Why does my brain feel foggy after I quit smoking?

By Margaret LaPlante, EX® Coach Lead

Once you quit smoking, vaping, chewing or dipping you may feel like you have a foggy brain. It may take you longer to think of words you’re trying to say or you might forget why you walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Likely if you’re experiencing foggy brain after quitting, you’re wondering why this is happening and if it’s normal.

I just quit smoking and feel like I’m in a fog. Is this normal?

Yes, it is absolutely normal to feel like your brain is “foggy” or feel fatigue after you quit smoking. Foggy brain is just one of the many symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and it’s often most common in the first week or two of quitting. When you were using tobacco, your body was used to getting nicotine from cigarettes, vaping or chew/dip. When it’s no longer getting that stimulus, your body craves it and communicates that craving through withdrawal.

How long will I have this foggy brain after quitting smoking?

The topic of foggy brain and how long it will last has come up in several discussions on our EX Community.

Check out EX Community posts about foggy brain:

  • deonta2004-My foggy brain was horrible it really got to me because I would lose my words sometimes and couldn't think and it wasn't getting better overtime. I was so tired all the time that I would just go to work and as soon as I got home I would go to sleep.

  • Darlene0313- I am on my fourth day of quitting "again" and I am not able to focus at all and the fatigue is overwhelming.

  • CarynS-my brain is only functioning at like 50% I dont remember when to start or stop tasks. My job still has tons of deadlines that I need to meet (some I'm late on already) and I'm really wanting to find a way to manage this. I've read a lot where folks say it'll pass. I kinda dont have time for that and presentations that must go on! Does anyone have tips that help with minimizing brain fog and getting projects started/ completed?

What can I do to stop having foggy brain after I’ve quit smoking?

Fatigue and sleep disruption can increase foggy brain. Read these blogs from the Mayo Clinic on not sleeping and ways to improve your sleep hygiene.

Consider using the patch, gum or lozenge to make your quit more comfortable. NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) safely delivers nicotine to your body and can reduce the withdrawal symptoms, like foggy brain.