Most people assume that our brain works the way it does and there’s nothing we can do about it. If someone’s forgetful now or has a hard time remembering things, they’re just always going to be like that. If you’re someone who finds remembering the names of people you meet or what you did months ago a challenge, you aren’t consigned to your fate. We don’t have to simply accept the way our memories work now or the slow mental decline that often comes with age. We can fight it. There are simple things we can all do to enhance our memories and stay sharp for years to come. Here are six ways you can start enhancing your memory now.
Read Something Daily
On a very basic level, the key to a sharp mind is keeping it engaged. If you allow your brain to atrophy, you’ll discover that it becomes harder and harder to remember things. To keep your memory sharp, and indeed improve it, it needs to be worked out constantly. People who can maintain strong memories in their later years swear by reading regularly. They say it keeps them learning and helps their brain stay active by taking in new information. As you read, you become more attuned to soaking up facts, figures, or whatever other material you’re consuming. You have to work a bit more to read than, say, watching a video, so it’s a better mental exercise.
Get Lots of Sleep
Sleeping recharges your brain and avoids the mental fog that is associated with a lack of rest. The brain uses synaptic consolidation to store and protect memories. That often happens most effectively when your brain is at rest while you sleep. There’s less activity going on, so your brain can spend time ingraining what you’ve most recently learned or experienced. If you really want to enhance your memory, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. It reduces the amount of external noise going on that your brain has to work hard to process and focuses your mental energy on what you want to retain.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You need to prep your memory to perform the way you want it to. You can’t all of the sudden expect to take on loads of information and retain memories without adjusting your memory to your expectations. One thing that will enhance your memory is practicing rote memorization of what you want to remember or really anything that takes work to remember.
Learning a language, for instance, becomes much easier for people learning vocabulary words for months or years. Their brains are primed to absorb the new words and lodge them somewhere in the memory. If, though, you expected to learn 100 words in a day without working your way up to that kind of performance, it’s going to be very difficult. Make it easier by moving up in stages.
Take Breaks to Avoid Fatigue
If you need to memorize a lot of information nor soak in a lot of data, you need to take breaks. At some point, your memory and your brain become fatigued. At that point, the returns start diminishing. It’s unlikely you’ll remember much of anything you’re learning when you’re worn out. Make sure you schedule breaks in your learning.
Staying healthy is a big factor in staying mentally sharp. There are a lot of over-the-counter supplements with vitamins and ingredients like ginkgo Biloba that help promote memory. Talk to your doctor and do your own research about which supplements offer the best memory enhancements. Vitamin B helps promote nervous system function and vitamin c is great for overall health. You can take daily multivitamins as well to make sure you’re covered.
The peptide Oxytocin has been the subject of a lot of clinical research around cognitive performance. In tests done on mice, results indicated that oxytocin stimulated the development of the prefrontal cortex by improving hormone levels. The group of mice that receive oxytocin showed higher cognitive performance. Many are interested in ongoing research into a broader application of oxytocin and more insight into what benefits it provides.
In the end, if you want to enhance your memory, you have to focus on your quality of life. Getting more sleep, taking vitamins, eating a healthy diet, and staying engaged will keep you sharp for longer.