Have you ever wondered what you can do to make your brain healthier and improve your memory? It isn’t all that complicated. A few simple lifestyle changes and some small additions to your routine might be all it takes.
Get as much sleep as you need
The reason we sleep is for the health of our brains just as much as the well being of our bodies. When we sleep, our brains are hard at work storing memories and preparing for the next stretch of time we are going to be spending awake. Making sleep a priority is a great way to show your short- and long-term memory you care.
In order to improve your memory and maintain it over time, you need to make sure you are getting enough sleep. How much sleep you need really depends on your lifestyle. Getting seven to nine hours per night is an ideal goal to aim for, but every person is different. If you experience high levels of stress, work long hours or exercise frequently, both your body and brain might need more sleep than that.
To make sure you are getting enough sleep, do what you can to set aside all electronic devices with bright screens at least an hour or so before you plan on trying to fall asleep. Make sleep part of your schedule, instead of leaving bedtime optional. Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every night to get your body into a steady rhythm, even on weekends and days off.
Exercise on a regular basis
By now, you are probably getting pretty tired of everyone telling you how important exercise is for your health. It’s good for your heart, can help you lose weight and makes you happier – big deal, right? It isn’t just a task that has physical benefits, though. Working out is also scientifically proven to improve the way you think, in the best ways possible.
Exercising regularly, at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise spread out over multiple days per week, is good for your brain in more ways than one. A healthy lifestyle, one that includes regular exercise, has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function over time, two things that become more and more common in older adults as they continue to age.
To establish a regular and healthy exercise routine, try out different activities and find one that you will enjoy and will be much more likely to get up and perform even when you do not feel like it. When exercise stops feeling like a chore and becomes a hobby, your brain can benefit even more from it.
Eat foods that contain antioxidants
What you eat actually ends up playing a huge role in improving your memory. The longer we live, the more we are exposed to free radicals and slowly begin to break down, which can be best explained as something similar to a car giving way to rust the longer it is exposed to the air.
As scary and unsettling as this may sound, it is something that happens naturally and cannot be prevented. However, we can protect ourselves against the effects of free radicals, especially when it comes to our brains. Antioxidants are one way to provide ourselves this kind of protection. They are found in substances such as tea and coffee, but are also found in many foods as well.
Eating foods that contain antioxidants can help delay memory loss and cognitive impairment. Some examples of foods that contain reasonable amounts of antioxidants include berries such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, grapes, nuts, broccoli, sweet potatoes, fish and beans.
Adopt mono tasking habits
Did you know that when we are in the middle of a task, and get distracted by something else, it can sometimes take more than 20 minutes for our brains to refocus again? This is why experts continue to tell us not to try and do too many tasks at once.
It may seem like multi tasking is a much more efficient way to get things done, but that doesn’t happen to be the case. The more things you try to do at once, the less quality your work will have, and the less likely you are to be able to focus on what you are trying to accomplish.
The solution is to do your best to mono task, or focus only on one task at a time. This helps improve your memory by allowing your brain to remain focused on one primary object or stream of thoughts at one time. Also remember to take breaks in between tasks to help your brain prepare to move on to something new.
Start learning a new skill
Even if you are no longer in school, you should never stop learning. Your brain can be compared to a muscle, in a way: if you stop exercising that muscle, it will not only fail to get stronger, it might even become weaker from underuse.
To continue exercising your brain and improving your memory, find small ways to learn new skills. Trying using a language learning app to learn Spanish or French. Learn to sew or bake or draw. Any activity that makes your brain work hard counts.
Play a few brain games
One final thing you can do to help improve your memory over time is to try playing a few brain games. There are plenty of apps and websites that offer quick, fun and easy games that are also good for your brain.
Tools like Lumosity offer brain games and brain training to exercise your brain and help you improve your memory while having fun at the same time. Brain games alone won’t have a huge effect, but adding them to your routine while also applying some of the suggestions above can definitely show results.
You are never too old to play a few games, learn a new skill or adopt healthier habits that promote optimal brain health. The best time to start taking better care of your brain is right now. Good luck!