demanding attention in your mind? Acknowledge it and then intentionally redirect your thoughts into a more peaceful realm. It will take some effort but you can do it.
2. Put Stress on the Shelf
Perhaps something from the previous day or something in the day ahead is causing you stress. If you ruminate on the source of your stress, you feed it and it grows. The source of stress will not disappear because you think about it. On the other hand, getting sleep will help you deal with things tomorrow. Drink a calming tea, listen to soothing music and then decide to let go of the stressor just for the present. You can deal with it in the morning. This is easier said than done, of course, but the more you acknowledge your stress and give yourself permission to deal with it at a more appropriate point, the easier it will become to do so.
3. When the Reason’s Unclear
Maybe you can’t sleep and you don’t know why. Your frustration mounts and it becomes harder and harder to drift off into restfulness. You are checking the clock and watching as lost minutes and hours of sleep slip by. It is maddening. At this point the important thing is acceptance. If you cannot pinpoint why sleep is evasive, refuse to let that frustration spiral you into a tailspin. Do what you can to redirect your racing thoughts. And rather than worrying over lost sleep, tell yourself that you are at least resting, if not sleeping. Sometimes that can be enough to allow your body to relax, which will increase the chance that sleep will come.