I used to be that individual who would go to bed around nine or nine-thirty freshman year of college. My friend Anne Marie and myself would joke that our party was going to bed early and waking up early to study for class. Now years later, I have no idea how I managed to do that, because sleeping is not a concept that my brain seems to like. I simply sleep because I know that’s what I should do, not because I want to sleep. The problem with bipolar disorder is that you are stimulated by a lot of outside factors. Some people aren’t stimulated as much as others with bipolar but personally- things are almost too stimulating for me. Everything from a tree, the sound of a bus, to my favorite music playing through my earphones will get me off into a never ending stimulation game, and the thing is, is that I am addicted to stimulation, the reason why I am not a professional sleeper.
Here are 5 things that I do every night that affect my sleep:
- Listening to Music
I always think listening to my favorite song would put me to sleep, then I tried my favorite low-key operatic aria sung by a singer I have loved since I was in third grade, then I tried listening to nothing, and that didn’t work so I went back to music. For me music illustrates my life, and it is an addicting practice. It makes me happy, so why not listen to music before I go to bed? Music stimulates everything from love, drama, tragedy, and comedy. Our brain needs to calm down and music does everything but that. It inspires us to dream, to get up and be proactive.
- Eating Two Hours or Less Before Bed
I don’t know what neurologically, nutritionally, or psychologically it does to one, but I do know that eating before bed doesn’t make me feel good, and it somewhat energizes me, making me incapable of sleeping.
- Watching A Movie
How can one sleep after a romantic comedy, or an action movie? In addition the light of the screen, whether it is a tv or a laptop will make your eyes more awake. For me, the light stimulates me so much, that watching a movie can trigger wanting to eat and listening to music.
- Being on My Phone
With phones being the norm these days, we often don’t think about the impact they can have when we simply use them in bed. Whether it is the Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook app I tend to be up all night reading articles and stalking friends profiles
If I stay up with my roommates and talk in the kitchen I will be up all night with them. I will also be up all night if I have an extra good time with friends that day, or if I have drunken alcohol.
Overall, when I go to sleep I need to be conscious with what I do before bed. Having bipolar disorder, I seem to be capable of staying up all night and we have to recognize to stay healthy and in control of our health condition we have to stay in tune with our natural sleep cycle. I struggle with going to bed at a reasonable hour, but I do know, that when I go to bed at 9:30PM instead of 1AM I feel my best. We just have to be aware of what is good for sleep and start not practicing the things that prevent us from getting good sleep.
Susanna Page is a student in San Francisco, CA. She loves to write and is a blogger for Young Minds Advocacy Project and the International Bipolar Foundation. She is a field mental advocate for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. She loves to write about mental health and young adults. She is in the beginning stages of connecting with University newspapers in colleges in San Francisco persuading each University to include a column in every issue that has some form of mental health information or personal story of someone that is living with a mental illness. On her free time she likes to adventure around San Francisco, write, and cuddle with her dog Hamish.