Living with bi-polar sleep patterns is like navigating the ocean’s waves. The idea is to stay close to shore where there is gentle, safe ebbing and flowing between hypersomnia and insomnia. At least a hundred different things could drag you farther out to sea, where the undertow of sleep deprivation and extended sleep threaten to pull you helplessly into instability. Even farther still, the waves become larger and your sanity simply cannot rudder through. Instead, you are crushed under the weight of the changes in your body and you fight for a single breath of consistency.
Every night is fraught with tension. The question: Will I be able to sleep, or will I be up all night? Every day is a conundrum: Do I dare nap, or will that be too much sleep? Medication helps with insomnia, making you drowsy. This allows for the simple freestyle stroke that keeps you close and parallel to shore. When hypersomnia hits though, it is all willpower and discipline – this is the butterfly on open waters. The wading in placid tide pools of balanced sleep is so seldom experienced it often feels nowhere near on the horizon.
There is danger and beauty in this world of balancing sleep. Normal dreams are a coral reef, providing a glamorous show of life in a mild-tempered sea. Too many dreams become the predators, lurking in dark water, awaiting their next meal. Not having enough dreams is riding out a tropical storm in a rowboat on high seas. To have balanced sleep patterns is like drinking a fine wine, watching the most beautiful sunset off the port bow.
There are things I can do to minimize disruption in sleep patterns, but it remains a complicated task of which I am frequently incapable. I try to eat right, exercise, take all medications on time, establish set bedtimes and activity periods and enjoy the little things in life. Nothing brings it home to me though, like a day at the beach.