What's Causing Your Foggy Brain? Check These 5 Possibilities

A woman stands against a foggy morning landscape
There are many things that can interfere with clear thinking. (Image credit: Foggy thinking photo via Shutterstock)

It happens to almost everyone every now and then: a strange memory lapse, impaired concentration, mental fatigue, or a sensation that a cloud has taken over your sharp minds, leaving you with a foggy brain.

Besides lack of sleep and stress, there are five additional reasons why this may happen. Here's a look at them.

Too many open tabs

One possibility is that you are doing this to yourself. If you are one of those multitaskers who always toggle between projects, it's possible your brain might just give up at some point.

One of the common forms of multitasking in today's world happens on our computers, as we take on multiple tasks, such as paying the bills, ordering lunch, chatting with friends and reading the news, without actually moving or having to be in two places at once. [9 Odd Ways Your Tech Devices May Injure You]

Such digital overload may have an adverse effect on the brain and leave you distracted, foggy-brained and less productive, researchers say.


Studies have shown that memory problems are common among women who are going through menopause. In fact, for some women, their mood, the severity of their hot flashes and their loss of memory abilities may all be linked.

The good news is that studies suggest that memory abilities will likely return to normal once the transition through menopause is over.

Pregnancy brain

In pregnant women, changes in hormone levels can cause a weaker memory. Not all, but many pregnant women report being more forgetful during pregnancy, and studies have suggested it could be due to elevated hormone levels affecting the brain.

Chemo brain

Memory loss is a common experience for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, studies have shown. Dubbed chemo brain, the condition is usually a short-term problem.

The reasons why these memory problems happen are still largely unclear, but it could be a combination of factors, including the cancer itself, effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as well as the stress from having cancer, scientists say.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Some people whose constant brain fog is also accompanied by a tiredness that just doesn't go away might be experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome, experts say.

The symptoms of this syndrome includes memory or concentration loss, sore throat, painful lymph nodes, muscle pain, pain that moves from joint to joint, headache, rough sleep and extreme tiredness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Reducing stress and engaging in relaxation, deep breathing, massage, meditation and yoga are also ways to help cope with chronic fatigue syndrome, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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Bahar Gholipour
Staff Writer
Bahar Gholipour is a staff reporter for Live Science covering neuroscience, odd medical cases and all things health. She holds a Master of Science degree in neuroscience from the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, and has done graduate-level work in science journalism at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has worked as a research assistant at the Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives at ENS.