It’s Not In Your Head: Thinking Hard Makes Us Feel Worn Out

It’s Not In Your Head: Thinking Hard Makes Us Feel Worn Out

Have you ever had a long few hours of mental work and felt completely worn out after? Researchers say there might be something to this. A recent study published in Current Biology found that “when intense cognitive work is prolonged for several hours, it causes potentially toxic byproducts to build up in the part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. This, in turn, alters your control over decisions, so you shift toward low-cost actions requiring no effort or waiting as cognitive fatigue sets in”. This was discovered through the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy which monitors “brain chemistry over the course of a workday.” The group of participants doing hard work showed signs of fatigue, reduced pupil dilation, and a shift in their choices “toward options proposing rewards at short delay with little effort.” The researchers also found higher levels of glutamate in synapses of the brain’s prefrontal cortex in this group. The researcher’s advice? Rest and sleep! “There is good evidence that glutamate is eliminated from synapses during sleep.” 


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

Taylor Marks is a certified holistic health coach and professionally trained chef from The Institute of Culinary Education. Her passions include the latest research in health science, culinary arts, holistic wellness, and guiding others towards feeling their best.