Misplacing your keys once in a while is normal. Constantly feeling like you’ve misplaced your brain isn’t.
Along with bouts of forgetfulness, chronic brain fog causes fatigue, mood swings, lack of focus, and can significantly interfere with work and family life. Yet, it is so common that many of us pass off these signs as just “part of life.”
You don’t have to live in a cloudy mental fog. Research shows that there are distinct causes of chronic brain fog—and ways to overcome them. Let’s fight the fog!
4 Sneaky Causes of Mental Sluggishness
1. Lack of Sleep
It’s certainly no revelation that a lack of sleep will make you feel tired. But the negative effects of sleep loss go way beyond grogginess.
Consistently losing sleep (or getting poor quality sleep) deprives your brain of the rest it needs to recuperate. As a result, the brain’s cells can’t communicate properly and we experience lapses in memory, perception, and judgment.
De-Fogging Fix: There’s no quick fix or “productivity hack” for sleep deprivation. The only way to restore your brain’s optimal function is to prioritize a healthy sleep routine. Easier said than done? Not to worry. Zeel’s sleep massages are designed to help troubled sleepers get the rest they need and deserve, without even leaving home.
2. Chronic Stress
Unlike brain fog, stress is a natural part of life. How we manage it can either make us more resilient or foggy and frustrated.
In a moment of intense stress, our brain’s focus and decision-making abilities sharpen. When stress is chronic, however, we use up our mental energy stores and quickly become fatigued. Soon, the brain is “running on empty” and it’s difficult to concentrate on even simple tasks.
De-Fogging Fix: Don’t let chronic stress run the show. Stick to a daily stress-relief routine that gives your body and brain a chance to release unresolved tensions and start each day fresh.
3. Hormonal Shifts
A healthy hormone balance is essential for good brain function. Unfortunately, striking that balance isn’t always easy.
Hormone shifts can be triggered in both men and women by a variety of causes, like changes in environment, age, or lifestyle. In addition to common imbalances in hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and thyroid, shifts can take place in other neurohormones such as insulin and cortisol—all of which can result in mental sluggishness and fog.
De-Fogging Fix: When it comes to maintaining a healthy hormonal balance, the most important thing is always to consult your doctor, as hormones are deeply intertwined with the rest of your overall health. On a day-to-day level, the best gift you can give your hormonal health is stress management. Stress is the most readily fixable agent of hormonal chaos, and research has shown that meditation can have a powerful impact on the brain’s ability to regulate hormones throughout the body.
4. Diet Dilemmas
Your brain is a hungry organ. So hungry, in fact, that it devours over 20% of your daily caloric intake just to keep you functioning in a resting state. Now consider how much quality fuel it needs to conquer daily problem-solving or stressful situations!
To thrive, the brain needs plenty of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. It also needs specific nutrients to perform at its best, including vitamin B-12. Alas, most people don’t get enough nutrition from their daily diet to give their brains what they need.
On top of that, certain foods may increase your risk of brain fog. MSG, sugar, alcohol, and dairy are common culprits, but any food you have a sensitivity to can cause trouble of a mental variety.
Dr. Gary Kaplan, an integrative medical doctor, explains, “If you experience symptoms of brain fog, headache, or digestive discomfort when you eat a specific type of food, you may have a sensitivity but not necessarily an allergy.” That sensitivity causes inflammation and reduces the brain’s ability to function.
De-Fogging Fix: Take a close look at your daily diet. If you’re like most people, you’re likely eating at least a few triggering foods. Experiment with eliminating possible irritants and fill your diet with healthier brain food.