Sleep and BPD

Do you find it hard to sleep or even can’t sleep at night?

Sleep and Health

Sleep is a basic human need. It is a vital activity that sustains and restores our body. Although researchers do not fully understand the benefits of sleep, it is understood to help give rest to our brain, muscles and organs.

Orange Cat Sleeping on White Bed
Credit: Pexels – Александар Цветановић

Sleep and BPD

Research has found that people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) had a greater rate of nightmares, higher levels of anxiety and impaired sleep quality compared to healthy people [1]. Disturbed sleep greatly affects our daily functioning, as they will likely lead to difficulty concentration and memory, and negative work outcome [2][3]. Moreover, sleep loss may result in poor health, as it has been linked to increase risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes with an observed adverse effect on metabolism and hormonal processes [4].

Heart-shaped Red Neon Signage
Credit: Designecologist

Sleep is different for everyone

  • The amount of sleep for each person varies. Some people like myself need more and some people need sleep to function throughout the day
  • On average adults need 8 hours of sleep a night

When we do not get enough sleep…

Sleep disturbances affect our behaviours, our moods, or educational and activities of daily living.

  • Difficulty concentrating, decision making, vigilance
  • Reduced ability to cope with stress
  • Reduced mood, contributing to mental ill-health
  • Reduced ability to complete basic tasks
  • Increased risk of injury to self e.g. car accidents, taking the wrong medication,
  • Increased levels of agitation and frustration
  • Longer-term issues: increased cardiovascular disease, increased mental health issues.

These can all contribute

  • Decreased social engagement with others
  • Relationship conflicts
  • Difficulties concentrating at work leading to mistakes
  • Increased difficulty looking after ourselves
  • Decreased motivation
Woman Wearing Black Bra and White Tank Top Raising Both Hands on Top
Credit: Tirachard Kumtanom

Key terms

Sleep Hygiene: the things we do during the day or before bed to promote our sleep. (e.g. our routines, our sleep wake cycle, if we nap during the day, the set up on the bedroom)

Disturbed sleep patterns: State in which a client experiences a change in the quantity or quality of one’s rest pattern that causes discomfort or interferes with a desired lifestyle

Insomnia: The state in which a client reports a persistent pattern of difficulty falling asleep and frequent awakening that disrupts daytime life

Sleep Deprivation: State in which a client experiences prolonged periods of time without sustained, natural, periodic states of relative unconsciousness


  1. How does lack of sleep impact your health?
  2. How does enough restful sleep impact your health?

Feel free to discuss in the OT for BPD Facebook group your thoughts on these questions.

Source: Redeker, N., & McEnany, Geoffry Phillips. (2011). Sleep disorders and sleep promotion in nursing practice. New York: Springer Pub.

References and Additional Resources:

[1] Semiz, U. B., Basoglu, C., Ebrinc, S., & Cetin, M. (2008). Nightmare disorder, dream anxiety, and subjective sleep quality in patients with borderline personality disorder. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 62(1), 48-55. 

[2] Ram, S., Seirawan, H., Kumar, S. K., & Clark, G. T. (2010). Prevalence and impact of sleep disorders and sleep habits in the United States. Sleep and Breathing, 14(1), 63-70. 
[3] Swanson, L. M., Arnedt, J. T., Rosekind, M. R., Belenky, G., Balkin, T. J., & Drake, C. (2011). Sleep disorders and work performance: Findings from the 2008 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll. Journal of sleep research, 20(3), 487-494. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2010.00890.x
[4] Van Cauter, E., Spiegel, K., Tasali, E., & Leproult, R. (2008). Metabolic consequences of sleep and sleep loss. Sleep medicine, 9, 23-28. 


Published by OT Trauma Tools

Founder Mental health Advocate; Phd Candidate; Occupational Therapy Teacher and Researcher Australia “As an occupational therapist diagnosed with BPD I will use this page to share about the various interventions and strategies that are helpful to those with BPD. I will also share about the positive and sometimes challenging approaches that health professionals have used in my treatment in emergency, inpatient, outpatient and community settings. I hope that by sharing my lived experience I can help improve the experience of those struggling to understand Borderline Personality Disorders (BPD) and also support those living with BPD and other mental health challenges Most importantly we will share how occupation can powerfully help change lives!" Laura

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