How To Get Rid of Brain Fog

You’ve felt it: confused, irritable, spacey, unable to focus on one thing. So-called brain fog can strike after a long day or first thing in the morning. It’s a scourge for a healthy, happy, and balanced life. Learn about the causes of brain fog and discover guided meditations that bring back mental clarity and energy.
Chief Editor Insight Timer Blog
brain fog mental fatigue
Chief Editor Insight Timer Blog

We’ve all felt it: confused, irritable, spacey, unable to focus. Brain fog can strike after a long day or first thing in the morning. Regardless of when it happens, it can throw off our balance and make it difficult to get much-needed tasks done. We’ll dive into everything you need to know about brain fog, including what it is, what causes it, and how to get rid of it.

Key takeaways

  • Understand that brain fog is usually a symptom of a greater underlying issue.
  • Discover the potential causes of brain fog, from hormonal imbalances to neurological conditions, and how it can impact your health.
  • Learn how you can fight brain fog with sleep, nutrition, hydration, meditation, and stress management.

What is brain fog? 

Brain fog refers to a state of mental cloudiness or confusion where you experience difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or thinking clearly. It isn’t a medical condition but rather a term for symptoms that can affect your ability to think. These symptoms can be caused by lifestyle changes, medical conditions, and more. 

Because brain fog can impact daily life functioning and productivity, it’s essential to identify and address the underlying causes to free yourself from its grip. 

What are the symptoms of brain fog? 

Brain fog can manifest differently for everyone, usually fluctuating in intensity and duration. The common symptoms of brain fog include:

  • difficulty concentrating 
  • feeling mentally sluggish or slow
  • experiencing memory problems
  • impaired decision-making
  • trouble processing information
  • feeling disorganized or lacking clarity
  • easily getting overwhelmed or irritable
  • low energy or fatigue

Individually, these cognitive symptoms can be frustrating and draining. Combined, they can drastically impact daily requirements and overall quality of life. Many of the struggles associated with brain fog are experienced internally, and therefore, those around us are often unable to see the toll that it takes.

a course to decrease brain fog

How to get rid of brain fog 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to treating brain fog. It’s like solving a puzzle: You need to figure out which piece you’re missing. 

We’ll cover a few of the ways you can treat brain fog below, but keep in mind that it’s important to identify what’s causing it for you (more on that in a later section). 

Better sleep habits

When we’re busy or stressed, sleep can be the first thing to take a hit. However, better sleep habits are crucial for alleviating brain fog. The CDC recommends that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Reducing brain fog starts with:

  • Establishing a consistent sleep schedule
  • Reducing screen time before bed
  • Lowering alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine

Looking to get better sleep? Learn more about developing a healthy evening routine that meets your unique needs here. You can also browse through our free collection of sleep meditations to calm the mind and relax the body before sleep.

Improved diet and hydration

Nutrition research shows that we need a supply of amino acids and essential fatty acids to support optimal brain function. A healthy diet consists of:

  • meat  
  • fatty fish  
  • dairy products
  • healthy oils 
  • nuts and seeds
  • leafy green vegetables 
  • berries 

These foods can aid healthy hormone production and immune system function and protect brain cells from damage.

Additionally, limiting the intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and excessive caffeine can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent energy crashes that contribute to mental fog. Staying hydrated is also crucial for supporting blood flow to the brain and removing toxins that can lead to brain fog.


Meditation is a powerful tool for combating brain fog and improving mental clarity. By practicing mindfulness meditation, we can train our minds to focus on the present moment, letting go of distracting thoughts and draining worries that contribute to mental haze. 

A meta-analysis of studies suggests that mindfulness can help individuals better deal with clinical and non-clinical cognitive challenges. Regular meditation can improve:

    • attention
    • concentration
    • cognitive function
    • stress levels
    • fatigue
    • …and more.

Fight brain fog with regular meditation. Explore thousands of free mindfulness meditations on Insight Timer to enhance focus, deepen relaxation, and increase energy.

Stress management techniques

Chronic stress can impair cognitive performance and contribute to already-existing mental health struggles. Engaging in relaxing activities can help reduce cortisol levels and, therefore, the associated brain fog. Some ways to relax include:

To help you de-stress and clear your mind, we put together this playlist of free brain fog meditations to help overcome mental fatigue.

  1. Mental Oxygen just-a-minute 1:22
  2. Meditation for a Tired Body & Mind Matthew Young 17:49
  3. Calm The Scattered Mind Spencer Burnside 13:54
  4. Morning Meditation For Energy And Clarity Manoj Dias 15:18
  5. Start Your Day With Clarity, Vigor & Grace Shakti Sutriasa 11:37
  6. Sharp and Focused Mind Julie Smith 18:39
  7. Breath Practice For Focus And Productivity Brooke Blocker 8:33

What causes brain fog? 

Identifying the root cause of brain fog can be the first step to freeing yourself from it. Many factors can contribute to the onset of brain fog, ranging from lifestyle habits to underlying medical conditions.  

In this section, we’ll explore some of the common causes of brain fog, including poor sleep, stress, diet, hormones, medications, and neurological conditions. However, it’s important to check with your healthcare provider for tailored medical advice and treatments.

Lack of sleep

Failing to get enough sleep is a surefire way to decrease cognitive function. Sleep deprivation disrupts the brain’s ability to:

The result? Mental fatigue and trouble thinking clearly. Furthermore, inadequate sleep can disrupt neurotransmitter function and impair communication between brain cells, making clouded thinking even more likely. 

Are you struggling with falling asleep lately? See if our guide to better sleep can help you create the ideal sleep environment.


Being stressed is increasingly common nowadays, but it can have detrimental physiological and mental effects. When experiencing chronic stress, our bodies release cortisol, which can reduce mental performance over time. Long-term exposure to cortisol can lead to:

  • brain inflammation
  • inability to focus
  • memory problems
  • mental fatigue

Read more about the effects of constant busyness on our health and well-being.

Dehydration and poor diet

If we don’t consume enough nutrients and water, we can create serious health conditions, and our brains may suffer. Research confirms this: Dehydration negatively impacts mood and brain functioning, reducing blood flow to the brain and disrupting neurotransmitter balance. 

Similarly, a diet lacking essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids can deprive the brain of the fuel it needs to function optimally. Processed foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats can also cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which makes brain fog even worse.

Hormonal imbalances

Fluctuations or disruptions in hormone levels, such as those seen during menopause, pregnancy, thyroid disorders, or adrenal fatigue, can impact cognitive function. For example, studies show that “pregnancy brain,” caused by hormonal changes, is a real phenomenon that remodels brain architecture and neural function. 

Hormones play a crucial role in regulating the following:

  • emotional control
  • neurotransmitter activity
  • energy metabolism

Neurological conditions

Neurological conditions can lead to inflammation, neural pathway disruption, and mental impairments — one of the symptoms of which is brain fog. There are many chronic and long-term conditions that can create haziness, including:

  • multiple sclerosis
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Lyme disease
  • long COVID 

If you’re concerned your brain fog may be due to one of the conditions listed above, please consult with a medical professional.

Medication side effects 

While medications can be crucial in controlling existing conditions, they can also create unwanted side effects. Many medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines, and antipsychotics, can cause cognitive impairments — some even double as sedatives and result in brain fog symptoms like confusion and memory loss.  

If you experience brain fog as a result of medication, it’s important to discuss it with your healthcare provider. They can help you monitor your symptoms and adjust dosage accordingly.

What are the emotional and cognitive impacts of brain fog?


When you’re struggling to think clearly or function at your usual level, it’s understandable to get overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. This can create a vicious cycle where the anxiety makes the brain fog worse and vice versa. You can try to break the cycle with mindfulness exercises, meditation, and therapy.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, explore this free course by Dr Judson Brewer on unwinding your anxious mind with mindfulness techniques.


Brain fog can be exhausting. It often brings up feelings of hopelessness, despair, and mental fatigue. This can make it challenging to engage in your daily activities and maintain relationships. On top of that, the mental limitations caused by depression, such as difficulty focusing and memory problems, can worsen brain fog symptoms. Because of their reciprocal relationship, it’s important to address and treat both conditions.


It isn’t uncommon to become agitated when you’re dealing with a seemingly never-ending problem. The frustration of not being able to think clearly or perform tasks efficiently can cause chronic irritability and difficulty regulating emotions. This often coincides with mood swings (which we’ll cover in more detail below).

Mood swings

For many, brain fog will come and go without warning. These fluctuations can quickly trigger shifts in mood and emotions. Frequently, those experiencing brain fog find themselves switching between periods of frustration, irritability, and sadness as they struggle to cope with cognitive barriers. 

Experiencing mood swings that feel hard to manage? Listen to this talk on emotional regulation to work through big feelings safely. 

Reduced attention span

Trying to sustain focus when your mind is clouded may feel impossible. This study states that the most common descriptors of brain fog include difficulty focusing and lack of concentration.

Impaired focus and attention spans can further lead to: 

    • reduced productivity 
    • decreased performance
    • frequent dissociation
    • forgetfulness
    • …and more.

Trying to study or work but keep getting distracted? Try one of these free focus meditation tracks to help you stay on task.

Slow information processing

This brain fog study found that the top-ranked words that describe brain fog included “forgetful,” “cloudy,” and “difficulty focusing, thinking, and communicating.” When brain function is compromised, tasks that require taking in and processing new information will likely take longer to complete. This can impact anything from understanding instructions to responding to questions or simply sending an email. 

Impaired decision-making

A 2023 scale development study for brain fog decided that three of the main elements of experiencing brain fog were mental fatigue, impaired cognitive acuity (having trouble thinking clearly), and confusion. If your ability to process information is impacted, it can be difficult to make sound judgments and informed decisions. For many, this spills over into work, relationships, personal health, finances, etc. 

Furthermore, impaired cognitive performance can increase reaction time, which is vital in situations that require split-second decisions, such as when driving. It’s important to practice awareness when struggling with brain fog to keep yourself safe.

Decreased creativity

Brain fog can inhibit the brain’s ability to make novel connections and engage in creative problem-solving, leading to mental stagnation and trouble thinking outside the box. This can be particularly challenging in creative professions or for those who rely on creativity in their daily lives.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) on brain fog 

What is the best vitamin for brain fog?

Vitamin B12 is considered one of the best vitamins for combating brain fog, as it plays a crucial role in neurological function and neurotransmitter production. To help relieve brain fog and improve your neurological health, try incorporating foods rich in vitamin B12, such as:

  • fish
  • meat
  • dairy products
  • fortified cereals
  • nutritional yeast
  • B12 supplements

How do you get rid of brain fog fast?

It’s important to identify the underlying cause of brain fog to prevent its recurrence. However, to alleviate brain fog in the short term, prioritize hydration and brain-boosting foods and engage in relaxation techniques for stress reduction.

Does brain fog go away?

Brain fog is typically a symptom of an underlying problem. If the cause of the symptoms is identified and treated, brain fog can be eliminated altogether. Consult your healthcare provider for guidance on treating underlying conditions.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be considered as medical advice. If you have concerns about brain fog or any other conditions mentioned in this article, please seek help from a medical professional.


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Meditation. Free.