Sleep Disturbance In A Teenager With Bipolar Illness

Everyone needs a good quality of night sleep to function well and avoid irritability the next day. A good sleep is even more essential in sustaining a teenager diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  It will help alleviate the symptoms and lessen the risk of having a manic episode.


Samina Ahmed, PsyD said “Adults who have insomnia are also at greater risk for developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.”


A Sleepless Night Is A Struggle

My son who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder since he was 12 sometimes experiences difficulty going to sleep.  He will do things that are disturbing, like singing, watching TV with loud sounds, playing music, unstoppable talking, or doing stuff in the kitchen, leaving my husband and me awake also.  Sometimes, my husband would get mad because he has to sleep in order to be ready for the next day’s work.  These episodes of struggling to go to sleep or waking up in the middle of the night is a warning sign that he is going to have an episode, and it worries us.



A sleep specialist says that the majority of people with bipolar disorder suffers from sleep problems.  When they experience alterations in sleep pattern – either sleeping too much due to depression or struggling with insomnia – this could be a warning sign of a looming bipolar episode.  Experts also articulate how people with bipolar disorder have a disruption in their circadian rhythm.  And that righting their sleep-wake pattern could ease their symptoms and might also reduce the risk of relapse.


According to Michelle Drerup, PsyD, “There’s some evidence to suggest that sleep chronotype, or preferred sleep-wake times, can influence depression risk in particular.”


Police Got Involved

One night, my son who cannot sleep at that time suddenly ran around the house shouting which had put his father in a rage.  The situation got worse in that our son went outside and ran around the neighborhood shouting at the top of his voice.   That made our neighbors report him to the police station, and minutes later, two policemen came to the house to check the situation.


It is not easy when your son with bipolar disorder has attacks of insomnia.




Interventions, Medicines, And Discipline To Reverse Back Circadian Rhythm

My son was taught by his psychiatrist to adhere to a strict wake-up and sleep time in order to improve his symptoms.   At times when he would follow his psychiatrist, it seems that he has fewer episodes and is less irritable.  But there are times when he would sleep too much and that would put him into a bit of depressed mood.   When that occurs, we are left with no choice but to resort to giving him medications that will help regulate his sleep.


Disciplining a child with bipolar disorder is hard, yet it is critical in order for him to improve the quality of his sleep.  We are in the process of considering cognitive behavioral therapy as advised by his psychologist. We have tried every single thing that his therapist had advised in order to regulate his sleep, but sometimes his hard-headedness and naughtiness are a problem.  We have attempted to be strict on his wake-up and bedtime schedules to which he sometimes adheres to, and we are confiscating his gadget an hour before his sleeping time which is a bit of a hurdle.  We even changed the lighting in his room and made a separate place for him where he can store and do some of his stuff so that his bedroom will have a cozy ambiance that would be inviting for someone who couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.


My husband and I hope that his forthcoming cognitive behavioral therapy could help him improve his sleep more because no parents would want their children to be branded as a nuisance to the neighborhood. Hopefully, there would also be fewer disputes.


Shelby Harris, PsyD said “We encourage people to make their bedroom a sanctuary for sleep.”

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