Is Your Brain In A Fog? Your Sleep Schedule May Be To Blame
Aug 06, 2022
(Photo by Mental Health America)
"It's like the uh, you know... oh man what is the word I'm looking for." We’ve all been there. You can’t remember the words you need when you’re trying to talk about something. They're right there, but you can’t reach them. You feel a bit off. Like everything you try to do is just not working for you. Your brain is in a "fog."
Brain fog is not an actual diagnosis, but it is a feeling that most of us experience at least once in our lives. And it's not a great one. But don't worry, there's a proven way to clear the fog and get back to feeling 100%.
What creates this perfect storm?
Brain fog can be caused by many things: from stress to diet change, hormonal changes to conditions and medications. More often than not though, it's due to lack of good sleep. Sleep is incredibly important to overall health and the rewards are so plentiful.    We all know that we should get good rest, but we often find ourselves without enough.
So many factors control sleep quality, regularity, and duration. You can learn how to take control of certain environmental factors. To use them to get more restful sleep, and improve your focus and willpower throughout the day.
If you haven't been sleeping well and/or your condition worsens, talk to your doctor. They will be able to ask questions and help you get to the bottom of what the issue is.
Paying your sleep debt
Our bodies follow a natural 24-hour clock. This is called your Circadian Rhythm. This process informs our bodies what we should be doing based on the Sun's activity. But we all have a tiny "sun" in our pockets as well. Maybe you work with a medium "sun" and relax by looking at a larger "sun."
So what can you do to regulate your Circadian Rhythm?
Limit the light
Try to take control of the lighting in your environment. Natural and artificial light disrupts the brain's ability to produce melatonin. This is a chemical that's important to the sleep cycle. You may want to try turning off any screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
If you are someone who sleeps during the day, then you may want to limit the amount of light that you allow into your room. Light creeping in from outside seriously confuses our brain's ability to establish a sleep schedule.
Use the Sun
If you can, stand in sunlight when you first wake up. Go outside, stand in a window, any way available to you. If you don't have any sunlight available, go to the brightest lit place you have. Like we said earlier, artificial light can also have some of the same effects as the sun. This will signal to your body that it's time to start the day.
If you work or are up during the day, try going to bed with your curtains open. The rising sun should hopefully help to make you feel less groggy and more prepared for the day. If you don't have a window, there are options for UV-free sun lamps with timers that have a similar effect, and should help as well.
Keep a log
Try tracking your sleep schedule. When are you waking up and falling asleep? How well did you sleep? How did you feel when you woke up? Did you have a dream? A nightmare?
You might want to track other things as well. What did you eat and how long before bed? Did you exercise that day? How were you feeling the day before?
Remember to be patient with yourself; this is a process and it takes time and practice. You may forget occasionally, but just keep going. There's nothing wrong with missing a day, you'll still be getting valuable information.
Set a bedtime and stick to it
Easier said than done these days. But it's helpful to decide on a bedtime and a time to wake up that will give you at least 7 hours of sleep. This should be the same or similar time everyday. Regardless of whether your obligations are different, like on a day off.
It's easier to stick to a uniform wake up time at first. Then you'll naturally start to get tired and fall asleep around the same time of day too.
This bed is made for sleeping
Do you regularly work or answer emails, watch movies, or browse the internet for hours in bed? When you do that your brain starts to think that your bed isn't for sleeping. You can lose that "asleep when your head hits the pillow" experience.
Avoid activities that involve screens in bed. Especially if they are particularly mentally engaging. Try a little light reading in lower light. This may actually help you ease into a more restful state.
Go forth and sleep
We can sometimes make the mistake of thinking about habits as choices. Ones that we consciously make over and over. By definition choices are conscious and habits are habitual. Once something is a habit, it takes effort to change it.
Changing your sleep schedule will take time, hard work, and patience. Everyone's life is not the same. If you are a parent, do shift work, or are a night owl, this process will be a little different for you. It may take some trial and error for you to find what works best for your unique lifestyle.
Get out there and… go to bed!