How to get rid of brain fog

How do I get rid of brain fog?

“What was I saying again?”

“What did I come in this room for?”

“Umm… where did I park my car?”

If you’ve ever asked any of these questions, you’ve suffered from “brain fog”. 

Previously, names and places would roll off the tongue. Then all of a sudden we struggle to find our words or remember the name of that girl who was in that film about that thing. 

What is brain fog?

Although it’s not a medical condition, disease or disorder, it’s a series of symptoms that lead to a feeling of fatigue and sometimes confusion, reduced concentration or poor memory. Sound familiar? You’re not alone - in fact, 60% of people in the UK report to suffer from brain fog on a daily basis. 

Experiencing brain fog can be sometimes awkward and often unsettling, usually meaning frantic searches on Google - or just leaving you with a mental cloud of anxiety. The good news is that this state is typically temporary, and with the right lifestyle tweaks, you can quickly restore your mental clarity. We consulted experts to discover effective strategies for instantly clearing brain fog and reclaiming cognitive sharpness. Before we get into those strategies, let’s look at the causes of brain fog.

Why do I keep getting brain fog?

How to get rid of brain fog

Inflammatory Response: Beyond affecting joints, inflammation can impact the brain, causing a foggy-headed and sluggish feeling. Factors like obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory diseases, and autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia can contribute to brain inflammation.

Asthma and Allergies: Histamines, produced in response to allergens, can lead to fogginess, particularly in those with asthma and allergies. The increased production of histamine is a common factor in experiencing brain fog.

Sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for cognitive function. Sleep disorders or insufficient sleep can disrupt communication between brain cells, resulting in temporary lapses affecting memory and visual perception.

Anxiety, Depression, and Stress: Persistent mental health issues like anxiety, depression, stress or chronic fatigue can overwhelm the brain's functioning and memory. External stressors, such as the ongoing impact of COVID-19, can further hinder focus and cognitive performance.

Cancer Treatments: Referred to as "chemo brain," feeling foggy is a common side effect during and after cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy. Various treatments may lead to short-term, long-term, or delayed cognitive changes.

Hormonal Changes: "Baby or mummy brain" is a real phenomenon, particularly in pregnant women or those going through menopause. In men, lower testosterone levels can also contribute to mental fatigue.

Recommended lifestyle changes

Mother with brain fog

Minimise stress

There’s no two-ways about it - our minds are bombarded with information overload. News, social feeds and the incessant flow of life admin (or ‘ladmin’, as we call it), and what do you get? Mental fatigue. When we’re faced with an excessive cognitive load - spinning many plates or bearing a heavy mental burden - it strains our mental resources, and can be more than our brains can cope with.

It’s so important to make some time to unwind; whether that’s a bubble bath at the end of a busy day, a brisk walk where you don’t look at your phone, or taking 10 minutes to practise some mindful meditation. And don’t forget, we’re social animals - not only do social activities boost our mood, but they help our thinking and memory too. 

Break up your work day

If you’re working solidly for 8 hours a day, on top of life admin, it’s no wonder our brains can feel like they’re going to explode sometimes! Experts point to the existence of ultradian rhythms; recurring cycles that unfold throughout our waking hours. Research indicates that working in 90-minute intervals and then incorporating breaks for activities like having a cuppa, taking a brief walk, or making a phone call to a loved one, can enhance cognitive function. By reducing prolonged work periods, you alleviate that strain on your brain. 

Look at your diet

While reaching for the Hobnobs can offer an immediate brain boost (thanks to the sugar), maintaining a balanced diet is key for consistent performance throughout the day.

Making positive dietary changes doesn't have to be drastic. Instead of eliminating "unhealthy" foods, add some nutritious additions into your meals and snacks or start your day with a healthy smoothie.

Choose antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, oranges, and nuts, known to reduce oxidative stress in the body, positively influencing both the brain and overall well-being.

Include fish in your diet as well, as it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, associated with lower rates of cognitive decline, as noted by experts. Plant-based alternatives include walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, edamame, seaweed and algae. Check out our blog on the best foods to help you sleep too. 

Maintaining hydration is equally crucial, considering the brain is about 75% water. A 2021 study revealed that dehydration can impact memory and mood. Inspect your wee! Aim to drink enough fluids for a clear or light yellow colour. 

Focus on your sleep

Of course, the occasional night of poor sleep may not immediately result in sluggishness the following day. But consistent below-par sleep patterns can negatively impact your brain's performance. Inadequate sleep habits can affect us in dual ways by elevating stress levels and interfering with the brain's chance to rest and rejuvenate. This may stem from an irregular sleep schedule, restless sleep, or waking up in the middle of the night - all of which contribute to brain fog.

Check out our sleep calculator to work out how much sleep you really need to feel your best. 

The link between sleep and mental clarity

Ypung woman without brain fog

Restoration 

Quality sleep is a critical period during which the brain undergoes essential processes for cognitive function. During the different stages of sleep, the brain consolidates memories, clears out irrelevant information and repairs cognitive pathways. A well-rested brain is better equipped to navigate complex mental tasks, leading to increased clarity and focus.

Balancing neurotransmitters

Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining a balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Adequate rest supports the release and regulation of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, which are crucial for mood, motivation, and overall cognitive function. When these neurotransmitters are in balance, it can contribute to a more alert and clear-headed state of mind.

Enhanced problem-solving abilities

The REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep is particularly instrumental in problem-solving and creative thinking. This phase is associated with vivid dreaming and cognitive flexibility, allowing the brain to make connections between seemingly unrelated pieces of information. Take a look at our blog where we look into the different stages of sleep cycles in more detail. Quality sleep enhances these problem-solving abilities, aiding in overcoming mental blocks and reducing brain fog.

Reduced stress and anxiety

As we mentioned previously, chronic stress and anxiety are notorious culprits behind brain fog. High-stress levels can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to a vicious cycle of fatigue and mental cloudiness. But prioritising restful sleep can significantly reduce stress and anxiety, promoting mental clarity and emotional well-being.

Should I get help?

If you find yourself experiencing increased mental fog with no improvement and things appear to be worsening, definitely reach out to your doctor.

Physicians can offer treatment for conditions commonly associated with brain fog and can also confirm whether what you're experiencing is genuinely 'brain fog' or indicative of another underlying condition. For instance, cognitive difficulties can sometimes stem from deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals. And cognitive symptoms can signal more significant issues that a specialist, skilled in addressing cognitive challenges, can identify. So scheduling a follow-up with your GP is essential.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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