Dealing with the dreaded midlife brain fog? If you’re also dealing with hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia then allow me to welcome you to perimenopause!
The good news is, you’re not losing it and you’re not alone! Studies show that brain fog is real (duh!) and that 60% of women go through menopause-related cognitive impairment. If you’re curious, check this out.
Out of all the perimenopause symptoms, I think brain fog is the worst (followed closely by insomnia and mood swings). This part of midlife kinda sucks if you ask me!
The name brain fog is a little misleading because it’s more than just not thinking clearly. In my case, my working memory was terrible, and my already sub-par executive function skills reached an all-time low.
I had so much trouble with making and executing plans and staying focused and I nearly drove myself crazy with forgetting things. I’d forget my phone, so I’d go back inside to get it and promptly forget what the hell I was looking for. Or I’d be in the middle of a conversation and forget what I wanted to say. I felt like it was on the tip of my tongue, but I couldn’t find the words to get the thought out. It was so frustrating.
And I absolutely hated running into someone I knew and not remembering their name. I was super embarrassed one day when I ran into one of my son’s elementary school teachers and could not remember her name. This was a woman I saw several times a week, minimum, for an entire school year! I volunteered in her classroom for goodness sake!
That was the incident that prompted me to hit the internet in search of tips for dealing with brain fog because I was over it! Obviously, hormone replacement therapy is an option, and if you’re interested, you should discuss it with your dr. But what about the people who shouldn’t or don’t want to use HRT? What can help with brain fog?
Luckily, I found some tips that really do help!
HOW TO DEAL WITH BRAIN FOG DURING MENOPAUSE AND PERIMENOPAUSE
Getting enough sleep is crucial. A good night’s sleep helps boost your mood and your ability to focus, plus your brain needs deep sleep to sort and store your memories. If night sweats or getting too hot during is a problem for you, then I highly recommend one of these.
We have a memory foam mattress, and it’s super comfortable. The problem is that it retains so much heat that it was next to impossible to get a good night’s sleep. When my husband found the Chilipad, I was pretty skeptical. Still, I was also miserable, so we decided to try it. I mean, you can only crank the AC down so low, you know?! I know it’s not cheap, but it works like a charm. If you’re getting so hot at night that you can’t sleep, this thing is the answer to your prayers. Seriously.
Staying hydrated is as important for your brain function as it is for your body. According to a 2018 analysis of several studies, even being just a little dehydrated affects coordination, concentration, and problem-solving, and it doesn’t take long to get to that point, especially when it’s warm outside. Dehydration might even make your brain shrink! Moral of the story? Make sure you’re drinking enough water! Some apps will help you track your fluid intake, and a lot of paper planners even come with pictures of little cups so you can check or cross out each time your drink 8 ounces of water.
Studies show that regular aerobic exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to your brain. That increased oxygen can enhance your brain function by producing more neurons and enlarging the area of your brain that is in charge of memory and cognitive function. It might also lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. So, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise=less brain fog.
Feed Your Brain.
Eating right is essential for your body and your brain. Fortunately, foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, antioxidants, and B vitamins go a long way towards improving your memory and sharpening your focus. This isn’t an extensive list by any means, but these are all excellent choices:
- citrus fruits
- dark chocolate
- whole grains
- green tea
Keep Your Brain Engaged.
Your brain needs regular workouts too. Learning new skills is a great way to make sure you’re exercising your brain and improving your memory. Learning new things strengthens the networks in your brain by creating new connections between brain cells.
Think about things you’ve always wanted to learn how to do. Maybe you’re interested in ballroom dancing, a new language, or decorating cakes. Or, you might be interested in something that you could eventually turn into a side-hustle like blogging or graphic design or proof-reading.
One of the things I love about blogging is that I’m always learning something new!
Reading and brain games like sudoku and crossword puzzles are also great ways to keep your brain stimulated. If you’re looking for something online, websites like Lumosity have games that are specifically designed to challenge different parts of your brain.
Lower Your Stress Level
Your stress level might be a big part of the problem. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, the “stress hormone” associated with your fight or flight response. Higher levels of cortisol negatively affect memory, attention, organization, and visual perception, and, lucky for us, the link between cortisol and performance was particularly strong in midlife women.
I know lowering your stress level is so much easier said than done, especially these days, but it’s crucial to figure out what’s stressing you out, what can be done about it, and then take action when you can.
When it’s something that’s out of your control, make sure you’re paying attention to taking care of yourself. It’s easy to tell ourselves that we’re fine, but this is one of those things that has the potential to create a vicious cycle, you know? You get really stressed out, which causes brain fog to worsen, which causes more stress, then more brain fog… That could get ugly fast, so be aware!
Science has finally caught up to what women have known for ages: menopause-related brain fog is real. These tips have helped me deal with my midlife brain fog and I can definitely tell when I’m slacking off on any of them!
The good news is, once you’re post-menopausal your brain adjusts to the lack of estrogen and you go back to your old self. The bad news is that perimenopause can last for several years so until then, keep the brain fog away by getting some sleep, exercising, eating right, staying hydrated, learning new things, and doing what you can to minimize stress. Be sure to talk to your doctor if anything seems off or if there are any changes in how you’re feeling.
Do you have any tips for eliminating brain fog that aren’t on this list?
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