Have you forgotten something?
If you want to be able to run a marathon, it’s going to be a lot easier if you do regular exercise (training) before the marathon than simply turning up on the day.
Everyone knows that.
Should it really be a surprise then that exercising your brain is going to make it work better? (exercising your body is good, too – see Mitochondria below)
Keeping the brain active through hobbies such as crosswords, puzzles, reading, writing and playing card games, aids memory retention. There is also some evidence that these activities help delay the onset of dementia in elderly people.
Grow your Mitochondria
Mitochondria are tiny compartments found within cells, responsible, amongst other things, for converting food and oxygen into clean energy for our cells to use.
Mitochondrial density affects your physical endurance and your brain power. As we age, our mitochondrial density tends to decrease, so it’s obviously going to help if we can slow down or even reverse the process (mitochondrial biogenesis).
We can generate more mitochondria through exercise. Evidence supports short and highly intensive training to be the best method.
Additionally, mitochondria can be increased through the consumption of supplements, specifically pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ).
Studies have shown that, amongst other health benefits, PQQ improves performance in memory tests. If PQQ is taken in conjunction with co-enzime Q10 (CoQ10) the positive effects are enhanced.
These supplements can be purchased separately, although it’s probably cheaper and easier to buy a supplement like Mito Osteo, which combines the two ingredients. You can read a comparison of all the PQQ/CoQ10 combined supplements here.
Fasting has always been a part of all of the world’s great religions, but it’s only recently that we have started to understand the real health benefits.And while many people are attracted to intermittent fasting (such as the 5:2 diet) because of its success in helping with weight loss, the benefits to the mind are perhaps more surprising.
According to research from the National Institute, fasting triggers a mild stress response in the brain. And the brain’s response to this stress? Well, it becomes more active. It’s an evolutionary response to hunger, as your brain works harder to find food.
When you brain works harder, it becomes more focused and your ability to not only remember things in the past but aids in the storage of memories for future use.
One experiment measured the rate of memory deterioration in mice with genetic disposition for Alzheimer’s.
One group was fed normally, while the other group of mice were placed on an alternative day fast.
Those mice who fasted delayed their onset of Alzheimer’s by an average of 6 months which is equivalent to about 20 years for humans.
More than one hundred years of research has established the fact that sleep benefits the retention of memory.
That doesn’t just mean that if you’re tired from lack of sleep you’re more inclined to forget things (which you are).
Studies have shown that memories are actually stabilized and enhanced during sleep. If you’re studying for a test the following day, you’re probably better off getting to bed early than staying up too late.
Even daytime naps have been shown to have a positive effect on memory.
So maybe there’s some truth in what my mother used to tell me.
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Write it Down
OK, I know what you’re thinking.
Surely we write things down as a back up in case we don’t remember.
However, the very act of writing something down actually aids in memory. Usually.
The only exception is where someone is writing or transcribing verbatim without much cognitive input.
Writing seems to work best as a memory enhancer if it’s used as a summary of a previous thought. Just been at a meeting? Write down some quick notes straight after. You probably won’t even need to look at the notes again as the process of writing it down will help you remember.
And we’re talking about actual writing too – not taking notes on a laptop, which research suggests may even impair memory retention. If you’re going to use a laptop to take notes, you might be better off using one of the several stylus technologies available.
Say it Aloud
Saying things aloud will help you remember.
It’s a particularly useful tool to use when trying to remember someone’s name to whom you’ve just been introduced. The trick is to use the person’s name immediately upon your introduction.
It works like this.
Someone approaches you at work and says: “Hi, I’m John from the Sales Department” to which you reply “Hi John, how’s the Sales Department going?” That simple action of saying aloud what you need to remember is a (usually unconscious) trick popular with sales people and politicians.