Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on
July 3, 2021
Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on:

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Brain fog is a common condition that can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, poor diet or lack of sleep.

Read on to learn more about the causes and symptoms of brain fog and how you can get rid of it for good!

How to get rid of brain fog you might ask? In this post you will find out what causes brain fog, why it’s so hard to get rid of and what you can do to help yourself feel better.

What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is not an illness, but rather a symptom group of other medical conditions. It’s characterized by:

  • memory problems
  • lack of mental clarity
  • poor concentration
  • inability to focus
  • or a strong mental fatigue

Brain fog, or this fuzzy thinking, can impact your work performance, personal life and academic abilities. But it doesn’t have to be permanent. Identifying the root cause of your brain fog can help you find relief. In general this brain fog goes together with other symptoms like a lack of sleep or problems within your immune system. Your medic can adapt your treatment to appropriately address the underlying cause. You can also try the following tips yourself.

What is the main cause of brain fog?

There are 9 different potential factors that cause brain fog, including:

  1. Not enough sleep,
  2. fatigue from a medical condition or stress f.e. Chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, MS …
  3. anxiety and depression symptoms
  4. side effects from taking medication for other conditions such as chemo
  5. Nutritional deficiencies (or problems with the digestive system)
  6. Toxins or heavy metals
  7. Hormonal changes f.e. hypothyroidism, pregnancy or menopause
  8. Dehydration
  9. Excessive intake of drugs or alcohol.

These conditions can cause symptoms that might feel the same as brain fog. Brain fog is different for every person, so there’s no one clear-cut way of addressing it. What can help some people might not work for others, and vice versa.

How to Get Rid of Brain Fog: Here are 15 Medically Approved Tips

You might ask yourself “how do I get rid of brain fog fast?”. Will brain fog go away on its own? Fortunately, brain fog can be managed with a few lifestyle changes. We’ve provided 15 medically approved tips to help you manage your symptoms and live life without the haze of mind-numbing fatigue. Implementing these principles will not only give you more clarity in your mental performance – it could also lead to increased productivity at home or on the job.

1. Go to the source

Your doctor may recommend you get a blood test to determine the cause. This blood test can help your doctor evaluate multiple causes. It might be that you have a low amount of red blood cells, which could indicate an iron deficiency. Further it can check your thyroid hormone and other aspects. These can be causes of brain fog. Your blood test might indicate that you need more than lifestyle changes to support your brain power.

The cause of your brain fog might be stress, anxiety and depression. These are all linked to brain fog. Talking to a mental health professional, can give you more insights to your triggers and can be a part of the treatment plan.

2. Exercise more

Exercise can help your brain release feel-good endorphins and keep you well rested. It is shown to lower stress, which is a culprit for mental fog.

It can also improve brain function like memory, concentration. Further it also increases blood flow to the brain and supports the immune system.

Exercise is also important in managing certain mental health conditions. Research suggests that regular exercise can also protect the brain against aging and dementia.

Regular exercise does not just mean going for a jog or hitting the gym on a regular basis though. What counts is staying active during your day in any way possible in a moderate way. Take breaks to stretch, walk up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator at work or go for a walk around your neighborhood.

Before starting an exercise routine, it’s important to consult a doctor. Depending on the severity of your brain fog (or underlying condition) and what type of medication you’re taking, you might want to take it slow. This is especially important if there have been recent changes in dosage or frequency.

3. Get some rest – take care of your mental fatigue

Sleep is the best way to recharge the body and mind.

It’s recommended that adults get at least eight hours of sleep a night, but sometimes this is not always possible. Having a baby, finals week or being in a stressful environment can make it difficult to have restful sleep. It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep when brain fog or disturbing thoughts are present. What you should try doing is establishing a bedtime routine where everything in your day leads up to this moment.

  • Sleep in a dark room with no outside light or screens (these interfere with the natural release of melatonin)
  • Eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine after noon
  • Exercise within four hours of going to bed.

4. Drink enough water

Drinking water is important for health, but it can also have benefits on brain fog. Keeping a bottle of water with you at all times could be a good trick to get started with that. Benefits  of drinking more water include:

  • More energy
  • Clearer skin
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Keeps you hydrated in general.

5. Eat more vitamins

If you’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables or getting the nutrients your body needs, that can lead to brain fog. Certain vitamins and minerals are crucial for proper immune function. This could also lead to other symptoms.

What’s important is that you eat at least five servings of produce every day– this means a serving size for fruit (about half) or vegetable (one cup).

Eating vitamin-rich foods like leafy greens will help to produce neurotransmitters. What this means is that eating a healthy diet can help you manage your brain fog and ultimately minimize it. The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in plant-based foods and omega-three fatty acids has been shown to alleviate brain fog.

6. Get checked for food sensitivities or allergies

If you don’t have a poor diet, you still might lack certain minerals and vitamins. A doctor can check for food allergies, celiac disease or other conditions that might be preventing you from fully absorbing nutrients. In that case, it might be a solution to supplement in other ways and talk to a nutritionist about it. Although researchers still don’t all agree on the use of supplements, they do agree that a shortage of the following is not good for you.

Supplements usually recommended for brain fog are :

7. Take a technology break

You should take a break from digital screens and your workload if you work long hours. Long working hours are associated with various diseases and insufficient recovery for the heart. What you can do is try not to work for more than two hours without taking a ten minute break.

What this will help your brain fog symptoms in the short-term are:

  • Reduce eye strain and headaches caused by prolonged use of computer monitors, tablets or smartphones
  • Reduces the amount of blue light you’re exposed to– which can disrupt your circadian rhythm and lead to sleep problems.
  • Reduces the amount of time you spend on digital social media. Social media is correlated with stress, depression and anxiety.

8. Keep your brain active

Regularly engaging in mentally stimulating activities is a great way to keep your brain active. It also promotes good mental health. These could be online brain training games, sudokus, trying to remember names or other memory games. Learning something new, f.e. knitting or playing bridge, could be useful as well.

The effect of learning a new skill is that it helps your brain to grow neurons and synapses. What this means for you is an increased ability to think quickly, recall memories more easily, solve problems on the spot and maintain focus.

9. Eat less sugar

Some people feel sluggish or ”foggy” after munching on something sweet. If you have this issue too, it might be worth trying a different diet for two weeks and see if you feel better. It could be that your body is sensitive to sugar.

Hypoglycemia or a sugar crash is a common cause of brain fog. When you eat a lot of sugar. Your body produces insulin to keep the glucose levels in your bloodstream consistent. What will happen next is that your blood sugar plummets and which can lead to low energy and difficulty concentrating.

The recommended amount of daily sugar is 35 grams or less for women and children. Those are 9 to 6 teaspoons of sugar. What you can do to manage this problem of sugar sensitivity and brain fog is:

  • Scrap the soft drinks, a 12 ounce can already contains 32 grams of sugar
  • Eat no more than one serving of junk food per day
  • Choose whole grains over refined carbs, like white breads and pasta
  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup as much as possible (most processed foods contain it)

10. Cut back on the coffee

Caffeine is a stimulant that interferes with your circadian rhythm. It blocks adenosine, which is  a chemical that tells your brain you’re tired. Everyday we build up adenosine during the day, however the coffee stops us from sleeping or resting. Adenosine does not get flushed out of our system because of high caffeine use. This way it will hit hard and all at once when our caffeine rush is gone, and result in the deep groggy feel.

Caffeine also contributes to feeling more stress and anxiety in your body. It is shown to boost adrenaline and cortisol in our body. It is also diuretic, that means you might lose a bit more water. As discussed above, high stress, not enough sleep and dehydration are potential causes for brain fog.

Recommendations for daily caffeine intake are :

  • No more than 400 mg per day (maximum 4 cups of brewed coffee)
  • Avoid coffee in the afternoon or the evening
  • when you cut back, do it gradually

11. Cut back alcohol

Similar to coffee, alcohol is also a diuretic. However it can also cause dehydration. What this means is that your body won’t have the water it needs for healthy brain function.

Alcohol will impair your memory and will also damage your brain. What will happen next is a deep groggy feeling when it wears off which could be interpreted as brain fog.

12. Relax

When you’re feeling stressed, your brain releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. High stress levels are not fun and lead to cognitive  impairment. What could you do to manage your stress?

  • Listen to soothing music and make time for yourself
  • Take a short walk outside 
  • take deep breaths
  • Create a list of things that make you happy and add to it whenever possible

What you’re aiming for is relaxation and an improved mood!

13. Do more things you enjoy

Leisure time, or enjoyable activities, are shown to have a positive effect on our health and wellbeing. When you find a hobby, it might be that you find people with the same interests. Having social relationships is a protective factor. This means that it might reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

Start by thinking about what activities made you happy in the past. What new things could you try now?

14. Check the instructions for use of your current medication

It is important to always read the instructions for the use of your medication. The devil is in the details, your brain fog might be because of something you take everyday. It might also have to do with new medication or taking more of the same. Ask  your doctor if your medication could be the cause of your groggy feeling, maybe he or she can recommend an alternative or another dose.

15. Talk about it – take care of your mental health

Talking about your feelings is always a good idea! What you can do to manage brain fog symptoms and focus better is talk about it.  It’s important to speak up if anything feels wrong or off. You are your own mental and physical health advocate and you are the only one who knows how their body should feel.

If you experience brain fog because of a chronic or a mental illness, it can help to talk to a therapist or a psychologist. They are experts in this field and can offer you invaluable information. What they do  is talk with you about your thoughts, feelings and emotions to see if there’s a way for them to help you get back on track! 

Further, they can teach you coping skills to handle stress in a more efficient way. A specific healthcare provider can focus on the autonomic and central nervous system. They are perfect to help you with sleep hygiene, and train cognitive functions.

Conclusion

Brain fog is a temporary feeling of mental confusion or lack of clarity. It can be caused by many things, such as stress, difficulty sleeping, and hormonal changes related to pregnancy or menopause.

We hope that this article has been helpful in helping you understand how to manage brain fog symptoms. The good news is that there are several ways to get rid of brain fog quickly and easily without any lasting effects on your health. 

These 15 medically approved tips will help you improve your mental clarity and concentration, so that you can live life without the haze of mind-numbing persistent fatigue. Adapting your lifestyle can help your sluggish mind. A doctor can check if there are any underlying causes, which should not be left untreated.

 

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