We all have moments of forgetfulness. They can occur at any time – you might call your child by their siblings’ name or struggle to recollect the words to your favourite song, even though you’ve sung it a hundred times before. Sometimes these memory blanks can be caused by nerves, distraction or tiredness, but actually, scientists have recently found that forgetfulness is not a passive process. In fact, the brain deliberately loses parts of memories in order to streamline its functions and make those memories more efficient in the future.
Scientist Oliver Hardt collaborated on a study in rats that showed how the brain works to forget things. He believed that that difficulty to recall certain information, “is not a failure of memory, but a function of it”. However, there are some things we can do to improve our memory so that these irritating occasions become far and few between.
Watch your diet
Your brain is directly affected by the foods you eat, so it makes sense that you can strengthen your memory by focusing on your diet. Reduce your sugar intake and refined carbs and look at supplementing with fish oil, anti-inflammatory foods, curcumin and cocoa. Research has shown that berries such as blueberries and raspberries may be able to slow your cognitive decline, so that you can keep your memory sharper for longer. Meanwhile, studies have proven that sugar has a severe detrimental effect on your memory. You may have already noticed that alcohol can have a significant impact on your memory if you have ever suffered with a hangover, so cutting this out of your diet gives your brain a fighting chance!
Take some time to meditate
While sitting still and focusing might seem like a struggle for some, the benefits of meditation are incredible. As well as the impacts on stress, blood pressure and concentration, research has shown that meditation has the ability to increase the amount of gray matter on the brain. As we age, our gray matter decreases, which is why our memory starts to fade. By increasing this area, we can boost our short-term memory!
Get some sleep!
Everything seems more difficult when you have had a bad night’s sleep. So, it makes sense that your memory would suffer. However, the long-term effects of regularly skimping on your shut eye mean that your brain is unable to consolidate those memories in the first place. Scientists believe we should be aiming for between seven and nine hours of good quality sleep a night. However, this varies from person to person.
Any kind of game that forces you to think a little harder is very effective at boosting your brain power, and therefore, your memory. There are apps on your mobile devices you could try, but old-fashioned crosswords, board games and word-recall games are fun and effective ways to strengthen the recollection part of your brain. You only need to spend 15 minutes a day to feel the benefits.
Exercise is important for some many bodily functions and the memory is no different. Again, you might be relieved to know that quality is more important than quantity, with scientists discovering that just 15 minutes of exertion on a stationary bike is enough to improve overall cognitive function in adults of all ages.
The above suggestions are all things that can boost your wellbeing in other areas, while also improving your memory. So, if you are looking to retain more information, taking care of yourself seems to be one of the very best ways to do it!