5 situations that impair concentration

Concentration or focused attention is the ability to stay focused on a particular activity without losing performance over time. 

There are many factors that can impair an individual’s ability to concentrate. I will talk a little more about each of these factors in the next topics. 


People with poor quality or insufficient sleep start to have daytime sleepiness, evolving with impairment of concentration and memory. 

For those who want good productivity, the moment of awakening imposed by social needs must coincide with the spontaneous awakening. So the ideal time to sleep is what allows you to wake up spontaneously at the time of obligations, without the need for an alarm clock. 

People who are unable to maintain a satisfactory sleep pattern and have impaired school performance may have a sleep disorder, and it is recommended that they seek specialized medical help. 

bad eating habits

The influence of diet on the ability to concentrate has been the subject of different clinical research.

In a study carried out in the United Kingdom, researchers observed that the greater the previous consumption of  junk food ( food of low nutritional quality), the worse the school performance. Test scores in math, science, reading, and writing were higher among students who came from families with a healthier eating pattern. 

Increasingly, not only malnutrition but also poor eating habits have been associated with poorer academic performance. It is necessary to prioritize the consumption of fresh and natural foods, avoiding the practices listed below:

  • skip breakfast
  • Dispensing fruits, vegetables and vegetables for sandwiches
  • sugar intake
  • Intake of saturated fats


One of the peculiarities of attention is that it depends on the interest and need related to the activity.

It’s easier to stay focused on tasks that activate the pleasure center. It is for this reason that children who are inattentive in school activities are the same ones who manage to spend many hours playing video games. Also, the more urgent a task is, the easier it is to stay focused on it. 

Information overload

Our brain is not able to process all the information received. So much so that the job of flight controllers is complicated when they hear the voices of several pilots mixed in the same speaker. Much of our knowledge about attention has come from studies of these difficulties faced in air traffic control.

Because we are unable to process all information, our selective attention chooses only the information that is important to us. What is considered irrelevant will be discarded and ignored by our brain. 

At a noisy party, for example, we won’t know what everyone is saying. There is a tendency to focus attention on a single voice while disconnecting from all the others. This phenomenon is known as  cocktail party effect  and was described by Cherry in 1953. 

mental disorders

Many mental illnesses impair the ability to concentrate. Some of them are summarized below.

  • In depression, the patient has difficulty concentrating because he tends to focus on himself, his own difficulties and negative feelings. On the other hand, you may not be able to perceive pleasurable stimuli.
  • Anxiety can also lead to difficulty concentrating. Anxious people become inattentive because they are focused on the worries and ruminations they have.
  • In ADHD — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder — patients can have symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Those who are inattentive find it difficult to read a book to the end. There is an  ADHD test for adults  available on our website.

It is important to seek help from a psychiatrist if you suspect you have any of these illnesses.

Bibliographic references

DUARTE, João Carvalho. Sleep deprivation, school performance and psycho-affective balance in adolescence. 2011.

FEINSTEIN, Leon et al. Dietary patterns related to attainment in school: the importance of early eating patterns. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, vol. 62, no. 8, p. 734-739, 2008.

FRANCO DE LIMA, Ricardo. Understanding Attentional Mechanisms. Cogn. Science, Rio de Janeiro, vol. 6, no. 1, p. 113-122, nov. 2005 . Available at < http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1806-58212005000300013&lng=pt&nrm=iso >. hits on 01 Aug. 2021.

https://br.wiki2.wiki/wiki/Cocktail_party_effect  accessed on August 1st, 2021.

Malloy-Diniz, Leandro F.; Fuentes, Daniel; Mattos, Paulo; Abreu, Neander. Neuropsychological Assessment (p. 83). Artmed. Kindle Edition.

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