Role Sleep Deficit has in BP
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Q:  Role Sleep Deficit has in BP

On your web page under the "Biological Clocks & Bipolar" section, you talk about the role darkness has in the treatment of Bipolar disorder.  How does this differ from using controlled sleep deprivation to "reset" your biological &/or psychological clock?  Has there been much research on the role sleep deficit has on Bipolar disorder?  Thanks in advance!

Dear Rebecca -- 
Glad you found that.  This is not really resetting the clock, as is used for people with "phase shift" problems; but rather resetting the sensitivity of the clock itself.  We know for sure that sleep deprivation is pro-manic, i.e. shifts people with bipolar disorder away from depression and toward more "manic-side" symptoms, although remember these aren't clearly "polar opposites" in most circumstances -- they just seem to act like it here in the case of sleep effects.  And clearly some sort of sleep disturbance, though we don't know what, is integral to the very nature of bipolar disorder, as almost everyone with this illness has something wrong with their sleep patterns over time.   You're welcome; I know that isn't much to go on.  Wish we knew more.  Isn't that clock stuff amazing, though?

Dr. Phelps  

Published September, 2001


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