Lifestyle and Behavior Changes

Controlling and monitoring your sleep is one of the best ways to manage mood swings associated with bipolar disorder.

Controlling and monitoring your sleep is one of the best ways to manage mood swings associated with bipolar disorder.

Gold Standard for Treating Bipolar Disorder (part 12)

Bipolar disorder is an illness that can respond greatly to lifestyle and behavioral changes. A person with bipolar disorder who knows how to make the choices that lead to fewer mood swings has a much better chance of finding stability. There are a variety of areas where mood swings can be significantly lessened. How you monitor and control your sleep, diet, exercise and bright light exposure as well as how you recognize and modify your bipolar disorder triggers can significantly reduce your bipolar disorder symptoms. This can lead to a much higher quality of life and often makes it possible for you to take lower doses of your medications and even get off of some altogether.

Does Regulated Sleep Really Matter?

Of all of the lifestyle choices you can use to manage bipolar disorder more successfully, sleep is the one of the most important. Sleep is also one of the best indicators that a mood swing is starting, especially regarding mania. (Less sleep is often an indicator that a manic cycle is underway. Excessive sleep can be a sign of depression.) Sleep patterns can also let you know if a medication is not the best fit for you.

By finding an optimal sleep schedule, sticking to it and watching for the first signs that your sleep patterns are changing, you can significantly increase your chances of remaining stable.

Can I Use Sleep Patterns as a Diagnostic Tool?

When sleep patterns change dramatically without any outside causes, such as jet lag, you must always ask yourself some important questions from the beginning: sleep can provide so many clues to how well bipolar disorder is being managed as well as let you know when mood swings are starting.

  • Am I sleeping less and yet feeling more energy? (check for mania symptoms)
  • Am I sleeping all day and still feel tired? ( check for depression or medication side-effects)
  • Have I stayed up all night and am still able to function without being tired the next day? (check for mania or medications side-effects)
  • Have I had trouble sleeping due to agitation and anxiety? (check for depression and mania or medication side-effects)

There are also certain situations you will need to avoid if they adversely affect your sleep patterns.

  • Shift work
  • Travel to different time zones
  • Arguments later in the day that will disrupt sleep
  • Staying up all night on a project
  • Partying

The world has become a very busy place and it can be very difficult to reach the goal of getting regular and sufficient sleep. People with bipolar disorder will have to work extra hard to reach this goal as sleep is one of the most important parts of managing bipolar disorder successfully.


next: Does My Diet Have Anything to Do with Bipolar Disorder? (part 13)

APA Reference
Fast, J. (2009, February 13). Lifestyle and Behavior Changes, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Last Updated: June 1, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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