Hold on, what was I talking about?
Darn it! Where did I leave my keys this time?
These statements might sound familiar to you. At some point, we’ve all had these or similar thoughts. Whether you’re unsure what you were talking about after an interruption or where you left your keys, brain lapses happen even to the best of us.
It’s called brain fog. And it can make you feel unlike yourself, affecting your work, relationships, and mental and emotional well-being. Especially when it becomes an everyday part of your life.
But what is chronic brain fog, and why does it happen?
Discover the answer to these and many more questions about brain fog. Plus, learn 5 easy ways that help you can start to overcome it.
What is brain fog?
Brain fog is a general term used to describe a type of cognitive dysfunction where a person experiences feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating.1 Brain fog is a common symptom many experience, particularly when tired or under stress. It can also be associated with various medical conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, and thyroid disorders.2 3 4 Feelings of brain fog may include memory challenges, a lack of clarity, poor concentration, mental fatigue, or even the ability to concentrate.
What are the symptoms of brain fog?
The symptoms of brain fog can vary from person to person. Still, some common symptoms include the following:
- Memory or recall problems
- Feeling mentally sluggish or slow
- Confusion or disorientation
- Struggling with decision-making or problem-solving
- Fatigue or low energy
- Irritability and mood swings
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
How does it feel to have brain fog?
Brain fog can significantly impact a person’s daily life, making it challenging to perform routine tasks, work efficiently, and engage in social activities. Brain fog can show up in various ways and is unique for each person.
For the most part, brain fog feels like your head is swimming. Like the lights are on, but there’s nobody home. Or that your once full brain is now filled with fluffy clouds.
You may be unable to concentrate as long as usual, making it difficult to focus on work, conversations, or even reading this blog. Many people share that making decisions, even small ones, becomes challenging. And that an increased intake of coffee, snacks, and alcohol are required to provide temporary relief from the fog. For some, experiencing severe, chronic brain fog, headaches, vision issues, and nausea can occur.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms or feelings associated with brain fog, talk with your healthcare provider so that you can work together to identify and address the underlying causes.
What causes brain fog?
Brain fog can be a symptom of a sleep disorder, bacterial overgrowth, nutrient deficiency, mental health condition, or even a side effect of a chronic condition. There are several possible causes of brain fog, including these most common examples:
- Poor Sleep. Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep, including irregular sleep and wake times or insufficient sleep, can interrupt the body’s use of melatonin and its natural detoxification process, leading to brain fog.5
- Chronic stress. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your body, constantly activating your fight-or-flight response. Diverting energy away from your body’s typical functions to focus on the stressor leaves your brain exhausted.6
- Depression and anxiety. Chronic anxiety or depression can impair cognitive function, impacting attention, memory, and executive function (the mental processes that allow us to plan, focus, and remember).7 This is likely due to the physiological effects of mental health conditions on the brain, including the loss of energy and motivation, which make it difficult to function properly.8
- Nutritional deficiencies. A lack of certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, or omega-3 fatty acids, can impair brain function by impairing your energy levels and cognitive function, contributing to your foggy feelings.9
- Food Sensitivities. Food sensitivities, such as gluten or dairy intolerance, can lead to cognitive dysfunction by impacting your inflammatory pathways.10
- Hormonal imbalances. Changes in hormone levels, such as those during pregnancy, the postpartum period, and menopause, can lead to brain fog while the body works to restore its natural hormone balance.11 12
- Medications. A common side effect of some medications, such as antihistamines, sleeping pills, and antidepressants, can include brain fog.
- Chronic health conditions. Chronic health conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, and thyroid conditions are all associated with brain fog.13
- Heavy metal exposure. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic can accumulate in the body over time and cause damage to the central nervous system, leading to common brain fog symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and confusion.14
Brain fog is often due to an underlying condition, environmental, or lifestyle factor, so it’s essential to identify and address the root cause to alleviate the symptoms.
5 Ways to Beat Chronic Brain Fog
Here are five easy ways to start overcoming your chronic brain fog:
1. Avoid Potential Triggers
Avoiding potential brain fog triggers as much as possible can help you reduce chronic brain fog. To get started, try avoiding toxins, heavy metals, environmental pollutants, and chemical additives in food.
2. Implement Healthy Sleep Habits
Getting enough, high-quality sleep is crucial for so many bodily functions. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night, so your body and brain get the rest they need. And if you’re having difficulty getting quality sleep, try establishing a regular bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol later in the day, limiting your blue light exposure in the evening, and creating a comfortable sleep environment.
3. Get Your Body Moving
Regular exercise is good for both your body and your brain. Routine physical activity can help improve your mood, reduce stress, and boost cognitive function. Find a way to get your body moving that feels good to you, and aim to do that activity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
4. Manage Your Stress
Knowing that chronic stress can cause brain fog makes it critical to find ways to manage your stress. Especially if you experience chronic, high levels of stress. Some effective stress-management techniques include mindfulness practices, meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and spending time in nature.
5. Support Your Mitochondria
Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouses” of our cells, as they produce energy in the form of ATP. Research suggests that supporting your mitochondria may help alleviate brain fog symptoms by helping restore their energy production.15 The first four suggestions for beating brain fog all help to support your mitochondria, but supplements such as vitamin C, selenium, zinc, CoQ10, magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid, acetylcysteine, fulvic acid, rhodiola, and glutathione may also help support your mitochondria function.
By implementing these strategies, you may be able to reduce or eliminate your chronic brain fog. However, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before significantly changing your diet or exercise routine.
Empower Your Brain Toward Optimal Function
Your brain’s health and ability to help you communicate, think, plan, and act are, in many ways, the epilogue of your organs’ functional interactions.
Bolstering and maintaining your brain’s health is interconnected with the health of your entire body. By digging deeper into your brain health, we can identify the foundational challenges leading to your chronic brain fog and empower you to discover your optimal brain function.
Discover how revitalizing your brain can change everything with our revolutionary BrainReboot Program.
Limited spots are available, so sign up today for a complimentary BrainReboot Strategy Session and discover how you can empower your brain toward optimal function.
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2. “Caught in the thickness of brain fog: exploring the cognitive ….” 15 Mar. 2013, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2013.00063/full. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
3. “Fibrofog and fibromyalgia: a narrative review and implications for ….” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25583051/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
4. “Brain Fog in Hypothyroidism: What Is It, How Is It Measured, and ….” https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/thy.2022.0139. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
5. “Selective neuronal lapses precede human cognitive lapses … – Nature.” 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.4433. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
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7. “Cognitive Functioning in Major Depression – A Summary – PMC.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2759342/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
8. “Unique and interactive effect of anxiety and depressive symptoms ….” 24 Jan. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4222514/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
9. “Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function – PMC – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
10. “Food allergy induces alteration in brain inflammatory status and ….” 17 May. 2019, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29339006/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
11. “Cognition, Mood and Sleep in Menopausal Transition: The Role of ….” 1 Oct. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6843314/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
12. “Hormonal Influences on Cognitive Function – PMC – NCBI.” 30 Aug. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6422548/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
13. “The Relationship Between Brain Fog and Medication Adherence for ….” 5 Aug. 2021, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34348493/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
14. “Neurocognitive impact of metal exposure and social stressors ….” 19 Jul. 2019, https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-019-0505-3. Accessed 27 Feb. 2023.
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