Should I take sleep medication if I have bipolar disorder?

Ruth White, MPH
Social Work
Despite all your best efforts, you may still have difficulty falling or staying asleep, and your provider may suggest taking sleep medications that will not only help you fall asleep but also help you stay asleep. Taking sleep medications is a preventive measure against bipolar episodes caused by sleep irregularities, and it reduces daytime drowsiness or irritation from lack of restful sleep.

Taking your prescribed sleep-inducing medications at your goal bedtime may be too late for them to take effect. Instead, after discussing this with your medical provider, you may want to take them about one to two hours before bedtime to give them time to take effect. Avoid over-the-counter sleep medications unless your medical provider recommends them and monitors your use of them, because they may interrupt your natural sleep routine or interact with other medications you're taking. You can take your sleep medications with sleep-inducing herbal tea, such as chamomile, or tepid water to assist in digesting them. This can become a regular part of your medication routine before bedtime.

Sleep is a major issue for people living with bipolar disorder, because changes in sleep habits may trigger a bipolar episode. Lots of people experience insomnia, because it's caused by many factors, including co-occurring conditions and certain medications and behaviors. Insomnia is both a cause and symptom of bipolar disorder, because you can have trouble falling asleep when depressed and need little sleep when manic, but it can be treated with changes in behavior, psychotherapy, or medications. Good sleep habits promote healthy sleep patterns and reduce the frequency and intensity of bipolar episodes.
Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

More About this Book

Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

After receiving a bipolar diagnosis, you need clear answers. Bipolar 101 is a straightforward guide to understanding bipolar disorder. It includes all the information you need to control your...

Continue Learning about Living With Bipolar Disorder

What does my family need to know about my bipolar disorder?
Tarique D. Periera, MDTarique D. Periera, MD
Family members should know that bipolar disorder is a lifelong disorder. In this video, Tarique Pere...
More Answers
How can bipolar disorder affect a person's ability to focus?
John Preston, PsyDJohn Preston, PsyD
Difficulties with focus, concentration, and attention can accompany all forms of mania and depressio...
More Answers
How does sleep affect bipolar disorder?
Sheri Van DijkSheri Van Dijk
Sleep is imperative for good health in general: we all know what it feels like when we haven't had a...
More Answers
How can I stabilize my moods if I have bipolar disorder?
Ruth White, MPHRuth White, MPH
Recognizing triggers and tracking your moods are two of the most useful tools for stabilizing yo...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.