Brain Fog 101

Do you feel like your brain is constantly foggy? When you try to think, does it feels like someone put a thick blanket on top of your head and smothered the thoughts right out of your brain? If so, you’re not alone! You’re experiencing what’s called brain fog.

It can be caused by many things, including sleep deprivation, dehydration, lack of exercise, or even stress. It’s important that once you find out the cause, that you take steps to treat and reduce its severity to increase productivity.

This post will go over all these different causes and how to boost productivity for people who are struggling with brain fog symptoms.

My experience with brain fog

I used to experience brain fog daily. My mind felt so cloudy that I would need excessive amounts of coffee or diet coke to make it through my day. I struggled to stay focused in conversations. My partner pointed out how much sugar I consumed daily. It made me alert for a few hours, then I’d crash again afterwards. It got so bad that that I sometimes questioned if it was dangerous for me to drive.

wizard of oz brain GIF
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I realized my lifestyle needed to change. I made some huge shifts, which I’ll discuss more in this post. As a result, I started to feel better emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Life became more enjoyable as the days passed by without feeling drained or sluggish. Suddenly everything seemed so much easier!

Symptoms of brain fog

Brain fog is a feeling of mental confusion or lack of focus caused by many different things. Some people experience it after sleep deprivation. Others will get it from low blood sugar levels (usually due to skipping breakfast). And some may have periods where they feel mentally exhausted without any apparent cause.

Brain fog can feel like you’re in a mental haze or that your mind is fuzzy and unresponsive. It’ll be hard to concentrate on tasks, make decisions, or remember things. You may also have trouble comprehending what others are saying if they talk too fast for you to follow along easily.

What’s causing your brain fog?

Doctors are still researching the causes of brain fog, but many people experience it after sleep deprivation or skipping breakfast. Some scientists and doctors believe that brain fog is caused by low blood sugar levels from not eating enough calories early in the day. Others think it’s a sign of hypoglycemia. 

Some other common causes of brain fog include:

Pregnancy

Pregnant women often experience brain fog, but there’s not one known cause. Some scientists and doctors believe that the drastic hormone changes during pregnancy can lead to a racing heart rate and low blood pressure, which can affect your thinking skills.

Menopause

As many as 50% of women experience brain fog in menopause, which is often characterized by forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating.

Low iron levels

Low iron can lead to anemia, a condition that may cause fatigue and dizziness while also interfering with your memory skills.

Allergies

People with allergies may experience brain fog due to the inflammation in their bodies. They report experiencing it when they have allergies to pollen, mold, or animal dander.

Thyroid disorders

Some people with an underactive thyroid struggle to remember things because their hormones are not functioning well.

Low blood sugar levels

Low blood sugar can result in brain fog and memory problems. This is especially challenging for people whose bodies cannot produce glucose at regular rates.

Alcohol

Alcohol can lead to brain fog, especially when consumed on an empty stomach. It may also happen when alcohol abuse causes serious liver damage.

Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep, or insomnia, can contribute to reduced cognitive function and memory problems because the body has not had enough time to recharge its batteries.

Anxiety

Certain types of anxiety, such as panic attacks or a generalized anxiety disorder, can cause brain fog.

Stress

Stress can lead to a fog in many different ways. It could cause depression, anxiety, or be one of the symptoms caused by brain fog itself. 

The body produces cortisol in response to mental and physical strain. When we are under a lot of pressure for long periods, there will be an increase in this hormone release.

Depression 

Brain fog is a frequent symptom of depression. When you are depressed, it can be hard to concentrate on anything, including day-to-day cognitive tasks such as remembering where you put your shoes or focusing on the words from someone who’s talking to you.

Covid-19 is also associated with brain fog in some people. 

Many other medical issues can result in brain fog. Suppose none of the above causes ring true. In that case, I highly encourage you to seek medical advice from your doctor and explore if there is a deeper, underlying medical condition.

How to get rid of brain fog

There are many reasons why we feel brain fog, but one thing is for sure: it’s not fun. It can be challenging to remember what our goals were or how we planned on accomplishing them in the first place.

It’s a struggle for so many people, fighting to stay focused when their brain feels like it’s in a fog. The good news is that there are some things you can do to clear your mind and get out of the haze.

1. Eat a healthy diet

Eating a diet high in healthy fats, including Omega-three fatty acids, is important for brain health. In addition to this, your body needs a balance of protein and carbohydrates to function correctly.

Protein helps with forming memories and repairing the brain, while carbs provide energy for thinking. If you are eating too few calories, you may not have enough brainpower to complete tasks.

Sugar and other unhealthy food can impact cognitive function, so it is helpful to cut back on them. A balanced diet will help you think clearer and feel better.

2. Get enough sleep

Focusing on sleep is vital for brain health. Your body needs rest to function correctly, and your brain is no exception.

Studies have shown that not sleeping enough can cause a decline in memory-related functions due to a lack of energy metabolism in the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for learning).

It’s crucial that you get an appropriate amount of sleep each night. Experts recommend that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

3. Exercise regularly

Studies have shown the impact of exercise on cognitive function. It increases blood flow throughout your body, including your brain, which helps clear away toxins from our neural pathways so we can think clearly!

Regular physical activity will help improve your ability to focus and will help to improve your mood. Even if it’s just a ten-minute walk outside, it’s important that you get up and move around.

4. Try to reduce stress

This might not be easy, but it is necessary. Any form of prolonged stress can lead to brain fog because it’s taxing the central nervous system. Our bodies’ response to fight or flight situations can make your body feel like it’s running amok.

When stressed, our sympathetic branch becomes activated to release hormones and chemicals to make us more alert. This is great in a fight or flight situation, but it can result in brain fog in everyday life!

If you are unable to reduce stressful circumstances, try meditation or mindfulness. It’s shown that people who meditate regularly experience less brain fog than those who don’t. The popular mindfulness app, Headspace, is touted to work wonders.

5. Drink plenty of water

Brain fog is often the result of dehydration. Drinking plenty of water will help your body heal and recover faster and reduce some common symptoms such as headaches or fatigue.

If you don’t like drinking water, try adding a slice of lemon or some cucumber to the water you drink. There are also hydration supplements, like Liquid IV, that you can add to your water, providing essential electrolytes.

6. Take supplements for brain health and focus

Many supplements claim to help, but it’s important to find out which ones are best for you.

For example, L-Theanine is a supplement many people take when they want to be more relaxed and focused. It can also reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Also, supplements like fish oil or algae-based Omega supplements can help a lot with brain fog.

Before taking any supplements, make sure to talk with your medical doctor and research the best way these supplements can help you. Some of them have side effects or other possible interactions which must be taken into account.

Be kind to yourself.

The first step to reducing brain fog is realizing that it’s not just you. It takes a lot of patience and practice understanding what your body needs for your cognitive functions to be at their best.

I hope that you can reduce or eliminate this feeling from your life with the right lifestyle changes. I encourage you to try out some of these tips next time your head feels cloudy or heavy – they may help! Leave me a comment below if any of these suggestions helped make sense again (or did anything!).

Medical Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This blog is not to be considered medical advice, or a substitute for medical treatment or guidance. Consultant with your doctor before making any important health-related decisions.