There’s an old saying that goes ‘memories make life meaningful’. Or something such as that. I can’t rightly remember. Maybe I’m getting old. Whilst memory loss is a natural part of ageing, science continually finds ways in which we can generally improve our ability to recall and retain memories that are important to us. Here are five of the best ways you can sharpen your mind and keep your memories for longer.
Working memory acts as an instant ‘cue’ card, where new information is temporarily held whilst you are working with it. Once a memory is no longer useful, you will usually let it go entirely. If it has future use, you transfer it to your long-term memory for later recall.
For most adults, the maximum we can hold in our working memory at any one time is about seven items. However, meditation has the potential to strengthen your working memory and improve your ability to recall extra information. It does this by switching off your brain, which sounds paradoxical, but sometimes an empty mind makes you feel a little less stressed and helps by reducing the ‘noise’ surrounding a memory – therefore making it easier to find in your brain’s long-term filing system.
According to a recent study, consuming caffeine during or after performing a learning task can improve memory recall. The researchers in this study focused on how caffeine can improve the process of strengthening memories we’ve created. So, drinking a coffee may help you to hold on to any information that you process during your day, and chances are you’ll be able to better recall that information for much longer.
Research from the University of Reading and the Peninsula Medical School shows that eating fresh berries may help to slow down memory loss. A study found that supplementing a daily diet with blueberries might improve the performance of working memory, which, in turn, may prolong information recall in the long-term.
Blueberries, in particular, are high in flavonoids that may strengthen existing connections in the brain. More research is needed to back these findings, but the health benefits of eating fresh berries go beyond improving working or long-term memory – they’re good for you regardless.
Regular exercise can also improve memory recall. In particular, studies show that regular exercise can improve spatial memory – the type of memory that lets you know where you are or where you are going at any given time. Routine exercise has been proven to improve cognitive abilities besides memory, as well as being highly beneficial for your physical wellbeing. Healthy body, healthy mind.
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to maintain good memory. In fact, believe it or not, most of our memory consolidation occurs when we sleep. Research has shown that sleep deprivation also affects our ability to store information, making it difficult to learn new things or to retain any information that we process. It goes without saying then, that poor sleep patterns lead to a poor memory. So, if you ever needed an excuse for an afternoon nap, now you have one.
Do you have any tips for maintaining memories? Why not share them?