Sleep and memory are inextricably linked. However, about one-third of American adults don’t get enough sleep or rest every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Our memories are extremely sensitive to even short-term sleep deprivation. So how do you enhance memory while supporting sleep? Weekly newspaper Talk to an expert to find out.
“The role of good sleep in cognitive health cannot be overstated,” said Bernhard Staresina, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oxford in the UK. Weekly newspaper. “We know that the brain continues to process memories during ‘offline’ periods (i.e. when you appear to be disconnected from learning). For example, napping is an amazing memory enhancer.”
Staresina said he strives to sleep seven to eight hours a night. But what other lifestyle factors can support your brain?
“Exercise is known to enhance our mental abilities, including memory,” Staresina said. “You don’t need to run a marathon every day – just get some regular exercise in to get the blood flowing. [Also], I try to eat clean and generally avoid processed foods, especially large meals at night, as these can affect sleep quality. “
Another lifestyle factor that can seriously impact our sleep is screen time.
“Avoid screen time before bed, as this has been shown to have a variety of detrimental effects on sleep quality as well as memory,” Staresina said.
However, while a healthy lifestyle can support your memory, it also needs to be maintained.
“Like language or physical health, memory follows a ‘use it or lose it’ principle,” Staresina said. “Exercising your memory regularly, for example, trying to remember your shopping list or remembering a new phone number, can help, as can reducing reliance on your phone for navigation.
“In general, the more effort you put in, the longer your memories will last.”
You can improve your chances of remembering specific information by cross-linking it with other memories or feelings.
“Most memories are associative in nature,” Staresina said. “So the more you can fit new information into your existing knowledge base, the more likely it is to be remembered… It’s very helpful to use as many of your senses as possible when learning new information [as] This sets up multiple routes of access when later attempts are made to recall these memories. It is also important to take regular breaks while studying. “
Exercises like the Memory Palace Technique can help maintain these connections. However, Staresina says new experiences and enrichment can also help strengthen your memory.
“I think being curious, reading, socializing and traveling are more effective for maintaining cognitive health throughout life,” he said.