“Am I still tired, or what?”
“Brain fog includes symptoms of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity. It is avoidable and treatable.” ~ Deane Alban
When you get seven to nine hours of sleep, you generally wake up quite refreshed. Sure, there may be a bit of the “sleep eye,” but it’s nothing a cup of coffee and a hot shower won’t cure. A non-morning person may need a bit (maybe, a lot) more coffee – but they’ll still shake it off.
Odds are if you constantly feel yucky and groggy feeling during the morning hours, there’s something amiss. Brain fog, while not a medically recognized term, is a real condition. Brain fog is also quite common – but it isn’t a healthy or normal state.
We’re going to discuss five big reasons for brain fog, as well as how to combat this crappy feeling. We’ll call these “fog fixes” just for fun.
Here are 5 reasons you still feel tired when you wake up:
Reason #1: Lack of quality sleep
Big surprise what takes numero uno, right? A surprise to (*counting hands*) no one? Alright moving on.
Per the National Sleep Foundation or NSF, “at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleeping disorders … 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more.”
Without proper sleep (around 7-9 hours for a healthy adult), the brain and body can not be replenished. A sluggish mind plus a sluggish body equals a bad day.
Fog Fix #1: Get in the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every night, even on the weekends. Have a routine set for bedtime (e.g., shower, put on jammies, dim lights, read for 30 minutes, lights out.)
Reason #2: Poor nutrition/bad diet
While you may be eating healthy, it doesn’t mean you’re getting the necessary amount of nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies are prevalent – and a big reason for brain fog.
Fog Fix #2: Ensure that you’re (a) eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, and (b) supplementing for shortcomings in nutritional intake. Vitamins A, C, and B12, along with calcium, magnesium, and zinc are very important for brain health.
Taking a high-quality multivitamin is a good option to get all essential and non-essential nutrients. Pure food sources are even better.
Reason #3: Chronic stress
There’s this widespread myth in society that subjecting yourself to constant stress for the sake of work (“productivity” *cough* “BS!” *Cough*) is noble.
We have all the technology to make every piece of information in the world available at our fingertips; yet, less than one-quarter of Americans work for a company that allows remote work. Ironically, over 80 percent of people who work from home report higher satisfaction.
Productivity? Data studies show remote work increases it dramatically.
Work is a huge part of the stress epidemic in this country (and others.) It’s a problem yearning to be corrected – and we’re failing miserably. Limited free time, stagnant wages, and more responsibilities are also contributing to this epidemic.
Fog Fix #3: Of course, check if your employer allows any kind of remote work. Also, keep a schedule (as much as you may hate the idea) as doing so will allow you to see where your time is spent. This allows you to adjust said time accordingly. Take any and all measures to reduce your stress levels. (This list is a great place to start!)
Reason #4: Stagnant lifestyle
As in we’re turning into constantly tired couch potatoes. Something that is almost justified given the insane time-stress we’re always facing.
(I’ve dealt with this issue myself, working and studying (still); gaining weight and putting back on weight. Not an easy cycle to break.)
But this stress is exactly why we need to make time for exercise. Consider the following:
– Even moderate exercise releases endorphins and neutralizes cortisol. The former mechanism gives us that euphoric post-workout feeling; the latter minimizes stress.
– There is a proven correlation between exercise and brainpower.
– The act of walking at a reasonable pace is one of the best exercises to clear your mind.
Fog Fix #4: Take simple steps to get more exercise. You needn’t train like a cyclist for the Tour De France. A brisk 15-30 minute daily walk will suffice. Of course, as time permits, ratchet up the intensity a notch. You can do it!
Reason #5: Dehydration
Consider this statistic: it takes only a 2% drop in hydration levels to affect attention and memory. Consider a second statistic: more than three-quarters of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Water gives the brain the electrical energy needed for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes. H2O is also required for the production of brain neurotransmitters and hormones.
Fog Fix #5: This is a simple solution, yet it can be hard to remember. Carry a water bottle with you at all times. Even better, keep a water bottle at every location where you spend chunks of time.
If you make a conscious effort to do this, you will drink more water. As a result, you’ll be more focused; you’ll think much faster, and you’ll maximize your creativity!