8 Things NOT to Do When Symptoms Keep You Awake

By bp Magazine

When you live with bipolar disorder, getting adequate sleep is vital. Sleep restores and rejuvenates the brain and body with effects on alertness, mood, cognition, body weight and overall good health. But when things like medications or moods disrupt your sleep, there are some things you need to keep in mind.

#1  DON’T Panic

Anxiety does not mix well with sleep. If you start to worry or even panic about your inability to sleep, it will surely make it more difficult. In fact, the harder you work at convincing yourself to fall asleep, the longer it can take. Instead try to clear your mind and meditate, focusing your attention on your breath.

#2  DON’T Think Too Much

Your mind and your body work in unison to help you fall asleep. So, if your mind is too busy to calm down, it will be difficult to get your needed slumber. You can help the process along by trying to calm your thoughts and focus on relaxing your entire body, starting with your toes and working toward your head.

#3  DON’T Try to Sleep if Too Alert

If you are too wide awake to fall asleep, you would be better off getting out of bed and doing something else that is relaxing instead of trying to force yourself asleep with poor results. This will only cause anxiety. Go into another dark room and watch television or read a book to tire your mind.

#4  DON’T Drink Caffeine

Caffeine (which is found not only in coffee but other beverages and snacks) is a stimulant and can cause anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and sleep disturbances. Studies have shown it may be best to avoid it for six hours before bedtime. If you enjoy capping off dinner with a coffee, opt for a decaffeinated brew instead.

#5  DON’T Surf the Net

Avoid getting out of bed to surf the Internet. Mindlessly clicking away can turn into hours if you happen upon some interesting stories or get wrapped up in social media links. Also, studies have shown the blue light from computer screens can impede your shuteye instead of getting sleepy and will most likely stimulate your brain.

#7  DON’T Choose the Wrong TV Program or Book

If you’re going to watch television or read a book, choosing a program that is a real cliffhanger or a real-life docudrama will increase your heart rate and, in turn, your sleeplessness. The same goes for book choices—an exciting, page-turner will keep you awake. Instead, watch or read something without strong emotional responses.

#8  DON’T Do Housework or Chores

While your head is swimming with a long to-do list, now is not the time to clean your house. Although unfinished chores may be on your mind, doing anything physical will tense your muscles rather than relax them. To be alert enough to do chores you have to stay awake, defeating the purpose of getting a good night’s sleep.

#9  DON’T Exercise

While you may think that physical exercise will wear you out and make you sleep-ready, the opposite is generally true. Any physical activity like this will overstimulate your mind and body. You’d be better off scheduling a time a few hours prior to bedtime for your workout to give your body time to wind down.