Have you ever opened your refrigerator or entered a room and forgot what you needed to grab? Perhaps an integral strategy came up at a company meeting and you can’t recall the details. Does it take longer to complete tasks that you used to tackle with ease? There is one potential culprit: brain fog.
Brain fog is not a medical diagnosis; rather, it is something that most people experience as a result of exhaustion, stress, or sleep deprivation. It isn’t the same as dementia and doesn’t indicate structural brain deterioration. As you get older, physiological changes can cause glitches in brain function. You may notice these changes at times, and you may not notice them at others. For example, you may find that it takes longer to remember information, or you may feel that you aren’t as mentally sharp as usual.
What Causes Brain Fog?
The leading causes of brain fog are lack of sleep and stress. Diet can also contribute to brain fog. Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy brain function, and a deficiency in this vitamin can bring about brain fog. Sometimes, though, brain fog can be a symptom of other medical disorders. Brain fog is a type of cognitive dysfunction that can result in an inability to concentrate, memory problems, inadequate concentration, and a deficiency in mental clarity. Fortunately, there are a handful of lifestyle tweaks you can make to overcome brain fog and inspire mental clarity. Read on to learn more about them.
Fill Up On Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Some research indicates that inflammation may trigger brain fog. For that reason, experts recommend eating anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding foods that increase inflammatory markers. Steer clear of highly processed foods, processed meats, and stick to a plant-based or Mediterranean-style of eating, both of which emphasize whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Brain fog can occasionally be a symptom of certain autoimmune conditions, which stem from chronic inflammation. One study showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis who ate an anti-inflammatory diet improved cognitive function and alleviated other symptoms of the condition.
The general recommendation for adults is to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Not only does that keep the heart healthy, but the brain also. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, and research shows that physical activity can cause positive changes in the brain. One such change is an increase in gray matter and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a molecule that helps create neural connections relating to memory and learning. Plus, exercise is a great antipode for stress, which can contribute to brain fog.
Develop Better Sleep Hygiene
Sleep keeps you sharp, and lack of sleep can cause you to be fuzzy or out of it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Failure to get sufficient sleep can cause a range of brain fog-like symptoms, including impaired attention, slower processing speed, and reduced alertness. In order to get more restful sleep, you have to address your sleep hygiene. That means ditching screens before bed, creating a wind-down routine, or practicing nightly stretches to relax the body. If you have insomnia or sleep apnea, consider what treatments are available and address the issue before it worsens.
Automate Your To-Do List
Managing a busy schedule is no easy feat, but you don’t have to stress yourself out about small things that you forget. If you forget to defrost your fish, don’t beat yourself up about it. Using cognitive aids can be very helpful for busy bees. Set alarms on your phone, schedule reminders through a voice assistant, set up auto pay for your bills, and organize things on a calendar. All of those little steps can take away the stress that increases brain fog. Getting stressed about something you forget doesn’t help the fog, so get things off your plate easily with technological aids that are available to you.
Engage In Brainy Activities
How easy is it to mindlessly scroll through Instagram or binge a show on Netflix? Easy, is the answer. The brain, like any muscle, needs to be used and exercised to make it stronger. Different exercises can stimulate and support your cognitive health. Reading books, tackling crossword puzzles, playing games or instruments, and keeping updated on current events can train your brain. Just like physical exercise, consistency is key if you want to maintain brain strength. Research found that listening to music can stimulate the brain and aid stress reduction.