Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
July 4, 2022
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on:

So, you feel like you can’t think clearly lately, and you’re having trouble remembering things. If that’s the case, you may be experiencing brain fog.

Brain fog can become overwhelming and debilitating if you don’t nip it in the bud—the more often it brings you cognitive dysfunction, the more it impacts your life negatively.

So, how do you get rid of brain fog? In this article, we will discuss 11 research-backed methods that can help you get rid of brain fog and even improve your brain function in the long run.

Let’s get started.

What is brain fog, exactly?

Most of us have experienced brain fog at some point or another. You know the feeling—when you can’t focus, and your thoughts feel jumbled, and when you’re having trouble remembering things.

You may also experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle pain. Brain fog can make it difficult to get through your day-to-day tasks.

This mild cognitive dysfunction often lasts for a few days to a few weeks, but it can also become severe and lingers for months.

While brain fog is not a medical condition, it can be a symptom of an underlying health issue. If you’re experiencing brain fog on a regular basis, it’s essential to see a doctor to rule out any potential underlying causes.

Causes

The common causes of brain fog include:

  • Dehydration
  • Poor diet
  • Food sensitivities
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress
  • Mood disorders (e.g., depression, bipolar)
  • Neurological disorders (e.g., dementia)
  • Hormonal imbalances (e.g., pregnancy, period, menopause)
  • Medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, chronic fatigue syndrome)
  • Medications (e.g., antidepressants, chemotherapy)
  • Treatments (i.e., chemo brain fog)
  • Substance abuse

Symptoms

The symptoms of brain fog can vary from person to person, but the most common ones include:

  • Trouble concentrating and focusing
  • Difficulty with problem-solving
  • Struggles with decision-making
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

Brain fog can have a significant impact on your quality of life. If you’re experiencing brain fog, you may find it difficult to:

  • Get through your workday
  • Be productive at home
  • Enjoy social activities and hobbies
  • Concentrate on conversations
  • Remember details and follow directions

So, how do you get rid of brain fog?

There are a number of things you can do to combat brain fog and improve your overall brain health in the long term.

Here are 11 research-backed ways to get rid of brain fog:

1) Prioritize your sleep

If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can lead to brain fog. Adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome, and impaired brain function, including difficulty with focus, concentration, and memory.

To improve your sleep quality, try the the following tips:

  • establish a regular sleep schedule,
  • avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime,
  • do not eat within 3 to 4 hours leading to your bed schedule,
  • limit screen use as much as possible 30 minutes before bed,
  • create a relaxing bedtime routine,
  • and make sure your sleeping environment is dark, quiet, and cool.

If you’re still struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, talk to your doctor about a potential sleep disorder. 

2) Move your body

Exercise is not only great for your physical health, but it is also excellent for improving your central nervous system and cognitive health. 

Research shows that aerobic exercise can help increase brain volume and protect it against age-related cognitive decline. It can also improve memory and learning.

In one study, sedentary adults who started an aerobic exercise program three times a week for six months saw significant improvements in their memory and executive function.

Other studies have shown that regular exercise can help reduce brain fog and improve focus, concentration, attention span, and reaction time.

So, if you’re feeling foggy-headed, a quick workout may be just what you need to clear your head.

Just make sure not to overdo it. Excessive exercise can actually lead to fatigue and make brain fog worse.

Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise is the sweet spot for cognitive benefits.

A good goal to aim for is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise most days of the week.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities include walking, jogging, biking, swimming, and dancing.

If you’re new to exercise or have any health concerns, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. 

They can help you create a safe and effective workout plan that meets your needs.

3) Feed yourself the right food

You are what you eat. So, if you want to improve your cognitive health and immune system, you need to make sure you’re eating the right foods.

There is no one perfect diet for cognitive health. But, there are certain nutrients that are essential for cognitive function.

Some of the best nutrients for your brain include:

  • Omega-three fatty acids: found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, as well as in nuts and seeds.
  • Antioxidants: found in fruits and vegetables like berries, dark leafy greens, and tomatoes.
  • Magnesium: found in dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • B vitamins: found in whole grains, eggs, meat, poultry, and dark leafy greens.
  • Vitamin C: found in citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, and broccoli.
  • Vitamin D:  found in fatty fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products.
  • Vitamin E: found in nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Flavonoids: found in tea, dark chocolate, and red wine.

Eating a diet that is rich in these nutrients can help improve brain function and reduce brain fog.

In one study, adults who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fish had better cognitive function than those who did not.

Another study found that older adults who ate a Mediterranean-style diet had a lower risk of developing dementia.

If you’re unsure how to start eating for brain health, talk to a registered dietitian. They can help you create a nutritious meal plan that meets your needs.

4) Drink more water

Dehydration can lead to brain fog. Studies show that when you’re dehydrated, your body doesn’t function as well as it should.

This can impact your brain function and make it more difficult to think clearly as you lose fluids.

Take note that the first sign of dehydration is thirst. Once you get thirsty, consider yourself a little bit dehydrated.

So, if you’re struggling with brain fog, make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day.

How much water you need depends on your individual needs. But, a good general rule is to drink eight glasses of water a day.

You can also check your urine color to make sure you’re staying hydrated.

If your urine is light yellow or clear, you’re probably well-hydrated. If it’s dark yellow or amber, you may need to drink more water.

If you’re struggling to drink enough water, try carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day or setting reminders on your phone.

You can also flavor your water with fruits and herbs to make it more refreshing and enjoyable. Some good options include lemon, lime, mint, or berries.

Just make sure to avoid adding too much sugar, as this can negate the benefits of staying hydrated.

5) Destress as much as you can

Research suggests that chronic stress can lead to brain fog. It has also been linked to problems like anxiety, depression, and memory loss.

When you’re constantly under stress, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode.

This triggers a release of hormones like cortisol that can impact your cognitive function.

Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps you manage short-term stress. But, when it’s constantly released, it can have negative effects on your body. 

So, if you want to improve your brain function and get rid of brain fog, it’s important to find ways to reduce stress in your life.

There are many different ways to do this. Some people find that exercise, meditation, and deep breathing exercises help to reduce stress levels.

Others find that journaling or spending time in nature helps them to relax and destress.

Find what works for you and make it a priority to do it every day. This can help you to feel more relaxed and clear-headed.

6) Sharpen up your brain with some mental exercise

Just like your muscles, your brain needs to be worked out to stay strong and healthy.

Studies show that brain-training games help to improve cognitive functions and can even reduce the risk of developing dementia.

There are many different ways you can give your brain a workout. Some people find that doing puzzles or Sudoku helps to keep their minds sharp.

Others find that learning a new skill, like a musical instrument or a new language, helps to improve brain function.

You can also try memory games or apps that are designed to help improve brain function.

Find what works for you and make it a priority to do it every day. This can help you to feel more relaxed and clear-headed.

By doing brain-training exercises regularly, you can help to improve your cognitive function and reduce brain fog.

7) Take healthy breaks during the day

When you’re constantly working without taking breaks, it can lead to brain fog.

This is because your brain needs time to rest and recover in order to function at its best.

So, if you want to improve your cognitive functioning, make sure you’re taking healthy breaks during the day.

This doesn’t mean that you should take a long nap in the middle of the day. But, it does mean that you should take a few minutes to rest your eyes and give your brain a break.

You can also try taking a short walk outside or listening to calming music during your break.

Find what works for you and make sure you’re taking breaks throughout the day. This can help you to feel more relaxed and clear-headed on your next productivity sprint.

There you have it! These are just a few of the many different ways that you can get rid of brain fog.

If you’re struggling with brain fog, try implementing some of these tips into your daily routine.

And if you want to learn more about how to improve your cognitive functioning, be sure to check out the rest of our blog. We have articles on everything from brain food to brain-training exercises. 

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