Seven Great Ways to Improve Your Memory
If you’re always forgetting facts and figures or you can never remember names and dates, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can improve your memory in almost no time at all. You don’t need to spend hours studying complex chess strategies or trying to memorize the digits of pi – just a few small lifestyle changes are all that’s required.
1. Socialize more.
When it comes to improving your cognitive abilities, relaxing with a group of friends probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But humans are inherently social creatures, and several scientific studies have shown that socializing helps to slow down age-related memory loss. Laughter has been shown to improve the interconnectivity between different areas of the brain, and regularly socializing also makes you less prone to stress and depression.
2. Get plenty of sleep.
The average adult needs around eight hours of sleep per night to be fully mentally alert. However, most people don’t get enough sleep, and this can have serious negative effects on your problem solving abilities and critical thinking skills, not to mention your memory.
Your brain processes and stores new information during the part of the nightly sleep cycle known as ‘REM sleep’. When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s often the REM phase that your brain is forced to cut back on. This means that just an extra hour in bed every night is likely to bring huge benefits, including a greatly improved memory and generally heightened brainpower.
3. Avoid alcohol before bed.
Even if a nice glass of wine helps you to relax and fall asleep more easily, it will still lead to lower quality sleep with a smaller proportion of the all-important REM phase. Alcohol also reduces your ability to concentrate and is known to destroy brain cells, all of which will result in a significantly reduced memory capacity in the long run.
4. Eat brain food.
Certain foods are better than others when it comes to honing your mental abilities. Oily fish like mackerel and sardines contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids that are enormously beneficial for both the brain and the body as a whole. If you’re not a fan of seafood, then you can find plenty of omega-3 in other sources like spinach, walnuts and kidney beans.
Antioxidants are needed to protect your brain cells, so fruit, vegetables and green tea – all of which are high in antioxidants – are highly recommended by medical professionals. Red wine also contains antioxidants and drinking no more than a glass per day may well be beneficial – just don’t use it as a nightcap! Foods that are particularly high in saturated fats should be avoided when possible, because they have been scientifically proven to impair your memory and harm your overall brainpower.
5. Train your brain.
Just like a muscle, the brain needs to be challenged and stimulated on a regular basis in order to grow and improve. Fortunately you don’t need to puzzle over cryptic crosswords or solve tricky math problems if you don’t want to – brain training can be as simple as varying your routine! Even taking a different route home from work now and again can make a difference.
Any activity that breaks your normal routine will force your brain to make new connections and forge new neural pathways, which will in turn help your memory and give your brain a boost. This means that doing something new, fun and exciting can often double up as a brain training exercise. Variety is said to be the spice of life, and it happens to be great for your memory too!
The most important part of the brain for memory consolidation (moving information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory) is the hippocampus. Unfortunately chronic stress can irreversibly damage the hippocampus, harming your cognitive abilities. Stress will also kill your brain cells over time, while chronic anxiety can have negative effects on your memory too. Meditation helps to relieve both stress and anxiety (as well as many other ailments), so regular meditation could be used to improve your memory.
7. Exercise more.
Everyone knows that regular exercise is great for both your mental and physical health in a huge number of ways. Your brain uses oxygen as fuel, so in order to process new information and recall facts and figures from the distant recesses of your mind, your brain needs as much oxygen as it can get. Exercise increases the blood flow to your brain, giving your memory skills and overall mental capacity a boost as more vital oxygen reaches your brain cells. Regular exercise also reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, both of which are linked to memory loss.
None of the tips on this list are very difficult to incorporate into your lifestyle, and it won’t take long before you start to notice the benefits. You’ll be remembering the things you always used to forget in no time at all!