Mental fatigue can be worrying but the good news is that it is not an illness in itself, it is instead a symptom that is likely to be caused by extended periods of demanding cognitive activity, lack of sleep, poor diet or dehydration.
Typical symptoms of mental fatigue include an inability to concentrate, making more mistakes than usual, difficulty in learning and clumsiness.
Mental fatigue has also been proven to impair your physical performance and will inevitably reduce your productivity at work as well.
What causes mental fatigue?
The causes of mental fatigue can be as simple as overworking the brain or making poor lifestyle choices. More than likely you will already have an idea of what is causing it for you. Typical causes usually include:
- Working the brain too hard – continuously engaging in a difficult task for too long is a classic cause of mental fatigue. Forcing yourself to continue to stay focused on the task will just increase the mental fatigue.
- Not getting enough sleep – it is recommended that you get at least eight hours a night. If you are feeling the effects of mental fatigue you may need to factor in a good 12-hour sleep to get you back on track again.
- Lack of exercise – exercise increases the amount of oxygen in the blood. Take frequent breaks when working and use the time to get outside and walk around if possible.
- Poor diet – a diet high in refined carbohydrates with lots of sugar and caffeine will cause temporary spikes in energy levels, followed by low periods
- Dehydration – dehydration reduces brain function, so make sure you are regularly drinking plenty of water
Mental fatigue often occurs later in the working day, so taking time out for some meditation or a power nap can help give your brain the boost it needs to see you through the day.
Mental fatigue can also be a symptom of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), general anxiety disorder or depression, so if you feel that none of the above apply to you, please contact your physician who can help diagnose and treat the condition.