Six easy ways to improve your memory

27 January 2022

It’s generally understood that our memory begins to perform less effectively as we grow older. However, it’s less widely appreciated that there are easy ways to counteract this inevitable aspect of the ageing process. Some involve training and reconditioning, while others are simple self-care steps which bring a wealth of benefits.

Here are six straightforward and effective ways to give your memory a boost, starting with something we could all benefit from…

  1. Establish an effective sleep schedule

Sleep requirements vary throughout our lives; teenagers sleep for up to ten hours a day while their bodies navigate adolescence. In later life, eight hours of shuteye each night will lower the risk of conditions as diverse as depression, dementia and heart disease. Its memory benefits are twofold: it allows us to archive recent memories effectively, while ensuring we have sufficient focus to learn effectively. Going to bed at a set time helps, as will keeping phones and tablets out of the bedroom and avoiding unnecessarily early alarm calls.

  1. Regularly test your memory

Like the muscles in our body, the brain may begin to weaken without sufficient stimulation. By contrast, regular exercise helps to ensure optimal performance. The formation of new neural connections continues throughout later life, and a great way to strengthen memory involves routinely testing it. This could involve anything from Sudoku to memory-based games, with a wealth of app store utilities offering brain training exercises. Even something simple like memorising football results provides a quick and easy mental workout.

  1. Keep a tidy home

It might sound obvious, but it’s harder to remember things if they’re jumbled up. It’s easier to remember an object’s last resting place if it lives in one of two places, whereas it’s trickier if the item is dumped wherever you happened to be and every surface is covered in clutter. Similar principles apply to event management and forward planning – use a calendar to note down forthcoming events, and create to-do lists on your smartphone or a notepad for easy reference. The less extraneous clutter our brains have to deal with, the better they’ll perform.

  1. Eat well for less disturbance

Rather like an optimal sleep regime, the importance of a healthy diet provides holistic benefits. Diets high in cholesterol and fat could lead to the development of protein clusters which contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s, whereas a diet rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats are highly praised for minimising cognitive impairment. Optimal foodstuffs include fish, nuts and olive oil, while fruit and vegetables help to improve blood vessel health – ensuring the brain receives everything it needs to function optimally and store memories effectively.

  1. Keep fit

Exercise becomes harder as we grow less agile, but age alone isn’t an excuse to become sedentary. Captain Tom Moore demonstrated how even a centenarian can achieve endurance targets, and new technologies like the Peloton workout platform make humdrum machines like exercise bikes more dynamic and enjoyable. Swimming is a great all-ages activity, while walking should always be prioritised over car journeys. In terms of memory, aerobic exercise is more beneficial to cognitive health than non-aerobic activities like tai chi.

  1. Take up a new hobby

In a recent blog, we outlined activities and pastimes which may be worth taking up in later life. New hobbies can bring a surprisingly wide array of health benefits, including activating parts of our memory we might otherwise not be extending on a daily basis. This makes our minds more adaptable and resilient. For instance, attending a language class at college brings new faces and names to remember, while learning the nuances of a foreign language requires focus and retention. Memory isn’t just about remembering what you already know…