People like me who have a mental illness need to take control of our own lifestyles and self-care, in addition to taking our prescribed meds faithfully. In this post, I focus on the sensitive matter of sleep; in particular, the need for us all to get a good night’s sleep every single night. No exceptions allowed.
One expert I quote in my book, Mad Like Me: Travels in Bipolar Country, goes so far as to say:
“Protecting sleep and developing a more organized lifestyle can be as valuable in maintaining recovery as medications.” – Benaur (2010:xxv)
Just pause for a moment and consider the implications of that statement. To maintain recovery, sleep can be as valuable as medications! And I love that phrase: “Protecting sleep...” In other words, we all need to start viewing sleep as a scarce, delicate and very valuable resource that needs to be safeguarded, shielded, protected against the many devious diversions and distractions that constantly vie for our attention. (Choose your poison: late-night texting, Netflixing, Facebooking, checking emails, etc.) All of these must be resisted if we’re to cling firmly to our recovery!
And let’s just forget about making well-intentioned but essentially dishonest excuses: “I’ll nap tomorrow to catch up!” We all know how that will likely turn out…
Let’s think of our sleep as a helpless little infant that needs our watchful and tender care. Take good care of your sleep, and you will remain much, much healthier than if you neglect it.
▶︎▶︎ I now need a lot more sleep, either because of the disorder itself, or my bipolar meds, or both. Do you find the same?
Try to go to bed at more-or-less the same time every night (even on weekends) and get up at more-or-less the same time every morning. I have found that having a consistent sleep cycle really protects me from bipolar episodes. In the past, if I let myself go without enough sleep, I would either get too over-excited and would therefore be at risk of a (hypo)manic episode, or I’d be overtired and at risk of a depressive episode.
What an irresponsible way to live!
I’m now almost religious about respecting my bedtime, and my whole family supports me in this vital step to stay stable.
▶︎▶︎ How’s your sleep schedule these days?
Have you been watching over your sleep-infant like a loving parent?
And for readers who are mentally well, please respect your sleep, too. Getting good sleep could protect you against becoming mentally ill one day. Sleep is great for us all!
Happy New Year!