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Tips for Improving Your Sleep Schedule

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Updated June 18, 2014

A poor sleep schedule can have serious health and mood effects
Mark Douet / Getty Images

A regular sleep schedule is important in maintaining stability for those with bipolar disorder. One of our community members wrote, “At the advice of my therapist, I have been trying to regulate my sleep. This has been a LOT harder than I thought, so I have done a bit of research. I am going to try some behavioral changes that I hope will resolve this problem.” Her tips and others are below

Tips for Regulating Your Sleep.

  1. Enlist the help of others. One way to do this could be to post on our Bipolar Coping & Communications Forum.
     
  2. Set an achievable goal. For example, the community member above wrote, “My initial goal is to go to bed at 10:30, lights out and fall asleep by 11:00, and sleep until 6:30. I probably could use more sleep, but I understand that many people find it helpful to start with a restricted goal and work up from there.” (This wouldn't work for me, because I need more than 7 1/2 hours sleep, but since I keep getting on a 4:00am to 1:00pm schedule, I do need to work at getting into bed earlier!)
     
  3. Switch to walking and getting sunlight in the AM instead of PM (PM walking is good for folks that wake up too early, AM for folks that can't get to sleep). If you can't walk, at least try to get outside for what sunlight is available.
     
  4. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages after 3:00 (noon is even better).
     
  5. No alcohol after 9:30 PM (5:00 is even better).
     
  6. No naps after 3:00 PM (none at all is even better, but start with a goal that is doable for you).
     
  7. Exercise at around six hours before bedtime.
     
  8. Keep a sleep diary. This can be challenging, so you might start with a goal of just keeping the diary for a week, and then add new habits as you work toward your goals.
     
  9. If sleep is a serious issue for you, if you snore, or if you are obese, talk to your primary care doctor about it. He or she may want to refer you to a sleep specialist. Do the same if someone shares a bed or bedroom with you and reports hearing things that could indicate problems. See About Sleep Disorders for extensive information.

Also see:

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