It’s something that we’ve all experienced at one time or another, but what if you notice it happening more often? Is it something that should concern you? Why are you so forgetful lately?
Moments of forgetfulness can happen to anyone, but it becomes frustrating and even frightening when it starts to interfere with your daily life. You might begin to wonder if you’re seeing early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Maybe you think of family members that have dealt with those debilitating diseases, and you begin to worry even more. “But I’m still young,” you think, “How could this be happening already?”
These concerns are understandable.
Trust me, I get it.
The brain fog was REAL.
Critical thinking wasn’t an option until possibly mid-afternoon, if at all. Creativity was rarely something I could tap into. When trying to have conversations, I’d struggle to find the right words to explain something and it was difficult to think on my feet.
It scared me so much.
Here I was in my early 30s, and I felt like my cognitive abilities were on a serious decline.
Dementia runs on both sides of my family. Both of my grandmothers and my great uncle had it. And I had read that people were getting it earlier and earlier these days.
Was I next? And was this the start of it?
Fortunately, I got to the root cause of my foggy brain and it lifted just like a morning fog lifts as the sun burns it off.
I feel sharper and have more mental clarity now at 40 than I did in my early 30s.
And this is possible for you too.
The good news is that many factors play into forgetfulness and are not permanent or serious. In fact, your forgetfulness can be an important piece of a puzzle to identifying the root cause of other symptoms you might have.
So if it’s not dementia or Alzheimer’s, why are you so forgetful?
5 Reasons You Might Have Trouble Remembering
Before you conclude that your brain is shriveling away or that your brain cells are dying off for good, here are some of the most common causes of forgetfulness I see in my practice and some simple solutions.
Have you ever had a doctor reach the end of your exam with no answers other than “You’re probably just stressed”? Usually, there’s a lot more going on than stress, but it’s true that stress can play a significant role in our physical and mental health, including our memory. So evaluating your stress levels is a good place to start if you’re experiencing forgetfulness.
When you have a lot going on in your life, your mind is distracted, and it’s harder to focus. This, of course, makes remembering tasks or important information more difficult.
For example, imagine you have a big deadline coming up at work. The night before it’s due, your child tells you soccer practice is canceled tomorrow, and he needs to be picked up earlier than usual. Then your husband mentions that you’re out of eggs and asks if you can pick some up on the way home. Finally, your best friend calls to say she needs photos for a high school reunion slideshow by this weekend.
What’s going to happen? Your mind will prioritize your work deadline and push out the other “noise” because the additional information wasn’t your focus at that moment.
You’re not going to forget all three of those other things you needed to remember, but don’t be surprised if you forget to buy the eggs at the very least. So does that mean you are dealing with memory loss? Or do you just have too much going on at once?
Stress makes it difficult to focus and not become overwhelmed with information. Multitasking is especially going to impact your memory because of this. It’s estimated that only 2.5% of people can multitask without losing focus and completing tasks inefficiently.
Slow down and stop trying to multitask. Learning to say “no” is the secret weapon to combating stress and improving your memory. Kindly decline if you don’t have time to sift through slideshow pictures. You can also delegate tasks or schedule them further out if needed.
Keeping a detailed calendar or list of anything out of the ordinary will also be helpful. It’s ok to rely on a notebook when a lot is going on in your life. You can’t turn off the world around you, but you can manage it better and avoid the dread of forgetting important events or tasks.
Lack of Sleep
The amount and the quality of sleep you get each night also affects your memory. Sleep is essential to strengthening memories you formed during the day and connecting them to other memories. Sleeping helps you prepare your brain for creating memories, and once those memories are formed, it helps save the new information in your brain so you won’t forget later.
When you don’t sleep long enough or have a restful night’s sleep, the neurons in your brain become overworked, and it struggles to function correctly.
Not only this, but it actually puts your body into “flight or fight”, raising your cortisol levels and, chronic stress can actually lead to the body putting energy to only the important systems of the body (lungs, heart, etc) and removing energy from the non-critical systems (digestion, hormones, thyroid, etc).
Additionally, lack of sleep can lead to beta-amyloid deposits, a protein linked to memory decline and even dementia.
So, long-term, sleep is extremely important for long-term cognitive health.
Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Aim to be in bed before 10 pm as we get our most restorative rest between 10 pm and midnight. Also, that’s when your melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) peaks. If you don’t listen to your body when it feels tired, cortisol (your “let’s get stuff done” hormone) will kick in, and that’s when you get that “second wind,” making it difficult to fall asleep.
Pay attention to when you notice you’re getting more forgetful or if you just have more brain fog in general. Does it correlate with your menstrual cycle? Many women find that they have more trouble remembering just before their period starts during the luteal phase of their cycle.
One reason for this is if your body isn’t producing enough progesterone during this phase and you become estrogen dominant. When your hormones are balanced, progesterone should be dominant the two weeks leading up to your period. This imbalance can affect your memory.
Additionally, women who have more testosterone, such as those who suffer from PCOS, tend to experience more brain fog during the luteal phase.
Focus on balancing your hormones. You may need to adjust your eating patterns to balance your blood sugar, change your sleep habits, analyze your exercise routine, and evaluate your intake of estrogenic toxins. Many of my clients have found success with seed cycling as well.
The best place to start is with a DUTCH test (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones). It will give you an extensive breakdown of where your hormones levels are at so you can bring your hormones into balance faster and lift the brain fog for good.
An overactive and underactive thyroid can cause memory problems, and long-term be linked to Alzheimer’s. Of course, not everyone with thyroid dysfunction will get Alzheimer’s, but your memory can still be affected. Low thyroid hormone, in particular, can alter your brain function, making learning and memorizing difficult. If gone untreated, the part of the brain responsible for memory, the hippocampus, can begin to shrink.
A full thyroid panel will clarify whether or not your thyroid is to blame for your memory loss or forgetfulness. Other symptoms of thyroid dysfunction include weight gain, persistently dry skin, hair loss, and oversensitivity to cold. The good news is that when a thyroid problem is caught in time, diet and lifestyle changes and supplementation can reverse the symptoms and support your thyroid function.
Note: Most doctors do not run a full thyroid panel. They usually only run TSH and maybe T4. There are several other markers that can give us a full picture of what’s going on with your thyroid and can help us catch thyroid issues early. It’s a test that I can order for you if your doctor won’t run all the numbers.
Before you panic that you’re losing your mind for good, take a look in your medicine cabinet. Anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, sleeping pills, antihistamines, narcotic painkillers, anti-seizure medications, and many more list forgetfulness as a side effect.
Ask your doctor about possible alternatives to these medications without the side effect of forgetfulness. Of course, the best solution would be to get to the root cause of anxiety, insomnia, pain, and allergies to eventually ditch the medications for good.
The proper tests and a holistic evaluation will get you on the right path to healing. Remember that healing, not just sticking a bandaid on a problem, takes time, sometimes many months or years.
Get Your Memory Back!
If you feel like you’re losing your mind some days, have no fear. It’s unlikely you’re getting early-onset Alzheimer’s or dementia. Pay close attention to when you’re extra forgetful so you can pinpoint the cause. If de-stressing isn’t doing it for you, check out The Root Cause Method, my signature 1-1 program. You’ll gain access to the necessary tests and easy-to-follow protocols so you can get to the bottom of your forgetfulness, reverse it, and get on with your life.
If you’re interested in exploring what this could look like for you, book a complementary call with me.
On this call, we’ll get crystal clear on:
What’s going on with your health
What you’ve tried that’s worked and what hasn’t
Where you want to be
And my recommendations to get you there