8 Reasons Why You’re Suffering From Brain Fog
Are you sick of feeling hazy and struggling to concentrate? Feeling forgetful or just mentally exhausted? You might be suffering from brain fog.
Brain fog incorporates a general set of symptoms that affect the mind, including:
Feeling mentally fatigued
Difficulty with complex mental tasks such as problem-solving
We all experience a bit of brain fog from time to time. After all, the human brain wasn't designed to run at its peak 24/7!
But if it is starting to affect your work, your friendships or your physical health, it's time to get to the bottom of the issue. Let’s take a look at 8 reasons why you might be dealing with brain fog.
When was the last time you drank a glass of water? If it’s been more than about 90 minutes, your brain fog may just be a sign of dehydration. Even 1-2% dehydration can impair your brain function, affecting your concentration and ability to problem-solve.
Everyone has different water needs based on their body, lifestyle and environment. Most people will feel best drinking 1.5-3L of water per day, plus an extra 1-2 cups on a hot day or when exercising.
So when you start to feel fuzzy, reach for a glass of water before you grab another coffee or tea. Your body will thank you!
You’re not sleeping well
Do you struggle to fall asleep? Find yourself waking up a few times each night? Feeling exhausted and unrefreshed when you wake up? Your poor sleep might be to blame for your brain fog.
When we sleep, our brains are able to flush out waste that is produced throughout the day. If we don’t get a good sleep, it can leave ‘junk’ in the brain. This can be a contributor to the symptoms of brain fog.
The good news is that even if sleep isn’t the only cause of your brain fog, a good night sleep may still help! For some practical sleep tips, check out this article.
You’re missing out on key brain nutrients
There are several nutrients that are critical for optimal brain function. So if you’re missing out on these nutrients in your diet or running low on them due to increased demand or poor absorption, brain fog can be the result.
Some of the key nutrients for brain function include:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Amino acids (found in proteins)
If you follow a diet with numerous restrictions or intolerances, you may be deficient in one or more of these. But even with a balanced and varied diet, you may not be absorbing enough or using more of it due to higher demands from the body.
Your gut is unhappy
Brain fog doesn’t necessarily start in the brain. Sometimes, it starts elsewhere in the body – particularly the gut.
The gut and brain are closely linked via the vagus nerve. Many of your brain chemicals are actually produced in the gut, which is another reason why they are so often in sync health-wise. If your gut is upset or inflamed, your brain is likely to follow.
An unhappy gut doesn’t necessarily have to be as obvious as IBS or other gut conditions. It may be that you have an imbalance in gut bacteria or increased permeability in the gut without you even knowing!
This is why it’s important to continually work on a healthy, happy gut.
You’re dealing with a lot of stress
Dealing with stress is a body-wide response. But often, the first spots to feel the strain are where stress occurs – in the nervous system.
Acute stress can make you a little foggy, but you will recover quickly from it. The real problem is chronic stress – even if it’s low-grade stress.
Stress also feeds into other contributing factors to brain fog, including thyroid issues, hormone fluctuations, pain and poor sleep. This is why it’s so important to work on managing your stress levels.
You’re in pain
Another experience that hits the nervous system is pain. Much like stress, acute pain can cloud the mind for a short period of time, but chronic pain can lead to chronic brain fog.
Pain will often bring inflammation along with it, which can further affect brain function. This is why people who experience chronic pain conditions or conditions such as autoimmunity will experience brain fog during flare-ups.
You’re experiencing hormone fluctuations
Another common factor in brain fog is changes in sex hormone levels. Sex hormones affect all parts of the body, including stress hormones, thyroid hormones and energy levels. So it’s no surprise that this can affect our cognitive function as well.
This may include bigger hormonal shifts such as those that occur during pregnancy, peri-menopause and menopause. But it can also be a result of smaller shifts, such as increased brain fog in the lead up to menstruation.
We can’t stop fluctuations altogether, nor do we want to! But if your fluctuations are extreme and leading to brain fog, there are steps you can take to reduce the severity.
Your thyroid is unhappy
One of the most common contributors to brain fog that goes undetected? An imbalance in thyroid hormones.
Our cells need thyroid hormone to function – including our brain cells. A lack of thyroid hormone in the brain can impair function, leading to memory loss, poor concentration and mental fatigue.
Brain fog is most commonly associated with hypothyroidism, but it can occur with hyperthyroidism as well. It can also relate back to other contributing factors such as stress and inflammation.
Want to banish brain fog for good? Book an appointment with Tara here.