We’ve all been there…
You walk into a room only to forget what you needed…or maybe you find yourself a few pages into a book and realize you absorbed very little of what you just read.
It’s completely normal to have these brief periods of brain fog now and then.
But if it happens on a regular basis, it can affect your work, your creativity, and even your ability to enjoy conversations.
The good news is, sound can be an especially strong ally in helping to clear the mental haze.
So today, we’ll take a look at some of the common causes of brain fog—and two sound-based solutions you can use to help dissolve it.
Brain Fog 101
Brain fog—also known as mental fatigue—is a is a term used to describe a variety of cognitive symptoms including:
- Mental confusion and lack of clarity
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of focus
- Challenges with memory
And if you’ve ever experienced it, you know how challenging it can be to do every day things like remember names and solve problems.
For some, brain fog can be a result of things like lack of sleep, the things you eat and drink and chronic stress.
For others, this mental fatigue can be a symptom of a medical condition or even recent surgery.
Personally, 18 months after having five life-saving surgeries and the five accompanying rounds of anesthesia, I still battle brain fog every day.
But, I’m here to tell you that there are effective, pill-free strategies that can make a big difference in both clearing and energizing your mind.
In fact, I use them myself every day.
Lifting the Fog
Once I realized that my brain wasn’t the same post-surgery, I decided that I would go all-in on giving it the best chance to heal.
To start, I follow a handful of simple, common-sense recommendations:
- Get the daily recommended 7-8 hours of sleep (plus, I take short naps as needed).
- Stay hydrated.
- Take daily walks and do some strength training a few times a week.
- Focus my diet on whole, nutrient dense foods.
- Engage in new learning daily (for me, this usually involves taking music lessons, learning new songs that are challenging, and regular reading).
But there are also a couple of specific, sound-based activities I’ve found have made a big difference in clearing my head.
- Listening to my favorite music (especially from my youth)
Research shows music has a significant impact on brain activity. In fact, it’s been shown to light up regions of the brain in ways that other activities don’t.
It’s also been shown to help various regions of the brain communicate with each other more effectively.
And a 2019 study demonstrated how actively reliving past memories—particularly those involving nostalgic music and movement—helped patients with memory issues improve their quality of life, memory, mood, and social interactions.
I personally prefer uptempo music, especially in the morning as I’m preparing for the day.
- Stimulating the vagus nerve with sound
The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body, responsible for sending chemical messages from the brain to all the major bodily organs, and vice versa.
Stimulation of this nerve has been shown to spur the production of oxytocin, as well as other brain-protecting chemicals like nitric oxide and acetylcholine.
I personally chant vowel sounds like “Eeem” or my favorite Tibetan mantra Om Ah Hum (known as the mantra of purification—you can hear an example here).
The bottom line today is that if brain fog has been interfering in your daily life, don’t give up!
I know how frustrating and demoralizing it can be to feel like you don’t have access to your brain’s full abilities. But with just a little effort each day, you can start on the path to a clear and peaceful mind.
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Choo, T., Barak, Y., and East A., (2019). The Effects of Intuitive Movement Re-embodiment on the Quality of Life of Older Adults With Dementia: A Pilot Study. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. Retrieved from: journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1533317519860331
Tokyo University of Science. (2020). ‘Love hormone’ oxytocin could be used to treat cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from: sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200720093308.htm
Sauer, A. (2014). 5 Reasons Why Music Boosts Brain Activity. Alzheimers.net. Retrieved from:
Watt, J. et al. (2019). Comparative Efficacy of Interventions for Aggressive and Agitated Behaviors in Dementia: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. 171(9): pp. 633 – 642. Retrieved from: annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2753018/comparative-efficacy-interventions-aggressive-agitated-behaviors-dementia-systematic-review-network?utm_source=STAT+Newsletters&utm_campaign=ae689143d5-MR_COPY_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8cab1d7961-ae689143d5-150897321