How to Beat Brain Fog
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Ever been sitting in an important meeting or exam when your brain just keeps wandering away? It may feel nearly impossible to focus on the task in front of you. Or maybe your brain just feels fuzzy and lazy sometimes. You might be experiencing brain fog.
Brain fog is a set of neurological symptoms that impacts nearly everyone. But, like most neurological dysfunctions, brain fog doesn't have one cause, nor is there one easy solution.
Keep reading to learn about the causes of brain fog and some remedies that might work for you!
What is brain fog?
There is no official medical definition for the term brain fog. Instead, it’s described by a number of neurological symptoms. These symptoms include:
Behavior and mood changes
Short-term memory loss
Trouble with attention
Difficulty solving problems
Essentially, brain fog impacts how quickly and clearly you’re able to think. Sometimes it may cause you to feel like your brain has been replaced by cotton balls. Lights are on, but nobody’s home.
Brain fog can leave you unable to concentrate on conversations, work tasks, or even this article right now. You might need more coffee than usual to focus and more snacks to stay awake during the day. You may also have trouble making decisions, no matter how small. In severe cases, you might have vision problems, nausea, and headaches.
What causes brain fog?
There is also no one cause of brain fog. Brain fog could be a symptom of numerous conditions, such as a sleep disorder, thyroid conditions, depression, or even a nutrient deficiency. Brain fog can also be caused by lifestyle factors like inactivity, chronic stress, poor diet, and eating too much or too often.
Below, we’ll break down some of the most common causes of brain fog:
As we know, chronic stress will wreak havoc throughout your entire body. When you’re in a long-term state of stress, your body becomes filled with adrenaline, diverging energy away from normal bodily functions and towards the stress response. This will make it hard to think clearly, difficult to focus, and can exhaust the brain.
Thyroid disorders can lead to a number of various symptoms, including mood swings, loss of focus and mental clarity, fatigue, and brain fog. This is because the thyroid plays a number of roles within the body, from metabolism and heart rate to breathing.
Brain fog is especially common for those with Hashimoto’s disease, in which the body can’t prevent enough thyroid and enters an inflammatory state. But having too much thyroid can also induce brain fog.
Chronic COVID-19 impacts roughly 1 in 10 people who have contracted COVID-19. One of the most common symptoms associated with long COVID is brain fog. This is because once infected, the virus will cause mitochondrial damage throughout the patient’s body, including within the brain. And, damaged or disrupted mitochondrial function has been linked to numerous neurological symptoms- like brain fog, headaches, and trouble concentrating.
Moreover, neurological issues caused by COVID-19 will continue to last far longer than the actual infection, as mitochondrial damage will have already been done. To read more about reversing chronic COVID-19, click here.
Having an irregular sleep and wake time, getting under seven hours of sleep a night, too much blue light exposure, and other bad sleep hygiene practices disrupt your internal clock (the circadian rhythm).
Messing with your circadian rhythm will impact your brain in several ways. Too much blue light at night will impair melatonin production, making it harder for you to enter REM sleep at night. REM sleep is when your body processes and consolidates memories during the day. Without enough REM sleep, it’s likely you’ll experience some memory loss and brain fog.
Moreover, when you sleep, your brain and body undergo detoxification processes to get rid of harmful chemicals and toxins that have accumulated throughout the day. Remaining awake during the night will impact how well your body is able to detox, contributing to brain fog.
Food sensitivities and diet deficiencies:
An unidentified food intolerance, such as gluten or dairy, can also lead to a foggy feeling head. For example, eating gluten when you’re gluten intolerant can cause inflammation throughout the body, which will lead to cognitive dysfunction and sensations of brain fog.
Moreover, nutrient deficiencies can lead to symptoms associated with brain fog as well. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 have been linked to symptoms like fatigue and overall exhaustion. A vitamin D deficiency is associated with impaired cognitive function.
Your hormones are in a constant state of change. This is especially true during transitional times, like during menopause, pregnancy, postpartum, or even lifestyle changes like switching a job or moving houses. These periods of hormonal fluctuation can leave your brain feeling confused and fuzzy.
One study demonstrated that 60% of menopausal women have difficulty concentrating. During these times of change, your hormones are working to return to baseline and restore balance throughout your body, which can cause brain fog in the interim.
How to clear the brain fog?
The best way to improve your brain fog is to first discover its true cause. At the Johnson Center, we will work with you to understand your complete health history and symptoms. After a health screening, we can then order appropriate labs work to test potential causes like thyroid dysfunction or mitochondrial damage.
Once we have a thorough understanding of your overall health, we can then work together to create a personalized health plan to find real solutions to your brain fog and other symptoms you may be experiencing.
But, in the meantime, we have some tips that may help alleviate some of your brain fog:
Improve your sleep hygiene → So often, we sacrifice sleep for other priorities like work, school, or deadlines. But ultimately, this will backfire, as losing sleep will only decrease cognitive function the next day. Getting proper rest will help to keep you clear and focused all day long! Click here to see our tips for improving sleep hygiene.
Try intermittent fasting → Fasting has been linked to a number of health benefits, including fat loss, increased energy, and better sleep. But also, intermittent fasting has also been linked to a decreased likelihood of developing neurodegenerative diseases and can help with brain fog.
Balance working out with chilling out → There’s no denying that exercise is great for the brain. It can improve memory, reduce anxiety and depression, and even reduce your risk of cognitive decline. But, working out too much causes your body to become overloaded with stress, which can then induce brain fog. Finding a balance between working out and doing meditation and yoga will have the best results.
Eat some brain food → Did you know that your brain is mostly made up of protein and fat? And, in turn, your brain is happiest when you’re eating a diet full of these nutrients. Contrarily, eating a diet full of sugars and fast foods can lead to brain fog. So, incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and protein to boost your brain power throughout the day.
Don’t forget to take breaks → Several studies have found that when you’re having trouble concentrating on a task, stepping away and taking a break can substantially improve your focus and performance. However, not all breaks are equal. Reaching for a cell phone doesn’t allow your brain to recharge as effectively as other relaxation techniques like phoning a friend, meditating, or doing something creative.
Lay off the caffeine → While reaching for another cup of coffee may seem like a great solution to your brain fog, try to resist. Caffeine may give you a quick mental boost, but ultimately, it doesn’t address the root of your brain fog. And, no matter how many cups of coffee you take, you cannot force the brain to perform its best.
For more information about how we treat brain fog at the Johnson Center, click here to contact us. Or email our office at email@example.com or call 276-235-3205 to schedule your complimentary discovery call.
The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!