Insomnia; A Sign or Coincidence?

Insomnia is tricky business.

I instinctively attach it to an up swing, usually, because sleep becomes so unnecessary feeling (or impossible sometimes) while hypo/manic.

BUT insomnia can also happen during depression.

OR due to anxiety.

Or any other number of causes, either related or completely unrelated to mental health.

Insomnia is a symptom that I can’t readily identify what it means. I need it to be accompanied by something else in order to point me in the right direction.

I think many people are unaware of the fact that bipolar disorder isn’t just shifts in mood, but also shifts in energy. Sometimes we have to cut back on the amount of activity we’ve planned for, other times we need to do twice as much in order to expel that excess energy.

For me these energy drains and surges can happen in a matter of minutes, or happen gradually over a series of days or weeks. I know these energy fluctuations play a huge role in my sleep patterns, insomnia included. Sometimes I feel so drained all I can do is sleep, while other times I simply can’t seem to sleep at all.

When anxiety is involved, or a mixed episode, I get far too caught up in my head to be able to sleep. My body can be exhausted, but my mind is completely awake contemplating whatever the heck is going on, which sometimes is practically everything!

I have a hunch that the insomnia I’ve had the last couple days might not be related to bipolar disorder or anxiety at all, because it hasn’t been unpleasant, my mood is not awry (either up or down), and if it was a hypomanic sort of insomnia I almost always feel the need to get out of bed and walk around or use up extra energy that is in the rest of my body. There’s no series of racing or obsessive thoughts, no tenseness associated with the anxiety I generally have, so I’d take that off the table too.

Really the conclusion I’ve reached is that I don’t know where it is coming from, but if it isn’t a road sign for some kind of mood-apocalypse I really don’t mind too much. I seem to be getting enough sleep to keep everything fairly balanced (of course, I’m sure I just jinxed myself there), it just was eating away for a moment at the corner of my mind.

I do my best to follow the road signs to anticipate what my mood is doing/going to do next, but it can be difficult because they are in another language. Some signs I’ve seen enough times to recognize and know what they mean, but there are others I am still learning. And, given the ability for this disorder to change over time, it is possible I may be learning them for the rest of my life.

4 responses to “Insomnia; A Sign or Coincidence?

  1. Great post. Through the help of the journaling you suggested I am also noticing shifts in energy level.

    I have noticed a warning sign for me seems to be a gradual swapping of my days and nights. I usually sleep a lot when I am depressed, and as the naps get longer and longer (which seems to be at the bottom of the dip), I am eventually up at night and sleeping all day. This eventually seems to kick start a manic episode. So since my Moodscope score was 5% yesterday, and I am wide awake at 3:18 am…I am guessing a manic episode is around the bend…which actually makes me feel a little better ’cause I just feel so awful right now.

  2. I also sleep a lot when depressed and very little when hypomanic. I usually take insomnia to be a symptom of hypomania because it so rarely coincides with anything else other than overstimulation, which can also lead to hypomania, or make it worse, or be a symptom of it.

    Separating out the cause from the effect with sleep is SO hard. I really struggled with that for awhile. Mood charting let me see that every hypomanic day had a short night before it, and nearly every time I got over 8 hours of sleep – unless totally physically exhausted, like from hiking for 8 hours – I ended up feeling depressed the next day. I find that if I can manage my sleep well enough, it really reduces the bipolar symptoms, which suggests to me that it’s causal.

    • Sarah @ bi[polar] curious

      Interesting thought about sleeping too much and feeling depressed. I have been averaging 7 hours and feeling great, but that could easily be the hypomania on my end. I will have to experiment with that a bit!

  3. Pingback: Hypomanic Menagerie | bi[polar] curious

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