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What Are the Common Causes of a Lack of Concentration?

Nicole Madison
Updated Feb 01, 2024
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There are many issues that can cause a lack of concentration. Among the most common are disinterest, fatigue, and distractions in the vicinity. Sometimes a person is under so much stress that he has difficulty concentrating, and some medications also can cause a person to have problems focusing. Interestingly, even such things as a lack of exercise can affect a person mentally and interfere with his ability to concentrate.

Disinterest is one of the most common causes of a lack of concentration. When people are truly interested in something, they often have no trouble giving it their full attention. In fact, some people are so passionate about the things they are interested in that they become overly focused and have to make an effort to pay attention to other things or take a break. For example, a child may become so focused on a video game that his parents have to remind him to stop for a healthy snack or to exercise. Likewise, an adult may become so engrossed in a book or other project that he loses track of time.

Fatigue can also cause concentration difficulties. When a person is sleep deprived, his mind often suffers the consequences in the form of confused or muddled thinking. When he attempts to concentrate, his thoughts may seem to lag behind, and he may spend a good deal of time trying to force his mind to focus. In some cases, the effort to concentrate just makes the fatigue worse, and an individual might catch himself falling asleep when he is supposed to be concentrating. Some medications produce the same effect and make a person feel tired, drowsy, and muddled in their thinking.

Distractions also contribute to a lack of concentration in many cases. It can become very hard to focus when other fun or interesting things are happening. Many people find it hard to concentrate when others are talking, laughing, or playing — music or sounds from a television can be distracting as well. Some people even have difficulty concentrating when they are working on a computer and they know there are other things to do. For instance, some are easily distracted by such things as message boards, chat rooms, and email, and some people even become distracted by the potential for online shopping.

A lack of exercise can also contribute to a lack of concentration. While most people know exercise is good for the body, some people are less aware of the fact that it can help clear the mind, improve memory, and increase one's ability to focus. Exercise can even boost mood, which may, in turn, improve one's concentration.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By fBoyle — On Sep 09, 2013

@ddljohn-- Yes, depression and anxiety can definitely cause a lack of concentration. My sister, who has social anxiety, has issues with this.

I don't know if hypertension and diabetes causes lack of concentration directly. But both of these lead to fatigue and fatigue can cause concentration problems.

Moreover, medications that are used for these conditions can also cause lack of concentration as a side effect. Many people forget about this.

By ddljohn — On Sep 08, 2013

I've heard that depression causes poor concentration. Is the same true for anxiety? And can other health conditions such as hypertension or diabetes cause poor concentration?

By SteamLouis — On Sep 08, 2013

A doctor was talking about insomnia the other day and he said that we sleep, not for our body, but for our mind. Our mind not only rests during sleep, but it also finds the opportunity to process what was experienced during the day. This is apparently why people who can't sleep or who sleep poorly often have concentration problems.

I get, at most, four hours of sleep at night. I have a very hard time paying attention in class. I'm planning to see a doctor about this soon.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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