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Jennifer C Kanady, Adriane M Soehnera and Allison G Harvey
Background: Sleep disturbance is a prevalent and clinically significant feature of bipolar disorder. However, there are aspects of sleep and bipolar disorder that have been minimally characterized. This study aims to fill several gaps in the literature by examining the prevalence, coexistence, and persistence of sleep disturbance retrospectively across a five-year period in bipolar disorder.
Methods: Fifty-one people with bipolar disorder I and comorbid insomnia who were currently inter-episode completed the NIMH Retrospective Life-Charting Methodology (the life chart). The life chart was used to document the prevalence, coexistence, and persistence of insomnia, hypersomnia, delayed sleep phase, reduced sleep need, and irregular sleep patterns across the course of five years.
Results: Across the five year period, manic months were primarily characterized by reduced sleep need (62.8%) and insomnia (38.1%), depressive months by hypersomnia (56.0%) and insomnia (51.9%), mixed months by all five types of sleep disturbance, and inter-episode months by insomnia (67.4%). There was coexistence in the types of sleep disturbance experienced. Further, each type of sleep disturbance demonstrated persistence across the five years, with persistence rates being the highest for insomnia (49.0–58.8%).
Conclusions: Sleep disturbance is a prevalent and complex feature across mood episodes and inter-episode periods of bipolar disorder. Further, there is variation in the types of sleep disturbance experienced.