Your memory is a critical part of your mental health, and the fear of losing your memory leaves many people desperate to maintain theirs. Although memory tends to leave with age, that is not an inevitable result of aging. Someone who takes the time to strengthen and refine their memory will find it stays with them well into old age. Here are five hacks to improve your memory.
1. Get sufficient sleep
An excellent way to keep your mind healthy is to make sure it’s well-rested. Sleep deprivation can ruin any mental progress you’ve developed, and make you more sluggish.
Sleeping is a critical part of the memory-building process. Without sleep, your memories are unable to consolidate, and you’ll likely forget what you’ve learned fairly soon. If you can’t consolidate your memories, you won’t be able to recall them later. Scientists think that the hippocampus and neocortex are critical in developing memory during sleep, theorizing that the hippocampus will replay the events of the day in your head, and the neocortex stores them through this process for future use.
2. Get your fats in
The brain is made of 60 percent fat, and uses 20 percent of your daily intake in calories. Although a balanced diet is good for your health overall, it is especially critical for your brain to get the amount of healthy fats it needs to maintain itself.
Healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats, help maintain your brain function and keep everything in working order, which protects your memory. Omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies do not produce naturally, are particularly helpful for brain function, and can be found in multiple sources outside of fish foods.
Along with maintaining memory, consuming healthy fats also helps fight mental illness such as depression and bipolar disorder. Saturated fats are often referred to with scare quotes, but they’re one of the main components of brain cells. Eating saturated fats decreases your risk of dementia and helps keep your brain functioning well.
4. Socialize with friends
Regular social interaction helps stave off mental illness as well. Studies have found socializing just as effective as mental exercises in stimulating your brain and strengthening your memory. A lack of socialization becomes a lack of interest and interaction with your brain, and can lead to depression and other mental health disorders. Socializing, however, stimulates multiple different parts of your brain.
A conversation offers you multiple chances to recall thoughts, use logic and critical thinking, experience emotional connections and reinforce knowledge. If you find yourself going throughout the day without talking to anyone, you’ll have less activity to keep your brain active and less emotional excitement to keep it happy.
5. Give your brain regular exercise
An excellent way to maintain your memory is to keep your brain active. Logic puzzles and mind games help keep your memory sharp. A good brain activity that helps maintain memory will teach you something new and challenge you. The human brain is highly malleable, so brain teasers and puzzles are excellent tools for strengthening your brain capabilities and lengthening your memory.
Learning something really mentally challenging, like learning to count cards, is a more difficult task and a significant feat of memory training. Remember, once you’ve adjusted to a certain level of difficulty in your brain exercises, you have to push for harder levels – otherwise, your progress stagnates and you’re no longer stretching and expanding your mental capabilities.
The purpose of mind games is to create new pathways, which need to be reinforced with regular thinking and brain exercise. The more neural pathways you develop, the more you are developing and expanding your memory, and reinforcing them with repeated effort makes them more stable and long-lasting.
6. Get plenty of physical exercise
It’s not just your brain you have to exercise to maintain memory – it’s your whole body. Regular aerobic exercise increases the size of your hippocampus, which is critical in memory development and maintenance. Exercise reduces inflammation and stimulates growth factors that help develop memory. It helps increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and also releases stress and naturally exhausts your energy, which helps you get a better night’s sleep.
Physical activity is great for your body, but it also helps your brain grow. Maintaining the health of your brain cells means maintaining the functions that create and preserve memory.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 75.6 million people will be living with dementia by 2030, and 135.5 million people will be living with dementia in 2050.
But dementia is not a normal part of aging. It’s a side effect of poor brain health, and you can avoid becoming afflicted by taking proactive steps to protect your brain. These tips to improve your memory will help you fight mental illness and maintain a long memory over a long life.
Featured photo credit: Ian Schneider via images.unsplash.com