Occasionally, we all have moments of memory loss that can be quite frustrating. Forgetting what you went shopping for or what that telephone number is that you call so often but has now completely slipped your mind. By following our top 10 tips on how to improve your memory we will help you to keep your mind sharp and active and readily available to recall information that you have stored in your memory bank.
The part of your brain responsible for memory is called the Hippocampus. It is a fact that a healthy body promotes a healthy mind. Research has proven that short bouts of vigorous exercise several times a week can help to promote new brain cells in your Hippocampus, therefore improving your memory storing and recalling ability.
Lack of sleep can be terrible for our memory and in fact for our brains on the whole. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential in keeping our memory banks alert and ready to store and recall new information at any time. Of course the amount of sleep we need will vary greatly on our age and lifestyle. An active teenager for example, could need anywhere between 8 to 11 hours sleep per night to have good brain health and memory functions, whereas someone who is elderly with a sedentary lifestyle only needs between 7.5 to 9 hours sleep per night to achieve the same result. But more important than the length of sleep is the quality of the sleep you are having. Regular disturbed sleep is scientifically proven to greatly affect our brain functions in general but in particular our memory recalling and storing ability. Good sleep = good brain health.
- Keep your brain active
By keeping your brain active as much as possible you will be ensuring you keep it sharp and responsive to keep those memory cells flowing. The Internet is a wonderful resource to help keep your brain cells alert with it being an enormous source of information on any topic. But there are an endless amount of things to do away from your computer to keep your brain working at its best. Providing you are using your brain and doing something that keeps you interested for the duration, you are ensuring you are keeping your brain functioning at its sharpest. The more we use our brains – the better overall they become.
- Lacking in vitamins?
If your memory problems are really becoming an issue for you it might be worth asking your GP to check that your vitamin levels in your body are as they should be. Do you know that if you are lacking in some minerals such as Omega-3, our memory function can be directly affected? It is medically proven that an Omega-3 deficiency can contribute directly towards depression and memory problems. Eating oily fish a couple of times a week is absolutely the best way to help avoid this from happening. But there are also many alternative remedies such as Omega-3 capsules from your local pharmacy or health food shop. Always check with your GP before taking any alternative therapies to ensure that you actually need them. Having too many of the rights vitamins and minerals in your body can have as much of a negative effect on you as not having enough can.
- Brain food
According to a study by the UCLA Memory Clinic, Dr Gary Small believes certain ‘super foods’ can greatly aid in our brain memory functions. Eating antioxidant rich foods along with lots of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables are a great starting point for good memory health. He claims that by following his ‘Memory Prescription’ diet recipes of eating lots of certain foods, your memory skills can be improved in as little as two weeks. Foods on the list include beetroot, avocado, oatmeal, blueberries, no meat – only fish, to name but a few.
- One job at a time
With the busy lifestyles that we all live today, quite often we contribute to our own memory problems without even realising it. By attempting to multi-task several jobs at one time, we are not fully concentrating on each task individually. But by ensuring you only concentrate on one task at a time until it is completed, you are certain to retain more of the information of the job you are doing resulting in it being far easier to recall this information should you wish to.
- Word Association
We often find it easier to remember a face rather than a name. This is because our brains retain pictures easier than they do words. The longer you look at something, the more chance you have of remembering it. Studies show that looking at an object for 8 seconds gives your brain the right amount of time to study and store the information correctly before recalling it. A picture always triggers a memory. So by associating whatever you need to remember with a picture of something that relates to it, you will have an easier time recalling it at a later date.
- Break it up
When trying to remember larger chunks of information such as telephone numbers, instead of trying to remember it as a whole, break it down into smaller easy-to-remember sections. You could then use word association (as above) to further help to store and recall the chunks of information. You might break it down into friends ages or birthdays, thus associating the telephone number with a familiar image of someone you know.
Having good routines is an excellent way to help when your memory skills are lacking. You might need to remember to take medication twice a day for example. Taking before or after mealtimes every day is an easy way to ensure you remember. Maybe you want to go for your morning work-out at the same time each day. Always leaving after the same daily TV or radio programme has finished is a sure way of making sure you aren’t late for those appointments! The trick is to find whatever routine method works best for you.
- Write It Down
Nowadays, most of us have mobile phones or home computers giving us constant access to personal media. This provides hundreds of ways to keep an online diary or ‘to do’ list that is accessible at any time of day or night, whilst keeping it constantly updated with new things to remember. Or instead, you may choose to have a simple in-hand diary so you can jot down things to remember whenever necessary. By keeping a diary in the same visible place at all times, you will be reminded whenever you see it to either put an entry into it or check it to see if there is anything you need to remember to do. And just the act alone of keeping a regular diary will be keeping your brain active – therefore improving your overall memory ability!