Cog Fog – It is not a medical term. It is short for cognitive fog and the term is used to describe not having full mental clarity.  Having trouble remembering something or having difficulty focusing on a thought or a task is something that happens to everyone, and even more with Seniors. There are many causes of Cog Fog including stress, diet, medications, medical conditions, screen time, and lack of sleep.  Regardless of what might be the cause of an individual’s Cog Fog, it can be combated.

The brain is a muscle, and it requires exercise.  Like all the muscles in our bodies it has a “use it or lose It” ultimatum.  Finding ways to challenge the mind can be hard for Seniors, especially after retiring, but it is necessary.

Traditional mind sharpening puzzles and games are great.  Some examples include jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, word searches, mazes, and sudoku.  Staying engaged and learning will stimulate brain cells and keep them active.  Reading or listening to books is also effective, especially if the interest can be shared and discussed, like in a book club.

Sleep is also crucial in combating Cog Fog, and experts see a connection between screen time prior to bed and poor sleep. Turning off smartphones, laptops, and televisions at least 30 minutes before going to sleep will dramatically help an individual’s rest.  There are two crucial chemicals that are being released and suppressed by screens: dopamine and melatonin.

Engaging with one’s smartphone releases dopamine which stimulates the brain and keeps it awake.  The blue light that is omitted by screens is supposed to imitate sunlight and has been found to suppress our bodies natural melatonin.  People who fall asleep to their phones or tablets do not get a solid night’s sleep.  They may not be able to fall asleep or they will wake throughout the night.  Leaving your devices charging in another room when you go to bed is a great habit to start.  Doing something on paper, rather than on a screen before bed can also dramatically help a person’s sleep.  Some examples of activities which you could do before bedtime is reading or journaling, as these help the body naturally relax.

Sleep and brain exercises are the two most important things you can do to help strengthen your mind and fight Cog Fog.  Making small habit changes and finding ways to challenge the mind will make a huge difference in a person’s mental capacity.

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