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Brain Fog & Sleeping Brains in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Updated June 13, 2014

Brain Fog & Sleeping Brains in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Has brain fog ever made you feel like your brain just "shut off" or "went to sleep" for a bit? New research on sleep-deprived brains suggests that could be exactly what's happening.

Sleep is abnormal and non-restorative in both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, which has lead many researchers to believe that long-term sleep deprivation is central to the illnesses.

Now, in research on rats, scientists have shown for the first time that after sleep deprivation, parts of the brain can briefly behave as if they are asleep. They linked these "outages" to reduced performance in tests.

Indications for Brain Fog

This finding is a long way from saying that the brains of humans with sleep deprivation do the same thing, and even farther from applying it to specific conditions. I have to say, though, that I'd put money on something like this happening in us.

During episodes of brain fog, I've blanked out a few seconds of conversation, several minutes of a television show, and, once, the entire rush-hour drive home (which, in retrospect, was terrifying!)

It's not like I'm simply distracted by something, either. It's like part of my brain turns off for a few seconds. I don't hear anything, or record anything to memory. It's like a blank spot on a tape.

Our brains are complex and different areas are highly interconnected. Very few activities involve only one area. Having random areas briefly go to sleep could explain a lot about how brain fog works. Communication takes up a lot of the brain, so it makes sense that we'd have problems if one of these areas dosed off for a few seconds while we were talking.

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Photo © D-BASE/Getty Images

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