It’s 2pm and you’re at your desk. How do you feel? Are you focused and sharp? Or are you zoning out and exhausted?
Chances are, you’re fighting the post-lunch urge to crawl under your desk for a quick siesta like the millions of other people who struggle with brain fog.
Brain fog is common, but that doesn't mean it’s normal. Let’s see what’s really at the root of your afternoon drop in energy and focus, and what you can do to beat it.
What Causes Brain Fog?
Brain fog is a lack of mental clarity and poor concentration that can feel like your head is in the clouds. To some, brain fog feels like mental fatigue, whereas others describe feeling forgetful or dazed.
Brain fog is not a disease itself, but it can be a symptom of another medical condition or health issues such as chronic fatigue syndrome. Medications are also known to cause brain fog.
Beyond medical conditions, lifestyle is the biggest cause of brain fog. A lack of sleep, consistent stress, and poor diet are the most common reasons we feel foggy-headed. The good news is that these are all things we can improve with some smart lifestyle changes.
5 Ways to Beat Afternoon Brain Fog
1. Get better sleep.
One of the most common causes of brain fog is poor sleep. If you’re getting less than 8 hours of sleep, or toss and turn throughout the night, it’s likely that your brain isn’t spending enough time in restorative deep sleep. You wake up already in a mental energy deficit that starts to show midday when your coffee boost wears off.
The only way to fix this is to prioritize your sleep schedule. Make your evening routine as important as your daily meetings or deadlines. Experts believe it can take up to four days to overcome just one hour of sleep loss, so stick to your routine even on weekends.
If getting good quality sleep is a challenge for you, no matter what time you hit the hay, CBD may help. Many people find that taking CBD before bed helps relax their minds and promotes more restful sleep. Joy Organics Broad Spectrum CBD Softgels with Melatonin + CBN for Sleep are formulated just for this purpose: to support healthy sleep cycles and prime your brain for rest.
2. Get moving – outside.
When you’re groggy with brain fog, exercise is often the last thing you feel like doing. In this case, however, a brisk walk outside could be the very thing to pull your head out of the clouds and restore your sharp focus.
Exercise stimulates blood flow throughout your body – and especially to your brain. Researchers find that regular exercise “helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce… inflammation and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.”
So, go for a walk, strike some yoga poses, or even lift a few small hand weights while you dance to an upbeat song. When you do this quick afternoon exercise outside, you multiply the benefits. Studies show that spending time outdoors reduces cortisol levels and enhances concentration and short-term memory. Just what you need to power through the last half of your day!
3. Eat brain food for lunch.
Food is fuel. Without the right nutrients, our brains can’t function properly. Eating inflammatory foods and food sensitivities can also sabotage our attention. The most common brain-fog-triggering ingredients are peanuts, aspartame, and dairy.
Set yourself up for a focused afternoon with a healthy lunch that supports mood, energy, and cognition. Some of the best foods to eat to beat brain fog are foods rich in antioxidants (colorful fruits and vegetables), B vitamins (lean meats, organ meats, beans, eggs, and dark leafy greens), and omega-3 fatty acids (cold water fish, avocado, nuts, and seeds).
Get inspiration with these brain-boosting make-ahead lunch recipes:
4. Try a brain-stimulating meditation.
Meditating can help you break through – or even prevent – that pesky afternoon brain fog.
Not a big meditator? Not a problem. Studies show that even brief meditation breaks throughout the day are enough to stimulate the brain to enhance attention, memory, and mood.
Next time you feel an afternoon slump creeping in, swap the coffee for a meditation break. Tune into a guided meditation like this one, or simply spend a few minutes focusing on your breathing in a quiet space.
5. Keep a stress-relief tactic on hand.
Stress doesn’t just affect how you feel emotionally. It also impacts how your brain and body function – right down to a cellular level. Studies show that stress weakens the nervous system, exhausting your mental energy and reducing your ability to think clearly.
Managing stress well isn’t a quick fix – it’s a lifestyle. As you discover the adjustments needed to reduce your personal stress load, here are a few quick tactics to ease tension and boost your brain power.
- Perk up with a stress-relieving, focus-enhancing aromatherapy oil like peppermint or lemon.
- Press eye acupressure points to beat mental fatigue.
- Build 5-minute breaks into your day to stretch or gaze at nature.
- Take a CBD supplement to calm your mind.
- Unwind at night with a CBD bath bomb.
The afternoon slump may be common, but that doesn’t mean you have to struggle through it! When brain fog starts to interfere with your work, school, or social life, it’s time to take action. Try these tips to protect your brain against the afternoon fog.
Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.