Health Team

Managing stress, sleeping well can boost memory

Posted April 18
Updated April 19

Improving memory isn't just a mental exercise. The way people live, eat and manage stress can all affect memory.

Five simple lifestyle choices and habits, though, can significantly reduce stress, improve physical health and sharpen memory.

Manage stress. Anxiety or worrying about things can lead to memory impairment. Try scheduling quiet moments for deep breathing and stress-relieving physical activities. Yoga and leisure walks in nature can help ease unnecessary worries.

Get a good night's sleep. A tired body leads to a tired mind, which can lead to forgetfulness. Solid sleep helps the brain consolidate memories. Be careful with depending on insomnia medications, because they can actually impair memory and general brain function. The best bet is to schedule a regular bedtime, avoid caffeine and avoid eating three hours before turning in.

Quit smoking. Smokers have a greater degree of age-related memory loss and other memory issues than non-smokers. Those who smoke two packs of cigarettes a day at mid-life have more than double the risk of developing dementia in old age than others.

Drink alcohol only in moderation. Too much alcohol increases the risk for memory loss and dementia. People addicted to alcohol have more problems with short-term memory tasks like memorizing lists, names and phone numbers.

Protect your brain from injury. Head trauma is a major cause of memory loss and increases the risk of developing dementia. During high speed activities like cycling, skateboarding and skiing, wear the appropriate head protection. Always buckle up in motor vehicles because car crashes are the most common cause of brain injury.

Experts say memory exercises that are trending right now, such as playing games or using apps like Luminosity, do have a positive effect on memory.

Those activities not only exercise the brain, but they also help relieve stress and anxiety. For example, playing fun board games like Trivial Pursuit with your family can help take get your mind off other things.

Anything done on a regular basis to focus on something that's quiet helps relax the body and the mind and, in return, improves memory.

It may even help you get a better night's sleep.


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