What is brain fog?
Mental fatigue, or ‘brain fog’ as it’s often known, isn’t a specific medical condition – it’s simply that feeling of your brain not serving you as well as you know it can.1 This kind of fatigue can affect you in many ways, because your brain has such a vast range of functions. It could mean that you have trouble with your memory – easy to notice when you forget to complete a routine task, or a go blank trying to remember a familiar person’s name. Or maybe you find yourself struggling with simple calculations, like counting loose change when you’re paying for a coffee. It can also be more subtle – trouble with visual tasks like reading maps, or generally struggling with problem solving, planning and organizing.
What causes brain fog?
The causes of brain fog are as diverse as the symptoms. So if you’ve got that foggy feeling, it’s best to work out what’s behind it before it gets too frustrating.
Sleep deprivation – your brain needs both quality and quantity when it comes to sleep. Without enough good sleep, you’re likely to feel a little fuzzy headed, and have trouble concentrating.1
Stress – when stress becomes an ongoing issue, it can tire your brain out to the point where thinking, reasoning and focusing become harder.1
Hormonal changes can have an impact on your memory and ability to think clearly.1
Diet – your brain needs energy and nutrition, much like other parts of your body. Getting enough vitamin B-12 and iron are particularly important.1
Physical inactivity – your brain works very closely with your body, and it doesn’t operate well when you sit all day and don’t take the time to keep physically fit.2
Medications and some medical conditions – occasionally, medications can be the cause of brain fog and so can some illnesses 1
How to clear the fog
When you’re feeling mentally fatigued, it’s a good idea to get a few simple strategies in place that can often get your brain back to its normal self.
Improve your sleeping habits – aim for 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night1
Manage your stress levels – take time out to do things that make you happy1
Give your diet a boost – with more protein, fruit, vegetables, and sources of healthy fats such as nuts, avocados and olive oil1
Keep your alcohol and caffeine intake low – tough but worth it1
Exercise more – getting regular exercise and becoming physically fit is great for brain fitness1,2
If these hacks aren’t helpful, then it’s best to speak with your doctor or healthcare professional. It might be a good idea to get your iron levels checked if you suspect that these could be low, especially if you feel physically fatigued too. Similarly, if you’ve started feeling mental fatigue after becoming ill in some other way or starting a new medication, your doctor may shed some light on whether there’s a connection and a potential solution.
Once you have cleared the fog, you might even consider strategies for enhancing your mental clarity further. Meditation is a great option for boosting mental performance, and has other great health benefits.3,4 Or you could consider adding introducing a natural plant-based supplement to your routine, for some extra brain support, such as KeenMind® or Gincosan®.
- Healthline. 6 possible causes of brain fog. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/brain-fog Accessed August 2018.
- Martynoga B. How physical exercise makes your brain work better. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/jun/18/how-physical-exercise-makes-your-brain-work-better Accessed August 2018.
- Klemm WR. 12 ways to improve concentration. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/memory-medic/201102/12-ways-improve-concentration Accessed August 2018.
- Gowin J. Brain scans show how meditation improves mental focus. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/you-illuminated/201204/brain-scans-show-how-meditation-improves-mental-focus Accessed August 2018.