Many people believe that they just have bad memories, and that there’s little or nothing they can do to improve their sieve-like minds. This is actually not true. There are many ways to improve memory, to enhance it, and to compensate when your ability to remember seems inadequate. It should be noted that a sudden loss of memory, especially among the elderly, might indicate conditions like Alzheimer’s and you should see a medical professional, since there are medications which may forestall or slow down this condition’s onset.
If you would simply like to improve your memory, there are three main things that you need to enhance your brain function: adequate sleep, exercise, and a good diet. These are a lot cheaper than the many alleged brain enhancement tools on the market, some of which may work to a degree, others most of which not be worth their price. Any other types of devices or strategies you employ will be less effective without the big three.
Anyone who has ever had to stay up for a full 24 hours will probably note that they quickly start to forget things. In fact, a recent study on students preparing for tests suggested that those who regularly pull “all-nighters” prior to taking an exam generally have lower grade point averages than those who get adequate sleep before taking tests, where "adequate" is defined as at least eight hours a night. Some people may require more — as much as nine or ten hours.
As far as exercising is concerned, aerobic exercises like walking, biking, swimming, and dancing are usually the most helpful. These enhance your ability to remember by giving you more oxygen, and oxygen is what brain cells — as well as all your body’s cells — thrive upon. A good diet refers to eating foods high in antioxidants, getting plenty of fiber, sticking to healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and making sure that your blood sugar remains stable.
To help kids at school, skip the cold cereal or toaster pastries in the morning and consider serving protein instead. Eggs and toast, for instance, may improve not only memory, but also the ability to concentrate in class. Yogurt smoothies made with soy or whey protein power can also give kids and adults that extra boost to keep their minds working at peak capacity.
Once you’ve got down the three basics, there are other things that may help. It can help to minimize distraction while working on tasks or studying. Low music to drown out background noise can be useful: think classical and not rock. Reducing stress levels is very important as well, since when you’re stressed out, you will not remember as much or as well. Many suggest meditation to both focus the mind and to reduce overall stress; prayer may work equally well.
When you’re attempting to memorize things like phone numbers, math formulas, and the like, these can be very difficult. The best methods include attaching meaning to them. For instance, a phone number might contain numbers that have a special meaning, such as your birthdate, a special anniversary, or something similar, or they might have sequential numbers. Spend some time working on attaching meaning to the number in whatever ways work for you, and repeat the number verbally and write it down plenty of times to help you remember it.
Just about anything can be better remembered when it has attached meaning to it. If you have trouble with names, try to make up little rhymes about people you’ve met. Jot down a few notes on their physical description, or associate a name with someone you’ve known in the past. If you do happen to forget, ask again and keep trying to keep that name in focus.
Though your brain is not a muscle, it often works like one. You must keep using it, stretching it, and testing it to keep your memory sharp. Give yourself tests and challenges, like memorizing short poems and bits of information. Keeping journals at night that catalog events of the day, can also help you remember the day and keep your mental skills at their highest capacity.