Has calculating your waiter’s tip started to seem like solving a Rubik’s cube? Do you struggle to remember where you put your keys? The good news is that your mental malaise doesn’t necessarily mean you’re losing it. The less good news is that you may be experiencing menopausal brain fog.
Brain fog, while frustrating, isn’t abnormal during menopause. Most women will experience it to one degree or another. If you want to know more about brain fog, or you think you may be dealing with it yourself, we’ve got you covered.
We’ll share everything you need to know by answering four questions: What, Why, When, and How. So let’s dive in!
What Is It?
Brain fog is a term that refers to a loss of processing ability, and short-term, functional memory. Long-term memory remains unaffected, but focusing, processing, and remembering day-to-day becomes difficult. It’s easier to lose your train of thought, and simple mental tasks become a real challenge.
You may find it harder to remember where you parked your car or left your purse. Brain fog may also cause difficulty in things like adjusting your schedule or active problem solving.
Bouts of brain fog can last for days or even weeks. But the temporary status is one of the important distinctions between brain fog, and more serious, permanent diseases like dementia.
Why Does It Happen?
Although research on brain fog has been largely inconclusive, it’s suspected that hormone fluctuation (and estrogen fluctuation in particular) is the main culprit. Researchers have speculated that brain fog could be similar to what women experience during the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy.
The various difficulties of menopause are also certainly a complicating factor in the development of brain fog. Night sweats alone have the potential to wreak havoc on mental performance by cutting into our sleep. If you’ve ever taken a big test after only a few hours of rest, you know what a difference a sleep deficit can make.
Common menopausal stressors such as mood fluctuation, sexual health disruption, and general fatigue can also play a role in making brain fog more pronounced.
When Should I Expect It?
Many women will go through menopause without ever experiencing a notable impact to their mental clarity. For those that do see declines, they can become apparent early in the process of menopause as hormones begin to fluctuate. Brain fog can continue to be an intermittent problem throughout menopause.
It’s important to note that brain fog associated with menopause should end with menopause. Realizing that brain fog is temporary is crucial for maintaining optimism and perspective.
How Can I Fight Back?
You don’t have to wait for menopause to run its course before regaining your mental edge. That’s good news too, considering that menopause can last for years. We’ll share a few ways to clear out the fog.
You probably won’t be shocked to learn that diet is important; we have to give our brains the fuel to perform.
For those of us that aren’t trained nutritionists, knowing what that looks like can be a bit of a challenge. But we’ve found a great article from the BBC that makes things a little simpler. Check it out here to learn what foods you should be adding to your diet for brain health: 10 Foods to Boost Your Brainpower.
The importance of sleep also can’t be overstated. Whatever brain fog you’re prone to will be exacerbated by a lack of rest. We live busy lives that make it hard to prioritize sleep, but if you want to be at your best mentally you have to get under the covers.
Speaking of adjustments, you’ll want to give yourself a break when it comes to the strain your mind is subjected to. High stress, like a lack of sleep, will only make things foggier. One of the simplest, most functional ways to cut down on mental stress is to minimize multitasking. Give your brain only one job at a time, and focus in. This tactic can actually increase satisfaction with your mental performance, and reduce stress levels.
By using these tactics, and understanding that brain fog is temporary, you can successfully navigate this murky terrain. The day is bright and clear on the other side!