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10 Tips on how to improve your memory

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/25/2007 | Self Improvement

Where did I leave my keys? What did I come in here for? Your glasses are on top of your head!


Sound at all familiar?


Scientists and medical professionals say that as we age, our ability and capacity to remember things slowly declines. The speed at which we learn new things slows down as well.


If you're near or beyond the age of 50, youve probably experienced these small lapses a little more frequently. Dont worry. Recent research shows there are simple ways to enhance your memory and prevent age-related memory loss.


You may be thinking, Whos got the time to play complicated games or listen to the latest memory guru? The fact is that most of the following tips are small, common sense adjustments to your daily routine. Nothing earth shattering, but potentially life-changing.


1. Get enough sleep. Research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that missing just a few hours of sleep at night results in impaired memory and reaction times. Get at least 6 hours of sleep a night to keep your memory sharp.


2. Eat well to be well. Weve heard that eating more fruits and vegetables takes care of all sorts of things ailing us. Now you can add keeping your brain healthy to that list too. Health professionals say diets containing high amounts of nutrient-rich foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits act to combat illnesses related to memory loss. Also, adding foods rich in omega-3 fats, such as fish, will help to keep bad cholesterol levels down, enhancing brain function.


3. Take your vitamins. Nutritional supplements are important if youre not getting enough nutrients from your diet. If you cant stand the idea of eating more fish, get your omega-3 fats in capsule form. According to research recently conducted by The National Research Council in Milan, Italy, the antioxidants in Vitamins C and E may protect against some forms of memory loss.


4. Exercise frequently and vigorously. Exercise doesnt have to mean anything more complicated than a brisk daily walk. A study carried out at the Salk Institute indicated that adding more exercise to your routine can make learning easier, as well as improving your memory. An active body keeps the brain active too.


5. Reduce stress. Stretching, physical activity, and relaxation exercises are great for reducing stress. The body releases cortisol when its under stress. Cortisol shrinks brain memory centers, which in turn impairs memory function. A walk around the block and a few deep breaths can help keep your memory sharp.


6. Limit or eliminate alcohol, drugs, and smoking. Since memory loss can be a direct result of these substances, limiting them can improve memory. Many drugs, including both over-the-counter and prescription medications such as sleeping pills, antidepressants, allergy medications, and painkillers, can reduce memory function. Illnesses related to smoking are also associated with memory loss. The good news is: memory improves when you stop using these substances. Check with your doctor.


7. Keep your brain active and stimulated. Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York suggest playing brain-stimulating games like cards or board games to reduce memory loss. Read, learn a language, dance, do crossword puzzles, or even take a class. Dont let your brain get lazy. Just as you exercise your body, so must you exercise your brain.


8. Get organized. Always keep the things you use daily, like your keys and glasses, in the same place. Make lists of things you need to do or remember and keep that list with you. A small calendar or even a notebook can help you stay organized.


9. Visualize, verbalize, and believe you can remember things. One important tip is to simply pay attention. Watch yourself put your keys down, tell yourself where you are putting them, and then reinforce it by believing you will remember where they are. Actively paying attention and being present is simple and timesaving.


10. Make sure youre healthy. Many illnesses and infections can weaken your memory, including depression, thyroid disease, diabetes, and meningitis.


This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to boosting your memory. Declining memory doesnt have to be part of the aging process. Simply taking care of your body, instituting a few lifestyle changes, and paying attention can work wonders.