Dr. Jim Phelps of PsychEducation.org keeps track of just about every kind of therapy, proven and emerging, medicinal and not, for bipolar disorders. Most of us are now familiar with the use of light therapy for winter depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but have you considered the use of darkness for mania, or regulating exposure to dark and light to control bipolar cycling? Light therapy, after all, can trigger manic episodes, so why not the reverse?
Light and Dark Therapies is a simple explanation of the principles involved in light regulation. It discusses the difference between blue and yellow light, talks about circadian rhythms, the role of lithium, regulating sleep cycles, and more.
Dark Therapy is an unusual treatment for mania that involves enforcing total darkness for 14 hours a day; though results have not been replicated in research studies the one case report is quite interesting.
Less extreme, though, is simply managing your exposure to light, and being aware of what type of light it is. Blue light emanates from your TV and computer screen — try a yellow filter for the screen or wear yellow glasses to cut down at night, and don’t use a nightlight unless it’s yellow. These and other commonsense tips are what Dr. Phelps is great at communicating. Have a look around the rest of his site while you’re there, including his book Why Am I Still Depressed?.
Edit: Please read all the helpful comments on this post, with some great info credited to Janet Raloff from Science News Online: part 1 and part 2. Thank you to Hank Roberts for his tireless research, too.