We all forget things sometimes. It’s only human nature! But when you’re always forgetting names, places, and where you put your keys, it can be frustrating.
Granted, memory loss is an expected part of aging. It can also happen if you’re stressed, distracted, or tired. But this doesn’t mean you can’t change it. Check out these five ways to increase your memory power and concentration.
6 Tips To Improve Memory
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is the absolute best way to increase your memory. Bedtime gives your brain a chance to rest and recover. It also lets your brain process new information, therefore building up your memory.1 In fact, sleep reorganizes memories so that they’re easier to hold on to.
This is why sleep deprivation is so harmful. Without enough shut-eye, your brain can’t properly reorganize existing memories – let alone new ones. The hippocampus, which regulates memory, also can’t communicate with other parts of the brain.2
Failing to get enough rest will harm more than just your memory. Daily tasks will feel like a drag. You’ll also be more likely to nod off while driving, which is dangerous.
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is a common problem. It impacts about 37 percent of people ages 20 to 39 and 40.3 percent of adults ages 40-59. Additionally, roughly 32 percent of adults aged 60 and up don’t snooze enough.3
But sleep is the best way to increase memory. It’ll strengthen and protect your brain, making it easy to make and remember new memories. Sufficient sleep will also make your brain less stressed and therefore, better at memorization.
Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day, while school-aged kids and teens need about 10 hours. The Centers for Disease Control recommends going to bed the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. Making sure the environment is dark and quiet will also help. These habits will help you get enough rest and boost your memory skills.4
2. Manage Stress
It’s no secret that stress relief prevents disease. But did you know that it can increase memory power? Chronic stress damages every part of your brain, but the hippocampus takes the greatest hit.
When you’re constantly stressed, your body makes tons of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol can shrink your hippocampus by up to 14 percent. It also messes with the connections between different parts of the brain.5 You’ll have poor spatial memory, like remembering directions or where you left your keys.6
There are many things you can do to reduce stress, like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercise. Regular exercise and spending time with loved ones will also keep your stress levels – and memory – in check.
3. Stay Mentally Active
The brain naturally declines as you get older. However, if you keep it mentally active, you can ward off memory loss and forgetfulness. It’ll even regenerate new brain cells and preserve existing connections.
Mental stimulation is a great way to prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. It explains why educated people usually have a slower mental decline. Regularly learning puts the brain to work, which protects and increases memory.7
Yet, basic self-enrichment is still beneficial. Stay curious by reading books, magazines, or websites like CureJoy. Write in a journal, do puzzles, and play games. Use the Internet to your advantage, because it’s full of educational resources.
4. Practice Creative Hobbies
For another way to stay mentally active, take out time to be creative. This will increase concentration and memory! It can be anything from cooking to drawing. Any hobby that challenges your brain is fair game.
Creativity is like exercise for your noggin. These activities make your brain stronger and better at remembering memories. It also promotes better communication between different parts of the brain, so that the neurons get a workout.8
Creative hobbies also help you de-stress. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy found an association between knitting and happiness, relaxation, and calmness. These feelings will protect your brain and ultimately, your memory.9
Remember, you need to be good at a creative hobby. Just have fun and don’t stress if you should post it on social media. It’ll still benefit your brain even if it’s not picture-perfect.
5. Eat Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You might be surprised to learn that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids increase memory. Your brain needs this fat to function properly. Deficiency includes poor memory, mood swings, and depression, along with dry skin and heart issues.10
The most important omega-3 fatty acid is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It’s also the most common fat in the brain. So the more you have, the better your brain will work.11
To get enough omega-3, eat fatty fish. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are delicious choices. You can also take supplements if you don’t like the taste of fish.
A balanced diet will keep your brain – and body – in great shape. Regular exercise will ensure that your brain gets enough oxygen to function. You can also increase your memory power by drinking in moderation and avoiding smoking.
6. Exercises To Improve Memory
Much like the rest of your body, the brain requires exercise as well. When the brain is regularly stimulated, it improves a number of cognitive skills, including memory, focus, and problem-solving skills. The concept is known as neurobics, otherwise known as cognitive training.12 These exercises include puzzles and brain teasers. Another part of cognitive training is to engage different senses in new and unexpected ways. The brain loves a challenge.
Play The Recall Game: Create a list of anything you like. It could even be a grocery list. Memorize it. After a few hours, try recalling the items. Keep practicing it with different lists. You don’t even have to stick to lists. At the end of the day, right before you sleep, try recalling all the activities that you did throughout the day. Try to do this every night.
Practice Deep Listening: Do you tend to get distracted during conversations? If you do, maybe shift to a quieter place and try listening to each word. Try to paraphrase the words in your head and repeat them. This should improve your focus and memory.
Do Math: The next time you need to split a bill with a friend, try doing the calculations in your head. Math is food for the brain. Anything that stimulates your brain is great for your memory as well. It applies to any brain teaser game as well.
Follow The Map In Your Mind: Turn off the GPS and let your mind guide you. Try to remember streets, recall landmarks, and take unfamiliar routes to your place. It’s like working out a puzzle in your brain.
|↑1||Sleep, Learning, and Memory. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.|
|↑2||Sterpenich, Virginie, Leonardo Ceravolo, and Sophie Schwartz. “Sleep deprivation disrupts the contribution of the hippocampus to the formation of novel lexical associations.” Brain and Language 167 (2017): 61-71.|
|↑3||Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Problem. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑4||Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Centers for Disease Control.|
|↑5||Lupien, Sonia J., Alexandra Fiocco, Nathalie Wan, Francoise Maheu, Catherine Lord, Tania Schramek, and Mai Thanh Tu. “Stress hormones and human memory function across the lifespan.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 30, no. 3 (2005): 225-242.|
|↑6, ↑9||Riley, Jill, Betsan Corkhill, and Clare Morris. “The benefits of knitting for personal and social wellbeing in adulthood: Findings from an international survey.” British Journal of Occupational Therapy 76, no. 2 (2013): 50-57.|
|↑7||Stay Mentally Active. Alzheimer’s Association.|
|↑8||Bolwerk, Anne, Jessica Mack-Andrick, Frieder R. Lang, Arnd Dörfler, and Christian Maihöfner. “How art changes your brain: differential effects of visual art production and cognitive art evaluation on functional brain connectivity.” PloS one 9, no. 7 (2014): e101035.|
|↑10||Omega-3 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑11||4 Types of Foods to Help Boost Your Memory. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.|
|↑12||Kanthamalee, Saifon, and Kanid Sripankaew. “Effect of neurobic exercise on memory enhancement in the elderly with dementia.” Journal of Nursing Education and Practice 4, no. 3 (2013): p69|