Brain fog may not be an actual medical condition itself, but that doesn’t mean it can’t affect people on a daily basis. Brain fog is a type of cognitive dysfunction that can result in problems with logic, a lack of mental clarity, poor concentration, difficulty recalling memories and inability to focus. Depending on the severity of brain fog, people can experience difficult work or school days. They often describe it as feeling mentally fatigued because it affects their ability to think, they often feel confused and disorganized and they may find it hard to focus or put their thoughts into words.
Usually, brain fog occurs because the brain is not being powered with what it needs, causing it to slow down. It can also result from medication or a medical condition that is affecting the various cells and other tissues of the brain. Although there are many different causes, they all make you not feel like yourself, can affect your work and relationships and, in turn, affect your self-esteem.
The good news is, some simple adjustments to your personal lifestyle and diet can help with this, however, it can be far more difficult to overcome, and can even be a sign of something serious. Let’s look at some causes of brain fog.
This is perhaps one of the most common reasons for brain fog. Poor sleep habits like irregular sleep and wakening times, getting less than 7 hours of sleep and blue light exposure before bed, all disrupt your internal body clock. Although it’s ideal for most people to aim for 8-9 hour of sleep per night, there are many lifestyle factors that stand in the way. Many people work late hours, some stay up too late gaming or watching TV and others are parents (especially with newborns) who are unable to get the amount of sleep they need. Getting more sleep isn’t an easy thing to always do, but trying to improve sleep habits may help with poor concentration and cloudy thoughts that result from a lack of it. Anything less than 7-8 hours of sleep can disturb your memory and concentration because your energy levels have a direct effect on brain functioning. Good sleep allows your brain to rest and recover so it can function at its best. Although certain factors cannot change the amount of sleep we get, there are some things you can do. If you are a late night gamer, try setting an alarm that tells you to go to sleep. If you are a parent, try nap when the kids nap or look into sleep training children so even your little one can benefit from a good night’s sleep. It’s also important to note that hitting the snooze button only increases the likelihood of you falling asleep, only to be disrupted again.
Diet significantly impacts our overall health, and it also plays a role in brain fog. Diets high in processed and sugared products may be seen as “trigger foods” that increase brain fog symptoms and the likelihood if it developing. You need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, but vitamin B12 is especially important for maintaining healthy nerves and blood for a healthy brain function that allows us to think clearly. Foods rich in vitamin B12 are beef, liver, chicken, fish and shellfish such as trout, salmon, tuna and clams, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, milk, yogurt and cheese. The antioxidant qualities of Ginkgo Biloba make it a favored substance for those who want to boost their memory. Although major diet changes may feel overwhelming, it’s important to remember that you only need to start with small changes to reap the benefits. Removing processed and sugary foods from your diet slowly or adding one vitamin B12 rich food choice to your daily menu are small, achievable steps that lead to healthy diet changes for a lifetime.
Hormonal changes can have a powerful impact on the overall functioning of the body. Hormones affect our mood and the way we think and they help to ensure our bodily processes are running smoothly. When we experience a disturbance in the balance of hormonal levels, it can result in some unwelcome symptoms, including brain fog. Perimenopause, menopause, menstruation, a change in birth control, pregnancy, or just unexpected changes in our environment and lifestyle all cause your body to go through a hormonal transition or re-setting of its hormonal balance. This can, in turn, affect memory and changes in cognition skills, cause forgetfulness, bring sleep deprivation, cause poor concentration and foggy thinking. There are many things you can do to ease your symptoms. Eating a healthier diet free of processed, sugary foods, indulge cravings in moderation, limit caffeine (coffee and soda) intake, boost your omega-3s and drink more pure water and green tea. Some women benefit from evening primrose oil, increasing their vitamin C and taking multi B vitamin.
Brain fog can be frustrating, but relief is possible. Never ignore your symptoms and seek treatment so you can improve your mental clarity for a lifetime.