6 Common Reasons for a Lack of Concentration (and Advice on How to Fix It)

Charlotte Miller

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Does your mind start drifting after half a page of reading? Do you find yourself nodding along to what your friend is saying, but realizing that you have no idea what they’re talking about?

If you can’t keep yourself focused on a book, email, or even a podcast, you might be suffering from a lack of concentration and focus. Difficulty concentrating can rob you of productivity and enjoyment in many areas of your life.

If you want to know how to fix poor concentration, keep reading. This article will explain 6 of the most common causes of a lack of concentration and how to deal with them.

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  1. Poor Sleep

Sleep restores our brains after the stress of the day. Inadequate sleep impairs many of our cognitive functions. Whether you don’t get enough sleep or your sleep is poor quality, you’ll be lethargic all day, causing a lack of concentration of focus.

If you can’t concentrate due to poor sleep, treat the cause of your sleep problems. If you have medical problems that prevent good sleep, like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, see your doctor for medical treatment. 

Make sure to practice good sleep hygiene: get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. As well, avoid an irregular sleep schedule. If you get an adequate amount of sleep, but your wake up and sleep times are different every day, your sleep will be of poor quality and you won’t wake up rested. 

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Cellphones and Poor Sleep

These days, the most common cause of poor sleep is using your cellphone before bed. Like many people, you may use your phone even after you get into bed, but many studies have shown that using your smartphone in bed has many negative effects on your sleep. Not only does the blue light from the screen stimulate your brain to stay awake, but scrolling through content gets your mind racing as well. 

It all adds up to a wide-awake brain and poor sleep.  If this is the cause of your lack of concentration, put your phone away at least an hour before it’s time for bed.

  1. Too Much Screen Time

For most of us, the Internet is everything — we work, play, relax, and talk to loved ones online. 

However, digital connectivity comes with a neurological cost. Research has shown that constant cellphone notifications damage our concentration and productivity, and even lower our IQ. In fact, being bombarded with notification interruptions can destroy our concentration just as much as losing an entire night’s sleep.

The always-available lure of the screen keeps us checking for the latest notification. Not only that, but short-form digital content habituates us to shorter attention spans. If you have difficulty concentrating in your everyday life, your phone or laptop might be the culprit. 

What’s the solution? Try a digital detox. Leave your phone off for a few days, or plan to use it only for one hour per day, and watch your concentration improve.

  1. Stress

Stress is a normal, healthy physiological response to challenges in our external environment. It stimulates our bodies and minds to overcome difficulties, like a big exam or an important presentation at work. As such, it’s not always a bad thing. 

However, if you are going through a time of stress, you might have trouble concentrating. The best way to help your body and mind stay balanced during stressful times is to practice good mental health hygiene: eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get good sleep. 

  1. Anxiety

However, stress differs from anxiety. While stress can be a healthy response that gives us the energy to cope with external challenges, anxiety is less healthy and harder to treat. 

Anxiety is our internally generated emotional response to challenges. It manifests as persistent, intrusive worries about the future, which leads to difficulty concentrating. You might experience racing thoughts, especially about future scenarios of things going wrong. 

Anxiety becomes even more serious when it develops into an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or panic disorder. 

If your lack of concentration is due to anxiety, start by practicing the same coping mechanisms as for stress. If you still experience racing thoughts that keep you from concentrating, seek counseling or medical treatment for your anxiety. 

  1. Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the United States. Vitamin B12 plays a role in regulating the nervous system, so if you are deficient in this vitamin, you will experience neurological symptoms including:

  • Difficulty concentrating or “brain fog”
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Tingling feeling in your hands and feet

You might also experience physical symptoms like constipation, reduced appetite, and generalized weakness.

If you are pregnant, vegetarian or vegan, or live with Crohn’s disease or another digestive disease, you have an increased risk of a vitamin B deficiency. 

Do you have these symptoms? Keep your vitamin B12 levels high by eating foods like meat, milk, eggs, cheese, and foods that are fortified with vitamin B12. If your symptoms don’t go away, make an appointment with your doctor to get medical help.

  1. Hormonal Imbalances

Hormones regulate virtually all the processes in our bodies through complex interconnections. If a hormone becomes imbalanced, it can impact many body systems, including the neurological system. This leads to concentration difficulty and other problems.

In women of reproductive age, the hormones estrogen and progesterone rise and fall at different points during the menstruation cycle. This is normal and healthy, but it can cause a few days of reduced concentration every month.

However, other hormone imbalances are common in men as well as women. Almost 5% of adults in the United States have low levels of thyroid hormones, leading to symptoms including fatigue, weight gain, and depression.

Hypothyroidism can be easily treated by taking thyroid hormone supplements, so seek medical help if you think you have a thyroid hormone deficiency.

Solve Your Lack of Concentration

Don’t let a lack of concentration interfere with your work. With these tips, you can find the cause of your lack of concentration and solve it. 

Did this article help you? Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog, where you’ll find more tips for living a healthy, productive life.