While we all get forgetful from time to time, having a poor memory is frustrating. You meet someone new, and you forget their name within minutes of knowing them telling you. Or you sit down for an exam only to have difficulty recalling what you learned.
Wouldn’t it be super awesome if there was a pill you could pop to improve your memory vastly? Unfortunately, no such pill exists. And those that claim to have that capability are backed with little science.
But thankfully, there are things you can do to improve your memory. Many of which are even backed by science. In this post, we explore some of these ways.
- Get Enough Sleep
The role of sleep in memory consolidation is very important. Sleep helps to store short-term information in long-term memory. While the exact mechanism through which this occurs is not fully understood, the relationship between sleep and memory is well established.
In a memory study involving 40 children aged 10 to 14, one group was trained for memory tests in the evening while tested the next day after a good night’s rest. The other group was trained and tested on the same day. After controlling for other factors, it was found that those in the first group performed 20% better than those in the second group. This is also the same reason why those that work night shifts are more prone to error than day shift workers.
Medical experts recommend you have between seven to nine hours of sleep every day. Taking power naps (which lasts between 20 to 20 minutes) in between your day allows for the recovery of brain function and memory consolidation.
- Practice Mindful Meditation
Working memory is what makes it easy for you to store information temporarily throughout your day. Most of this information is forgotten as soon as you’re done with them. Useful information, on the other hand, is committed to long-term memory.
Research has shown that mindful meditation is a great way to improve memory by increasing gray matter in the brain. As you age, your gray matter declines, and that reduces your cognitive ability. That’s why older people are more susceptible to memory loss.
Thankfully, meditation can help improve short-term memory, as well as memory recall. In one study involving Taiwanese college students, those who engaged in mindful meditation had better spatial working memory than students who did not meditate.
- Physical and Mental Exercise
Exercise is important for maintaining physical and mental well-being. Exercising regularly boosts blood circulation in your body, improves your immune system, and makes you stronger. Physical exercise is also known to improve memory. In a recent study, moderate exercise on a stationary bike improved cognitive performance in 144 people aged between 19 to 93. Exercise also lowers your risk of having dementia later in life.
Just as it’s important to exercise your muscles, it’s also crucial to train your brain. Brain games, for instance, are a fun and effective way to improve your memory. Examples of such games include crosswords, Tetris, and word-recall games. A recent study showed that doing 15 minutes of online braining training more than four times a week can improve short-term memory, concentration, and working memory. It can even significantly improve your problem-solving skills.
- Eat Healthy Foods
You’ve probably heard a million times that you are what you eat. This saying is true, especially when it comes to your cognitive abilities. Certain foods have been shown to affect memory negatively. Reduce their intake. Some examples of these foods include added sugar, refined carbs, and even alcohol. Do not binge drink!
On the other hand, certain foods are known to boost memory – embrace them! Fish oil supplement, for instance, contains omega-3 fatty acids that slower mental decline. Choose anti-inflammatory foods as they help to reduce oxidative stress, thereby improving your memory. Examples of such foods include fruits, vegetables, teas, and berries. Curcumin is also a potent antioxidant found in high concentrations in turmeric root. It can help boost memory and prevent cognitive decline.
- Lead a Vibrant Social Life
We are a social species, and as such, we need to interact with others to ensure our emotional and mental health actively. Having a strong support system can be invaluable, especially when experiencing difficulties like depression and stress.
A 2007 study discovered that people with active social lives tend to have the slowest memory decline. Just a 10-minute interaction with another person was also shown to improve memory.
An active social life means that you’re constantly training your brain to process and recall information, as well as articulating your ideas – all of which improves cognition.
We understand that dealing with memory loss or memory, in general, can be a daunting subject to undertake. We are here to help guide you through the labyrinth of questions you may have. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here today for more information.