Memory Power

By SARAH NOORANI

Wouldn’t it be great to have photographic memory so that you don't have to read through those notes again and again? Although not everyone is blessed with perfect memory, you can certainly improve your memory by incorporating these tips into your daily routine!

concept-idea-innovation-212286.jpg

Diet

Caffeine doesn't just help you wake up and stay alert. It helps prevent memory problems in the future! Consuming caffeine can improve memory for information learned up to 24 hours after caffeine consumption. [1] The exact reason for this is unknown, but it may be due to the effect of caffeine on attention, focus, or molecules in the brain that facilitate memory.

Another way to improve memory is to avoid foods high in sugar, saturated fat, hydrogenated fat, and cholesterol. This includes butter, fried foods, hamburgers, and cookies that contain hydrogenated fats in their ingredients. This may be due to the tendency of these foods to cause greater inflammation and insulin resistance in the hippocampus, a brain structure important for memory. [2]

Chemicals called flavonoids have been found to aid in memory. These chemicals are found in foods such as blueberries, tea, broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and grapes. [3]

diet-food-fresh-247685.jpg

Sleep

Even though it might be difficult to get enough sleep, this is really important for your memory! Sleep is crucial for consolidation of memories, and lack of sleep is associated with memory impairments, especially higher cognitive functions. These memory deficits are more significant in individuals who receive five hours of sleep or less. While the ideal amount of sleep may vary depending on the individual, it has been recommended to get around seven hours of sleep each night. [5]

Even if you enjoy sleeping in, it turns out that this may not be the best thing for your brain. While sleep deprivation may negatively affect learning and memory, there is overwhelming evidence for the negative effects of too much sleep too. Specifically, it has been found that students who wake up later in the day are more likely to have a lower grade point average than those who wake up earlier, suggesting that oversleeping may have impaired their attention and ability to learn. [4]

Perhaps the most important thing when it comes to sleep is the quality of sleep. Oversleeping is often associated with poor quality, such as not getting enough sleep the night before, and thus has been related to deficits in learning and memory. Therefore, with respect to sleep, the best way to improve memory is to catch an adequate amount of z's and to adhere to a steady sleep schedule!

adult-alarm-alarm-clock-1028741.jpg

Exercise

Although it is ideal to get enough sleep, exercising on a regular basis may help to promote memory, and even compensate for the negative effects of lack of sleep on memory. [5]

However, exercise does not have the same effects on everyone. Interestingly, exercise seems to be more beneficial to students who are more easily distracted in class. This may be because easily distracted students have more room for improvement, so exercise induces a greater change in their ability to form new memories. [6]

Bottom Line

Finding ways to improve memory is a constant struggle for all of us. Fortunately, there are some ways it can be done! Diet, sleep, and exercise all play an important role in the formation and maintenance of memories. For example, eating foods like blueberries, citrus fruits, grapes, and others that are high in flavonoids can aid memory! Getting an adequate amount of sleep as well as regular exercise are also important ways to improve memory!

aerobics-brand-color-39671.jpg

References

  1. “Caffeine and an adenosine A2A receptor antagonist prevent memory impairment and synaptotoxicity in adult rats triggered by a convulsive episode in early life.” J Neurochem. (2010).

  2. “Effects of a Saturated Fat and High Cholesterol Diet on Memory and Hippocampal Morphology in the Middle-Aged Rat.” J Alzheimer’s Dis. (2008).

  3. “Food for thought: the role of dietary flavonoids in enhancing human memory, learning and neuro-cognitive performance: Symposium on ‘Diet and mental health.’” Proc Nutr Soc. (2008).

  4. “Health-Related Variables and Academic Performance Among First-Year College Students: Implications for Sleep and Other Behaviors.” J Am Coll Health. (2010).

  5. “Regular Exercise Prevents Sleep Deprivation Associated Impairment of Long-Term Memory and Synaptic Plasticity in The CA1 Area of the Hippocampus.” Sleep. (2013).

  6. “Exercise and Working Memory: An Individual Differences Investigation.” J Sport Exerc Psychol. (2007).