You know how we often say that kids pick things up like a sponge? They learn pretty fast just by observing, watching, and listening, which says a lot about their memory. Unfortunately, the handle we have on remembering starts declining after the age of 30—this is when we start forgetting the names of people we’ve known forever, have trouble remembering why we went from one room of the house to another, find ourselves struggling to recall the title of movies, books, anything… but it doesn’t have to be like that! In fact, there are ways to keep your brain on its (figurative) toes by retraining it to be as sharp and focused as it once was. It takes more effort as we grow older, but it’s not impossible.
- Sleep and naps? Your brain’s best friends.
It’s not a secret that sleep, specifically the transition from slow-wave sleep to REM sleep, helps transform and consolidate our memories for the day into knowledge: things that we can actually remember for the long term and call on later. This is why quality sleep is so important: it doesn’t just give your body the time it needs to recuperate, it also has a big impact on recall and memory. Unfortunately, as hard as we try, there are days we might not get enough sleep—but that’s what naps are for! A 90-minute nap, even a 30-minute one, can also assist with memory consolidation.
- You’ve read this before, but read it again: eat right.
You’ll always find this advice when it comes to taking care of your body, and for a good reason! Everything we eat can impact our overall health and the way we function, which is why making the right food choices is vital. And while you can’t rely on food alone, not when it comes to memory—you still need to exert some effort of course—eating something nutritious can certainly help! Here’s a nifty list to help you during your next supermarket trip.
- Don’t always give in to, “Let’s just Google it.”
We know, we know—why try to recall something you’ve forgotten when you can just pick up your phone or open a browser and rely on Google to do the heavy work for you? Here’s the reason: whenever we learn anything and then try to remember them later, we activate two areas of the brain that are involved with memory: the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. Giving it enough exercise, like not relying on external resources to recall certain pieces of information, can train your brain and improve memory.
There are a ton of ways to ensure we stay focused even as we age, and it’s a matter of choosing a lifestyle that puts our health first. There’s some hard work involved of course, and a lot of effort from us to help ourselves maintain a sharp and active mind—but years down the road, when we’re wrinkled and faded, having an amazing recollection of a life well-lived will surely be a wonderful payoff.