Brain fog sucks. And, unfortunately, it’s not all that uncommon. Brain fog makes thinking clearly a challenge, forgetfulness all too common, and productivity very likely to suffer. But the good new is, in most cases, you have the power to change it: to feel focused, clearheaded, and alert.
What you eat and drink, how much you sleep, and how you breathe are some of the factors that you have control over that affect mental clarity. Even if you have a bigger underlying issue, by honing in on what you can control, you’ll still improve your mental clarity.
Deep, restful sleep is fundamental to strong brain function. Sleeping 7-9 quality hours per night increases the brain’s capacity to stay alert and focused throughout the day. Too little or poor quality sleep leads to forgetfulness and clumsiness, both characteristics of brain fog. To ensure adequate sleep, avoid using electronics or consuming caffeine close too bedtime, prepare a dark room with a comfortable temperature, and aim to get to bed a bit earlier to allow enough time for a proper rest.
Your breath can also impact how alert you feel. Breathing brings oxygen into the lungs, and the blood carries it to the brain. If you’re taking too shallow or too few breaths, the amount of oxygen available for the brain may be limited. Simply focus on taking big, full inhales while letting the exhale take care of itself. Doing this outside in an area with plants and trees can enhance the experience.
Movement also matters when it comes to brain fog, in the much the same way as breathing does. Sitting for long periods of time can slow down the heart rate, such that its not working as hard to send blood up to the brain. By moving around–even a quick walk–can improve circulation, encourage blood flow, and therefore increase the oxygen that gets to the brain. More oxygen to the brain helps to relieve mental cloudiness.
What you drink can significantly impact how well your mind is functioning. Not enough water will slow down the firing of the neural connections, because water is fundamental to the electrical currents in your brain. Make sure you stay hydrated.
Coffee may seem like the perfect choice to alleviate brain fog, but two potential issues arise. First, the caffeine in coffee may provide too much stimulation, so the brain is too easily distracted and feels overly wired, rather than focused. Second, once the effect of the coffee has worn off, the brain fog returns, oftentimes worse than before (commonly known as the coffee crash). Soda and energy drinks aren’t any better. Their caffeine effect is similar to that of coffee, but the problems they cause are compounded by sugar. Sugar can act as a stimulant in the short-term, making you feel more awake and alert, but over time sugar will harm brain function. (More on that in food.)
A better alternative is tea. While tea contains caffeine, it is significantly less than coffee, energy drinks, and oftentimes soda, as well. But more importantly, the caffeine is paired with L-Theanine, which clinical research shows improves focus, memory, and response time. Plus, tea can be enjoyed without sugar, thus avoiding that problem.
You are what you eat is true for how you think, too. Too little fat in the diet impairs brain functioning because 60% of brain matter consists of fat. Too little protein in the diet can impair hormone production, which indirectly affects mental clarity, because of lack of complete amino acids. Too little meat can increase copper concentrations without adequate zinc to balance it, which can lead to copper toxicity, a prime cause of unresolved brain fog.
Carbohydrate and sugar consumption is a delicate issue. For those suffering from low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, consuming some carbohydrates can help alleviate brain fog. But excess carbohydrates have their own risks. On a daily basis, sugar consumption can trigger the blood glucose roller coaster, full of energetic highs followed by foggy lows. Over a lifetime, too many carbohydrates can lead to a decline in brain function and possibly be the cause of Alzheimer’s.
You don’t need to sacrifice your productivity, compromise your mood or happiness, or walk around feeling foggy all day. Get these diet and lifestyle factors dialed in to clear the cloud over your head, and feel alert, focused, and ready to take on the world with that sharp mind of yours.
Leave a comment and let us know, what do you do when you want to get focused.