The RAS, or Reticular Activating System, controls whether you are awake or asleep; focused or distracted. An RAS working inadequately has been linked to mental health problems, learning disabilities, dementia and related conditions, and sleep disorders.
The Reticular Activating System, found in the brain stem, is present in all mammals. Understanding it better could enable the mental and physical health communities to better treat certain conditions. Better understanding in the public might prevent several such illnesses and conditions from taking root at all.
Relationship with the Nervous System
Interruptions to this part of the brain cause varied symptoms related to reflexes, posture, concentration, and more. Someone with a healthy system is able to sleep when it’s night time and stay awake during the day. He does not fall asleep at odd times and his muscles are under control, not twitching for no apparent reason. He is able to study at school and come away with enough information, but not too much because the RAS also controls how much information the brain takes in from the many thousands of stimuli available.
This part of the brain is also linked to the glands regulating metabolism and hormone production. Chiropractic treatment can potentially release pinched nerves which might be playing their part in the disruption of sleep or concentration, causing pain and uncontrolled movement, even resulting in emotional problems.
Conditions Related to RAS Interruption
Narcolepsy is a condition in which the individual falls asleep spontaneously, without warning, perhaps while cooking or driving. People with Parkinson’s Disease cannot control their muscles very well, including those of their hands, legs, and face. This makes it difficult to drive, walk, and to communicate.
Some mental illnesses such as depression are related to the Reticular Activating System, perhaps stemming from lack of energy or disruptions to sleep patterns. If disruption affects glands, this could also be a result of imbalanced hormones regulating moods. ADD is a disorder which causes one to have trouble concentrating and is an obstacle to many young students.
Programming the RAS
Some people believe it is possible to use a healthy, functioning Reticular Activating System to influence thoughts positively or negatively. They believe this part of the brain is susceptible to suggestions of capability or inadequacy, joy or a low mood, success or failure.
Self-help writers believe in harnessing this system to train readers to think positively in order to achieve whatever they want. They have written blogs and books devoted to teaching people that they can control their financial, spiritual, and relational success by regularly talking about happiness and envisioning it in very specific ways.
Feeding the Reticular Activating System
Another train of thought indicates that the RAS is susceptible to nutritional deficiencies or proper nourishment as well. It is possible to deprive this part of the brain stem with a diet lacking in foods affecting metabolism, moods, and brain function.
Restoring or initiating proper working order can be achieved by introducing fatty fish into the diet such as salmon and mackerel, including a Vitamin-B complex among supplements, and providing a healthy menu of low-fat, nutritious foods plus probiotics to encourage efficient uptake from the GI Tract.
Supplements like omega fatty acids and an age-appropriate multi-vitamin can be of great help to someone with a disorder linked to Reticular Activating System issues. Doctors will, of course, want to rule out any physical problem affecting this area — such as tumor — as well.