4 Potential Reasons You Have Brain Fog and What To Do About It

Published on May 23, 2022

By Gaia Herbs

Gaia Herbs

You may have heard the term “brain fog” recently. If so, you’re probably wondering if you have it and what you can do about it. 

The truth is, brain fog can be a common symptom of a variety of conditions and factors. For example, it is not uncommon to experience brain fog during stress, bouts of sleep deprivation and chronic fatigue, hormonal changes, depression, anxiety, and more.

Does any of that sound familiar? If so, don’t fret. 

Here, we’ll explore brain fog a bit more closely, some of the factors that could be contributing to it, and some practical and natural ways to help you support clear thinking, brain health, and overall well-being. 

What Is Brain Fog?

In general, brain fog is a term used to describe a lack of mental clarity or focus. REF#1658 As mentioned, it can be caused by a variety of factors. 

In many cases, brain fog can also be accompanied by feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, difficulty focusing or concentrating, and other cognitive impairment. All of these can affect cognition. 

So, what’s the connection? Well, the truth is the correlation between brain fog and cognition can be quite complicated. 

In some cases, brain fog is a result of neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain. These are responsible for communicating information throughout the body when stressors occur, and imbalances can affect how you respond to stress. 

Also, things like poor blood flow to the brain can contribute to altered cognition, as oxygen may not be able to reach the brain cells. In addition, stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline can interfere with communication signals within the central nervous system (CNS), leading to confusion and difficulty concentrating. REF#1664 REF#1665

Also, the effects of oxidative stress from free radicals can affect cognition and even contribute to cognitive decline over time. REF#1666

What Causes Brain Fog?

The actual culprit behind brain fog can be hard to nail down. It can have so many potential causes, from chronic fatigue syndrome to anxiety disorders and sleep deprivation to nutritional deficiencies. Brain fog can even be caused by certain medications. REF#1664

Aside from the various medical conditions, certain lifestyle habits (like inadequate sleep, high stress levels, poor diet, and lack of physical activity) are some of the most likely causes for experiencing brain fog. Even things like environmental pollutants (such as air pollution, secondhand smoke, and chemical pollutants) can play a role in brain fog development. REF#1659

Let’s take a quick look at five of the most common causes of brain fog. And afterwards, we’ll examine some ways you can clear things up. 

1. A Lack of Sleep

It should come as no surprise that a lack of sleep has been linked to brain fog. REF#1660 However, poor sleep itself can have many culprits, such as stress. A lack of sleep or disruption of regular sleep cycles can also contribute to the feeling of brain fog. 

Poor sleep can deprive your body of its chance to recharge during the night. This can lead to serotonin imbalances, which have been linked to feelings of stress and a lack of mental clarity. 

2. Stress

You’ve probably experienced first-hand the consequences of stress. It can affect your life and health in various ways. In short, stress is essentially an emotional and physical reaction to demands or pressures that we experience in our lives. 

One potential byproduct of stress is brain fog. REF#1661 For example, stress can contribute to a lack of sleep, which, in turn, can contribute to fuzzy thinking. While the above is certainly not an exhaustive list of the potential reasons for brain fog, hopefully, it gives you an idea of some of the possibilities. 

Thankfully, there are options for those looking for adrenal support to combat stress. Many people looking to soothe feelings of stress turn to adrenal-supporting herbs like ginkgo biloba.

3. Hormonal Changes

The human body is a complex organism, and each system affects the others. For example, hormones can significantly impact the body, for better or worse. Hormonal changes in your body, particularly those you experience as a woman transitioning into menopause, can cause you to feel the fog. REF#1662

In addition to brain fog, hormonal fluctuations during menopause can cause symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and lower libido. All of these are due to lower levels of estrogen, which is important for neuroprotection and cognitive function. 

4. Medical Conditions and Medications

Various medical conditions can also contribute to unclear thinking and memory loss. If you worry your condition might be causing you to feel fuzzy or are concerned about your fogginess, talk with your doctor. While medical conditions can be a reason for brain fog in and of themselves, so too can the medications and treatments used to address them.

What Can You Do About Brain Fog?

Brain fog can be overwhelming, and it may sometimes lead to frustration. Luckily, there’s hope. Here are four ways you can support your body through the brain fog.

Make Sure You Get Plenty of Sleep

It might sound basic, but getting enough sleep is vitally important. It simply can’t be underestimated. A good night of rest must be a priority. So, structure your day and schedule so that you get to bed on time. 

For some, simple tips like reducing caffeine or alcohol consumption can help. Also, turning lights down at nighttime and staying away from screens a couple of hours before bed can help you feel tired when it’s time to go to bed.

Looking for sleep support? Try a relaxing cup of Gaia Herbs Sleep & Relax Herbal Tea.* This USDA Certified Organic herbal tea is made with a calming blend of Passionflower, Lemon Balm, and Chamomile to promote a sense of calm and help prepare your body for a good night's rest.*

Make Sure You Manage Your Stress

Managing stress may not only help you sleep more soundly — it can also help clear your mind, which is a win-win for mental health. While you won’t be able to remove all tension, worry, and trouble, take steps to help your body and mind handle the stress that inevitably comes your way.

For example, turn off your phone for a certain period of time each day, stay active, enjoy an afternoon in nature, and intentionally spend time with loved ones. You can also turn to plant-based stress-support herbal supplements to naturally help support your body and mind.*

Make Healthy Habits a Priority

When it comes to beating brain fog, healthy habits cannot be underestimated. Aside from getting proper sleep, healthy habits, such as eating well and exercising, can have a positive impact on your brain health and the fog you might be experiencing. Aiming for moderate-intensity exercise three times per week is generally recommended to help promote a healthy, thriving brain.*

Take Brain-Nourishing Supplements*

Consuming herbs from the mint family, for example, can help support focus and cognitive function.* Think Spearmint and Peppermint, and you’re on the right track.

Other herbs, like Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), are lesser-known but also great for brain health.* Research suggests Bacopa, also known as Brahmi, has the potential to promote healthy cognition, particularly to help maintain attention speed.* REF#1663

We could go on about more medicinal plants and herbs to help support brain health, as well as medicinal mushrooms like Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus). You could also try nootropic and adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, which is used in Ayurvedic medicine to support feelings of calm.

It’s clear that an abundance of herbs can help support your mind. While these herbs have unique plant constituents that can support cognitive function, they also possess antioxidant properties that can help support long-term health and wellness.*

Other herbs that can support cognitive function and energy levels include:

Before you start taking a new supplement, make sure you confirm its safety with your healthcare provider. While typically safe and natural, some herbs can interact poorly with certain medications or worsen pre-existing conditions. Your holistic doctor or herbalist will have the best instruction on how to go about incorporating herbal remedies into your wellness routine.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of the cause, brain fog can adversely affect a person’s brain function, including concentration, ability to recall information, decision-making, and so much more. While brain fog is not a medical condition in and of itself, it can significantly impact a person's quality of life. 

Remember to get enough sleep, manage stress, and reinforce healthy habits. You can also call on the power of plants by taking brain-nourishing herbal supplements, like Gaia Herbs Gotu Kola Leaf, Bacopa, and Mental Clarity Mushrooms & Herbs.*

With the right care, you can support your brain and naturally help pave the way for clear thinking. 

Consult with your doctor to ensure your brain fog isn’t a symptom of an underlying condition.