Bipolarlife Newsletter April 2019

Issue 111

April 2019

Bipolar Life Victoria

Upcoming Support Groups Meetings

click group location for further information

click group location for further information


Bipolarlife Victoria is running a series of Bipolar Information nights in Melbourne in 2019. We aim to educate communities and individuals about bipolar, particularly with the undiagnosed. Christine Culhane, pharmacist of the Mental Health Research Institute will also be lecturing at this evening on psychotropic drugs with a lot of time allocated for questions.

Partners, family and friends and any others interested are welcome at these evenings. Click INFO for further information.

We are concurrently running a series of Bipolar Workshops planned in 2019 with a primary focus on self help strategies for people with bipolar disorder. For further information about these Bipolar Workshops click here – WS

Bipolar books
We have recently purchased a large quantity of bipolar related books and are currently distributing them to all our support groups. These books can be borrowed free of charge by our support group members.


Sleep and Sleep Cycles


Usually sleepers pass through five stages: 1, 2, 3, 4 and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. These stages progress cyclically from 1 through REM then begin again with stage 1. A complete sleep cycle takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes, with each stage lasting between 5 to 15 minutes. The first sleep cycles each night have relatively short REM sleeps and long periods of deep sleep but later in the night, REM periods lengthen and deep sleep time decreases.

What Are the Stages of Sleep?

There are five stages of sleep. Stages 1-4 are non-REM sleep, followed by REM sleep.


Stage 1 is light sleep where you drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily. In this stage, the eyes move slowly and muscle activity slows. During this stage, many people experience sudden muscle contractions preceded by a sensation of falling.


In stage 2, eye movement stops and brain waves become slower with only an occasional burst of rapid brain waves. The body begins to prepare for deep sleep, as the body temperature begins to drop and the heart rates slows.


When a person enters stage 3, extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are interspersed with smaller, faster waves. This is deep sleep. It is during this stage that a person may experience sleepwalking, night terrors, talking during one’s sleep, and bedwetting. These behaviors are known as parasomnias, and tend to occur during the transitions between non-REM and REM sleep.


In stage 4, deep sleep continues as the brain produces delta waves almost exclusively. People roused from this state feel disoriented for a few minutes.


During REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, brain waves mimic activity during the waking state. The eyes remain closed but move rapidly from side-to-side, perhaps related to the intense dream and brain activity that occurs during this period.Most vivid dreams happen in this stage. Body does not move. If awakened, person will claim they were never asleep.

What Is a Sleep Cycle?

After REM sleep, the individual returns to the stage of light sleep and begins a new cycle. As the night progresses, individuals spend increasingly more time in REM sleep and correspondingly less time in deep sleep.

How long is a sleep cycle?

The first sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes. After that, they average between 100 to 120 minutes. Typically, an individual will go through four to five sleep cycles a night.

What Is Deep Sleep?

Stages 3 and 4 are referred to as deep sleep, slow wave sleep, or delta sleep. It is very difficult to wake someone from them. Children are nearly impossible to wake up from this stage, and may be prone to bedwetting, sleepwalking or night terrors. In deep sleep, there is no eye movement or muscle activity.

Deep sleep reduces your sleep drive, and provides the most restorative sleep of all the sleep stages. This is why if you take a short nap during the day, you’re still able to fall asleep at night. But if you take a nap long enough to fall into deep sleep, you have more difficulty falling asleep at night because you reduced your need for sleep.

During deep sleep, human growth hormone is released and restores your body and muscles from the stresses of the day. Your immune system restores itself. Much less is known about deep sleep than REM sleep. It may be during this stage that the brain also refreshes itself for new learning the following day.

When Does REM Sleep Occur?

Slow wave sleep comes mostly in the first half of the night, REM in the second half. REM sleep typically begins about 90 minutes after you first fall asleep, with the first REM cycle lasting about 10 minutes. Each successive REM cycle last longer, with the final REM stage lasting up to 1 hour. Most people experience three to five intervals of REM sleep each night.

Waking may occur after REM.  If the waking period is long enough, the person may remember it the next morning. Short awakenings may disappear with amnesia.

In the REM period, breathing becomes more rapid, irregular and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly and limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Brain waves during this stage increase to levels experienced when a person is awake. Also, heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, males develop erections and the body loses some of the ability to regulate its temperature.

In What Stage of Sleep Do Dreams Occur?

REM sleep is the time when the most vivid dreams occur, because the brain is so active during this stage. If awoken during REM sleep, a person can remember the dreams.

Muscle paralysis often accompanies REM sleep. Scientists believe this may be to help prevent us from injury while trying to act out our dreams.

A person may dream 4 to 6 times each night. A French study found that all people do in fact dream, whether they remember their dreams or not.

How Your Sleep Cycle Changes With Age

The different cycles of sleep last for different amounts of time during the night. Non-REM sleep dominates the first half of the night, while the amount of time spent in REM stage sleep increases during the second half.

The amount of time you spend in each stage also depends on your age.

Infants spend almost 50% of their time in REM sleep. Adults spend nearly half of sleep time in stage 2, about 20% in REM and the other 30% is divided between the other three stages. Older adults spend progressively less time in REM sleep.

Our Stories

Beth’s Story

I didn’t have any history of mental ill health until 2010, when I had depression and was prescribed Prozac. A year later, a series of events led me to become manic and psychotic: my relationship ended, I moved house, I experienced bullying at work for four years, was promoted and I needed to have my nose reconstructed following a sporting injury.

I became ‘hyper’ but initially neither me nor my friends thought that anything was wrong as I had always been very lively and active. My boss realised that something was wrong and called my parents in order to take me to the doctors.

At this time, my mania led me to believe that I was immortal and the sister of Jesus. Because of this mania I was given drugs to bring me down, but the high dosage caused me to become very depressed and I was hospitalised for six weeks.

It was at this stage that bipolar disorder was diagnosed. After leaving hospital, I lived with my parents where I didn’t leave my bed for two weeks and stopped eating. It took me the next eight months to get better after care and encouragement from my step dad and my mum.

I returned to my job as an office manager at an internet publishing company but found that my colleagues’ attitude to me changed: they didn’t know how to respond. They seemed to be walking on egg shells around me, and were unsure about the kind of work that they should give me. My boss started to scrutinise my work and to undermine me. I left the company soon after.

I experienced further manic episodes in 2012, 2013, 2014. After two and a half years without a further episode, I became manic in November 2016 caused by the stress of worrying about my sister who was ill and not sleeping for three nights. This time I had a lot of negativety around me and have weird spiritual feelings, I quickly recovered: I’m convinced that my decision to stop drinking, give up smoking and to change my lifestyle helped me to get over the last attack and recover quicker.

In 2018 I experienced another manic negative episode and I thought aliens were on the planet, I was fighting some invisible beings like Neo out of the Matrix. I had prepared my new boyfriend as to what may happen so he was all armed and equipped! He took me to hospital and I spent a week recovering.

In May 2018 I started working with young people with learning difficulties and declared my mental health history. They were brilliant and took me for who I was. It was a real eye opener working in a different field .. I take my hat off to carers!

I then became very excitable again and felt this time a positive energy around me – I wanted to help and change the world again. (not a bad thing I suppose) I went to see my doctor straight away and he increased my medication. It took a while to kick in and I ended up spending $4,000 on my partner’s credit card – whoops ! I recovered quickly again and went to work locally – less stress.

Over the years I have become used to being Bipolar and I’m aware it will always be a part of my life. I complete daily exercise which helps and have also found group and individual counselling sessions to be very helpful.

I feel that now is the right time to share my story and experiences, to help reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. I want to help other people not to make the mistakes I made and to realise that to manage their condition they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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