How to improve your memory?
Published Oct 22, 2022 • By Candice Salomé
Memory allows us to record, store and retrieve information in order to be able to interact with our environment.
During periods of stress or fatigue, memory problems can occur, such as forgetfulness, decreased concentration or reduced performance. Age also has an impact on our memory.
However, there are natural techniques you can use to optimize and even improve your memory.
But why does memory decline over the course of a lifetime? What can be done to improve it? What are the natural (and effective) ways to boost your memory?
We explain it all in our article!
What is memory and why does it decline with age?
There are several types of memory: working memory (short-term memory), semantic memory (storage of our knowledge about the world), procedural memory (long-term memory that allows automatic motor skills) and perceptual memory (which is linked to our senses). They are all linked together by complex neural interactions.
Aging leads to a decrease in physical and cerebral capacities. Cellular ageing also applies to neurons.
As a result, the speed of information processing slows down and performing complex tasks can become more difficult. Working memory, which processes short-term information, becomes less efficient with age.
Natural decline in cognitive abilities affects two dimensions of memory:
- Encoding and retrieval, which characterize the ability to record and recall information,
- Strategies used by the brain to memorize new information.
With age, memory deteriorates and, according to various studies, this is due to a disturbance in the coordination of the different brain regions. This disorder is said to be induced by the degradation of the white matter, which is a tissue essentially composed of axons (nerve fibers), responsible for the circulation of information in the nervous system.
However, unlike disease-related decline, for example in patients with Alzheimer's disease, normal decline in cognitive functions is rather minimal.
It should also be noted that memory loss can be associated with benign or reversible situations such as
- Taking certain medications (antidepressants, anxiolytics, sleeping pills, muscle relaxants or antihistamines),
- Fatigue and lack of sleep, which can lead to concentration problems and memory loss,
- Stress and depression as well as traumatic events,
- Certain dietary deficiencies such as vitamin B1 or vitamin B12,
- Use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco.
When memory loss becomes significant, it is important to talk to your GP about it. Memory loss can have a serious impact on daily activities and family life and can even be dangerous (e.g. forgetting to turn off your iron).
What are the natural ways to improve your memory?
Memory is the basis of our identity as it gathers our knowledge and memories. However, it can sometimes play tricks on us!
There are plenty of ways to boost your memory in order to slow down the cognitive decline that can occur with age.
Here is what we recommend doing:
Stimulate your senses
The more you combine different information with each other, the easier it is to remember what you have learned. It is therefore advisable to use all your senses to associate them with the events you have experienced.
For example, the olfactory areas, which have a unique connectivity with the hippocampus and other areas of the brain involved in memory storage, should be particularly used to boost your memory. The scent of a loved one, the smell of a cake or the smell of your grandmother's washing powder can be particularly memorable.
It is during our sleep that our brain sorts out memories created during the day in order to store them permanently. In order to ensure that this process takes place smoothly, it is advisable to sleep between 7 and 8 hours per night.
In order to maintain your memory in a working state, it is essential to stimulate it using different activities. There are many possibilities: gardening, dancing, reading a book, playing chess, listening to music... It is up to you to find the activities that you feel most at home with! The more passionate you are, the easier it will be for you to focus your attention on your activity and therefore to get your brain working!
Retrace your day
Every evening, practice reconstructing the thread of your day: the discussions you had, the people you met, the activities you were involved in.. This simple exercise will help you secure the information you have gathered and will allow you to build recovery paths that can then be used to restore another notion you have acquired!
Several studies have shown that meditation can stimulate the creation of new neural connections and improve the functioning of the prefrontal cortex.
Try focusing on your posture and breathing for 30 minutes each day to clear your mind of negative thoughts.
Eat good fat
Diet plays an important role. Our brain needs omega-3 fatty acids to produce neurotransmitters and strengthen the ability of neurons to connect with each other. These fatty acids are found in oils such as rapeseed, linseed and walnut, as well as in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies.
By adopting these simple habits on a daily basis, you will see positive impact on your memory! However, if you notice significant memory loss, it is recommended to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Share your thoughts and questions with the community in the comments below!
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