When you live with bipolar disorder, a routine especially when it comes to sleep is something that becomes vital. Often a lack of sleep can contribute to a mood slipping too low or a lot of the time, too high.
Sleep can be tough with mental illness
However actually maintaining a good sleep routine can be easier said than done, especially if you’re struggling with your mood, life stress, any comorbid disorders like fibromyalgia in my case and often side effects from medications. There’s a big difference between the fatigue which comes with bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia and the side effects of medications, and actually having the healthy sort of tiredness that allows you to fall asleep and sleep through the night. There are plenty of things that can make a good sleep routine tough to maintain, but it’s something I certainly strive for as it has helped me so much when it comes to staying stable.
7 tips for good sleep routine
Ways that I have found really help to ensure that I am ready to sleep and keeping that routine as much as possible include:
1. Going to bed and getting up at the same time
One of the things that has helped me the most is making sure I go to bed at around the same time every night and get up at roughly the same time every morning, even if I’m tired or haven’t slept well. This helps my body clock to get used to the times that it is supposed to sleep, and has made a big difference in my mood stability to have that routine.
2. Winding down for bed
Whatever works for you in regards to relaxing and unwinding from the day is most important. A lot of people suggest turning off phones and TV’s for a while before bed, but that doesn’t work for me, and that’s valid too. I find it most relaxing to watch some TV with my husband and dogs before bed, then do my skincare, and head to bed to watch some funny videos with my husband before we sleep. I set my phone to night mode to reduce screen glare, but that routine is what personally helps me to feel relaxed and rid of the stress of the day. Whether it’s reading and turning your phone off that helps you to unwind most, or winding down with some screen time, all that matters is that you are relaxing and preparing your body for sleep.
3. Taking medication half an hour before bed
My medications make me sleepy, so taking them at the same time every night, roughly half an hour before I’m going to be heading to bed, helps me to use that side effect to my advantage. It starts to relax my body and make me tired; this is often a big part of what helps me to get to sleep and to sleep through the night.
4. Keeping a routine during the day
One of the things I’ve found most helpful is having a routine during the day, keeping myself active. That was much harder when I wasn’t working, so to combat that I set lists of goals to achieve, tasks to get done during the day. Now that I work full time from home, maintaining a routine has become a lot easier.
5. Doing exercise during the day
Exercise is such a great way to help your body be as fit and healthy as possible, as well as to wear your body out. Since I started exercising, going walking with my dogs far more often, I have found that I feel so much more ready to sleep when it comes to bedtime.
6. Talking about what is on your mind
Lying in bed at night when you don’t have anything else distract you, is often when your mind naturally mulls things over and if you have things on your mind, they can play over and over again in your head and make it really hard to relax. Ensuring that you are talking about those worries with someone you trust can be a great way to lift some of that weight, and to allow your mind to relax a bit more. I find that getting things off my chest, talking to my husband, takes some of the power away from those thoughts, allowing me to feel less alone and less stressed by them; this, in turn, helps me to relax for the night.
7. Making your bedroom somewhere you feel relaxed
It’s important that where you are going to fall asleep is somewhere that you feel really comfortable both physically and mentally; making your bedroom a place that you feel is calming and comforting is really important. This can mean so many different things for different people; for me, it means a comfortable duvet, teddies that my husband has bought me, pictures of happy times on the walls, a low light lamp and a dream catcher I made on the wall. Whatever makes you feel at ease in your surroundings is what is most important; small touches and adjustments to your surroundings can make a bigger difference than you might think.