Brain fog, headaches or difficulty concentrating could indicate lack of shut-eye
Do you need three alarms and four cups of coffee simply to get through your morning? Do you often forget things, feel irritable, or constantly tired? Those are clear signs you’re not getting enough sleep. When it comes to having a healthy brain, sleep – along with proper diet and exercise – is one of the key ingredients to a healthy mind.
For adults, seven to nine hours of sleep are recommended, while children and teenagers need even more. When we don’t get enough sleep, we create stress and inflammation for the body because our brains and bodies have to work harder to make up for the sleep we lost. During sleep, we receive much-needed healing and repair for our organs, brains and cells. When we don’t get enough sleep, we may suffer from brain fog.
What is brain fog?
Suffering from brain fog is essentially the opposite of feeling levelheaded, calm, optimistic and motivated. Brain fog can easily rob you of inspiration and happiness, while increasing your likelihood for symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to research, brain fog is an interaction of “physiological, cognitive, and perceptual factors.”
- Low energy or fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Trouble concentrating
- Forgetfulness and trouble remembering information
- Low motivation, feeling hopeless or mildly depressed
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Difficulty exercising
If you do get your regular seven to nine hours and still have brain fog symptoms, other factors may be at play. Certain deficiencies, coupled with sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates and too much caffeine may impact your brain function.
Linking hormones and inflammation to brain fog
On a cellular level, brain fog can be caused by changes to three primary hormones that determine your mood, energy and focus: dopamine, serotonin and cortisol. Cortisol is often called the body’s primary “stress hormone” because it helps keep you awake and alert, while dopamine and serotonin help keep you joyful, motivated and calm.
When these stress hormones fall too low – for example, serotonin drops due to a very low carbohydrate intake – or climbs too high – such as, when cortisol increases due to stressful events over money – the whole system can be thrown off. Rebalancing your production of these chemicals helps put you on the right track for better brain function.
The other factor that increases brain fog symptoms and robs you of your usual personality spark is high levels of inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases. Inflammation is caused by low-grade, over-activity of the immune system and is tied to mental disorders such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and insomnia.
Foods to avoid that cause inflammation include:
- Corn and soybean oil
- Pasteurized dairy
- Refined carbohydrates
- Conventional meat
- Trans fats
Foods that help eliminate inflammation include:
- Allium veggies (chives, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions and shallots)
- Beans and lentils
- Green foods
- Hot peppers
- Nuts and seeds
By following these guidelines, you will help heal your body, which in turn will give you better, more restful sleep. Begin to enjoy better focus at work, and reduce your levels of stress and irritability – all from better sleep. Your body, and your mind, will thank you!