What to Know About Brain Fog
Does your child struggle to remember events or directions, have trouble concentrating on schoolwork or feel that their thoughts are fuzzy all the time? Is it hard for them to focus on reading and retaining information? This “brain fog” may be a result of anxiety or lack of sleep and can make everyday tasks a struggle, but there are ways to fight back and begin to clear the fog.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog isn’t a disease or medical condition. Rather, it’s used loosely to refer to a set of symptoms that can stem from underlying physical and mental problems. Brain fog includes problems with cognition, memory, focus, and concentration. It can cause your child to feel like their brain is lost in swirling fog, making it difficult to read, carry on conversations, remember what task comes next or accomplish schoolwork. Brain fog can be caused by lack of sleep, stress, allergies, and other nutritional problems, hormonal imbalances, and underlying medical conditions like anemia, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, depression, and migraines. It can also be triggered by traumatic experiences and changes in routine like those brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.5 According to Dr. Mary Beth Bryan, a clinical psychologist with Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital in San Diego, paying attention, problem solving, organizing, and following through on daily tasks may feel extra challenging and difficult as a result of the pandemic.1 It may be hard to focus, initiate action and make good decisions, all symptoms of brain fog. She explains, “When stress and worry are high, the emotional center of our brain becomes activated, which interferes with our ability to think clearly and logically, and function effectively. For the past year, we have had to change the way we do many things, which can lead to feeling unsettled, overwhelmed and confused.”
Brain Fog Signs & Symptoms
Though “brain fog” is not an official medical term, it is commonly used by medical practitioners to describe an experience associated with mental fatigue, memory issues and decreased focus. While the cause of brain fog may change according to the individual, signs and symptoms are somewhat universal and include:
- A sense of confusion or disorientation
- Slowed reaction speed
- Difficulty articulating thoughts or thinking through complex situations
- Lack of attention
Brain Fog and Anxiety
Brain fog is likely to affect people with autism spectrum disorders and other neuropsychiatric disorders, but when it comes to brain fog and anxiety, it may not be clear that there’s a cause-and-effect relationship. We know that a brief episode of anxiety can make it hard to remember familiar directions or other information, and chronic anxiety may cause longer-standing problems with memory and focus, creating the feeling of brain fog. Stress, in general, is one of the top causes of brain fog. So, if your child suffers from anxiety, the high level of stress from anxious thoughts and behaviors may cause brain fog. Other side effects of anxiety, such as poor sleep and poor diet, can also exacerbate brain fog.6, 7, 8
irritability and impulsivity.
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Brain Fog & Lack of Sleep
The CDC reports that a third of children don’t get enough sleep.2 According to researchers in this 2017 study, sleep deprivation disrupts our brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other, leading to brain fog symptoms like temporary mental lapses that affect memory and visual perception.3 The researchers noted that when brain cells were not performing as well as they should, participants in the study did not perform as well on cognitive tasks. This explains why sleep deprivation has been shown to hinder academic performance in adolescents.4
Clearing the Fog
You don’t have to be sure about the cause of brain fog. Whatever is making that “fuzzy brain” feeling, there are some positive steps you can take to help clear the fog.
- Make sure your child gets good sleep, and plenty of it! Now that we know poor sleep is a major cause of both brain fog and anxiety, help your child establish a regular bedtime routine and aim for at least 10 hours of sleep for preschoolers and 9 hours of sleep for school-aged kids and teenagers.
- Clean up your child's diet. Cutting out sugar and eating plenty of whole foods, including healthy protein, fruits, and veggies, can lower inflammation in the body and support healthy brain function. Be sure to give your school-aged child a breakfast packed with protein and healthy fats to provide their brain with enough fuel for a morning of mental work in school.
- Help them manage stress. Easier said than done, right? The main stressor in your kid’s life may be anxiety itself. Taking Brillia to help normalize neurotransmitter activity can make a huge difference as part of a holistic approach to managing symptoms of anxiety. Brillia is a non-prescription homeopathic anxiety medication that requires no official diagnosis and has no harmful side effects like those often associated with prescription anxiety drugs. The active ingredient in Brillia consists of antibodies to the S100B protein, which is a key regulator of various different intracellular and extracellular brain processes. Brillia succeeds by attaching to this protein and reducing symptoms of anxiety at the source so you or your child can feel calmer, focus better, and feel more balanced. You can also help lower your child’s stress level by introducing them to techniques for mindfulness and relaxation.
- Get moving. You probably know from experience that a walk in the fresh air and sunshine can give you a whole new outlook on life and improve your mental clarity. Encourage your child to participate in regular physical exercise, especially outdoors, such as hiking, walking, biking, yoga or playing sports.
These four steps can improve brain function, reduce anxiety and begin to clear the fog that’s been troubling your young child or teen. Check in with your child on the feeling of mental fatigue. Do either of you notice improvement after a good night’s sleep, a game of tag outside or a day of balanced eating?
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