Restless Brain Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome garners much attention. Commercials warn viewers to see their health care professional if suffering from uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling in the legs. They warn that Restless Leg Syndrome may disrupt sleep and cause drowsiness during the day.

My inability to sleep has nothing to do with my legs or pain. Instead, I have what I’ve coined “Restless Brain Syndrome”. While not a real condition, it’s very real for me. My restless brain refuses to settle down and relax so that I can sleep. I can’t predict how I will be affected on any given night, but I can pretty much guarantee my sleep will be interrupted by an overactive brain.

Some nights Restless Brain Syndrome makes it impossible for me to fall asleep. At midnight, one, even two o’clock I wait for sleep to come. Other nights I fall asleep quickly but sometime between one and four find myself wide awake. On the very worst nights, I fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning only to awake an hour or two later. Restless Brain keeps me sleep deprived.

Instead of resting I can’t stop thinking. I think about things I should have done during the day. Things to do in the morning. Writing. Work. And I can worry about absolutely nothing so my brain has plenty of activity.

Suggestions for getting a better night’s sleep abound and I’ve tried many.

  • Make a to do list before you go to bed so you don’t think about what needs to be done.
  • Keep paper and pencil next to the bed so you can write down thoughts and get back to sleep.
  • Don’t drink caffeine.
  • Keep the bedroom cold.
  • Move electronics out of the bedroom.
  • Get up and do something quiet if you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes.
  • Exercise so your body’s tired.
  • Drink a glass of wine.

None of these have worked. I need to install an off switch so my brain can shut down and let me sleep.

I’m anxiously awaiting a solution to Restless Brain Syndrome. If I could only follow the advice of W.C. Fields,

The best cure for insomnia is a good night’s sleep.

I wish it were so easy!


Make Yourself #1

##1I think you’ll agree that I believe it’s important to take care of your loved ones. Hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to spend the rest of your life with your best friend as I have with Dad, and of course, you’ll want to be there for your partner. In addition, if you have children, you’ll be fiercely protective of them as you should be. And beyond that, you’ll feel responsibility for parents, extended family, and even special friends.

Today I want to remind you that despite the fact you may feel the need to take care of those you love, you need to make sure you take care of yourself and make sure you take care of your needs. I know  you’ve all heard the announcements made by flight attendants regarding emergency procedures on airplanes. They always instruct passengers flying with children to use the oxygen masks themselves before helping their children. This is essential. It isn’t possible to take care of your child in this emergency situation if you haven’t taken care of yourself, but people need to be reminded of this fact.

A mother bear would never make this mistake. The mother bear always eats first because she instinctively knows that if she doesn’t survive, her cubs have no chance at survival. Unfortunately, bears seem to be smarter than people in this respect.

Let the mother bear teach you a lesson. Take care of yourself.

  • Eat – not just junk, but healthy food, you’ll feel better.
  • Sleep – as hard as this may be, in order to feel well, you must sleep – it’s even been proven that lack of sleep causes illness, weight gain, and lack of mental clarity.
  • Exercise – even a short walk, stretching at your desk, or doing a few minutes of exercise when you get up in the morning will give you more energy.
  • Meditate – ok,  don’t “meditate” but give your brain a break – sit quietly for a few minutes every day. Meditation can lower blood pressure, stress,  and can even reduce pain.

While I think it’s important to take care of your loved ones, it’s essential that you make yourself your top priority. Only when you’re at your best, can you truly be there for others! So remember, you’re #1!


Get your beauty rest – sleep!

The excitement of Santa’s visit always made getting to sleep on Christmas Eve especially difficult when you were a child. I remember the panic in your voices when you would call me in your room and claim that you were unable to sleep. You asked if Santa would still come if you weren’t asleep. I tried to assure you that, yes, Santa would come; but I also assured you that you would fall asleep. Relax. Everything’s fine. Close your eyes. Sleep will come.

I wish it were so easy! While these words always worked when you were young, getting to sleep, staying asleep, and finding time to sleep aren’t as easy when you’re an adult.

I’m certainly no expert on sleep. In fact, I think I’ve done just about everything wrong when it comes to sleep, but I hope if you start now, you’ll develop good habits and improve your health as well.

So here’s my attempt to convince you that while it’s not always easy, you need to make time to sleep.

Did you know that driving when tired is just as dangerous as driving under the influence?

Did you know that getting only 5 hours of sleep per night increases your risk of developing diabetes by 50%?

Did you know that skin cells hydrate and renew themselves while you’re sleeping? (Thus, beauty sleep!)

Did you know that appetite hormones subside when you sleep?

Did you know that sleep deprivation increases your risk for heart disease and mood disorders?

Did you know that your body naturally craves sleep, food, and water; but lack of sleep causes your body to crave food, especially carbohydrates? (This is why getting the proper amount of sleep helps reduce weight gain.)

So here are a few tips to help you sleep better:

Don’t use electronics or watch TV in bed.

Sleep in a cool room, ideally about 65 degrees.

If you don’t fall asleep in 15 minutes, get up and do something else. You’ll stress yourself out just lying in bed trying to go to sleep. (Sounds like the problem you had on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa.)

Take a hot bath before going to bed, but don’t exercise close to bedtime – too much stimulation.

Keep your cell phone at least 3 feet from your bed and make sure you cannot see the light it emits or hear any sounds from your phone.

Go to bed seven and a half hours before you need to get up. This should enable you to get the 7 hours of sleep you need to be at your best in the morning.

And if a full night’s sleep isn’t possible, consider learning how to nap. A 20 minute power nap can provide a real brain boost.

Hope these tips help, and don’t worry…Santa will come…relax…close your eyes…you’ll fall asleep.