The Gift of a Toxic Brain Cleanse

When I was young and full of life… Ha! That is too bleak. Look at me and my impulsive way to start this. Well, it’s true. If you want to skip my rantings, go straight to “An Amazing Gift”.

When I was young and full of life, I found myself working as a waitress to make money and help with the expenses during my last semester of college, which for me was student teaching. In a way, I had two jobs- I was essentially teaching and waitressing. I often would be going to bed at 2am and waking up at 6:30 am.

I remember telling myself to not forgot “these tired years”. I had an ignorant and kind of dumb, youthful mind that got some sort of rush from the lack of sleep I got. I would brag about minimal sleep and seemingly functioning fine.

When I became pregnant, I thought I would be fine too. I took in the sleep deprivation warnings and kind of laughed in the face of danger. I thought I could handle it. I thought I understood tired.

It turns out. I cannot really handle it. It has been 5 years of sleep that has been very interrupted. I don’t keep track of anything with sleep anymore. It’s not good to dwell in the shadows of the broken sleep. I cannot say I suffer from chronic depression or anxiety because I know there is a lot more others go through than me. But, I do feel pretty broken some days and just cannot get myself to feel right.

I think a lot of parents joke about it. I do. I cope with laughter, but really it can be hard. I have shrugged it off, gone about the day, but sometimes am just consumed with shortcomings and wondering, “What is wrong with me?” when I would snap too quickly, not be able to keep track of things, or just feel like things are spinning out of control.

I have started to come to terms with the mistake of shrugging off the sleep. I heard about a study of the need for deep sleep for our brains to SHRINK and CLEAN THEMSELVES!

I will site two very interesting reads: “Sleep Shrinks the Brain” and “Brain Sweep Themselves Clean of Toxins During Sleep”.

The key points to make my points of these articles are the following:

The team discovered that this increased flow was possible in part because when mice went to sleep, their brain cells actually shrank, making it easier for fluid to circulate. When an animal woke up, the brain cells enlarged again and the flow between cells slowed to a trickle. “It’s almost like opening and closing a faucet,” Nedergaard says. “It’s that dramatic.”

..this fluid was carrying away waste products that build up in the spaces between brain cells.

~ “Brain Sweep Themselves Clean of Toxins During Sleep”.

“They found that a few hours of sleep led to an 18 percent decrease in the size of the synapses on average.”

~ “Sleep Shrinks the Brain”

The sleep deprivation and many nights of waking up just as you think you are about to fall asleep, is not allowing for much needed full cycles of deep sleep. I think our brains are literally toxic. The anxiety, the depression, the moodiness, and all of the other things making us weep with a feeling sometimes of helplessness. There are no easy answers, but I do feel I have a chemical scapegoat to place some blame on. Really, a gift of a good night’s sleep though… I can dream of that.

An Amazing Gift Idea

I kind of want a lot for Christmas. I want to get a full night’s sleep or a chance to sleep in. There is some fine print I have been thinking about that would be needed to deliver such a gift properly. This gift is an “I owe you”. It could be written as such in a card. Let’s be realistic that there just isn’t going to be much sleep in these next weeks before Christmas. There is just too much to do. So, this Christmas gift needs to be a well-thought-out, collaborative effort where if you choose to give it, would be an “I owe you” with some serious commitments. Pick the few days too, so it happens. Mark them on your calendar, so you do not forget. A consultation date would be nice too (read the fine print 3). I have written the fine pint of the gift of “A FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP” I dream about:

1.) The gift has two or three nights in a row of attempts built in. The ability to sleep uninterupted can be quite the novelty with shock as a side effect. Taking this possible side effect into account, this gift is actually a few nights opportunity in order to help the success rate.

2.) The gift needs to be an all-in agreement. There will be no half-hearted waking up AND no audible grumbling, cussing, moaning, or cranky noises. Being cranky those few nights of doing this will very likely counter the efforts being made.

3.) A consultation is included in this gift. On a chosen date, we will sit down before the actual delivery of this gift and TALK about how we can try to manage any anxiety and oddly some insomnia because of a toxic brain running on low fuel. This is a collaborative and premeditated effort to try to work with you to get a deserved night’s sleep. Tell me what you need? What is on your plate I can help you with? I will cook dinners that week and we can eat out. No cooking and cleaning for you. I’ll keep the laundry at bay too. Tell me what else weighs on you.

4.) I appreciate all you do. You know, I don’t even know, how much you do- because a lot of it is in literally in the dark while I am unconscious.

Here is just one present idea! I know. I am that girl that wants something special wrapped beneath the tree. But, like I said, lack of sleep is shrugged off and it really should not be. If you are having a hard time or you know someone having a hard time, maybe this could be a very special gift.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels



  1. I missed this! I love this, Erin and hope you got your gift. Matter of fact, I think you should get that gift all the time and maybe you can have an agreement for every week. Sleep is so important, especially when you are a mom with little ones. My mother gave me a fit bit versa and I have been checking my sleep patterns every day. I did not realize the importance of the different parts of sleep and now the first thing I do every morning is check to see my pattern and sleep score. Let me know how you are doing! Love and hugs. xoxo


    1. I have heard of these apps and the ability to check your sleep patterns. I always was in the mind set it was better for me to not know. Maybe, someday I will invest though. Sleeping HAS gotten better though for me. I did sit down to talk with my husband about something needing to change because I was just feeling spent. It took me over an hour most nights to get our 1 year old to sleep, trying to establish a routine. He would wake up a couple times through the night and same thing. My husband took on the task to put the baby down, and wouldn’t you know!? The first night the kid went down in 15 minutes!! Now, we have a routine, and when the baby wakes up, my husband walks in and the baby just knows to just lay down and go back to sleep!!! When I walk in, it is up time. Crazy how kids associate and will do things with certain people. xoxo!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kids know at a very young age, that they can take advantage of their mom! We are suckers for a cute face. xoxo


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