5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Memory That Are All Backed Up By Science
I personally love discovering new studying hacks, because if there's any way to streamline the learning process to make more time for eating tacos and enjoying the last few weeks of warm weather, then I'm totally onboard. One of my favorite memory hacks, for example, involves marking different benchmarks in a study session with Starbursts, so that you get a little reward after you commit each section to your memory. But this definitely isn't the only easy way to improve your memory; in fact, there are tons of simple strategies for boosting your brain power and your ability to remember things. Even if it's not necessarily back-to-school season for you, these memory-boosting methods can be helpful for just anyone — after all, we've all had the panic-inducing experience of forgetting where you put your phone last, right?
Of course, if it is back-to-school season for you, it's important to note that none of these helpful tips can actually sit down and do the dirty work of studying for your next exam or presentation — but they can ensure that none of your studying time goes to waste by helping you remember information long after you've first learned it.
Drink Coffee *After* You Study
It might be tempting to start off a marathon studying session with a huge mug of your favorite coffee, but if you want to keep all of those facts in your head for the long haul, Roussell tells Elite Daily over email that this strategy might just be the way to go.
According to a recent study published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, caffeine can actually enhance your ability to remember certain things when you drink it after a brain-stimulating activity, such as studying. For their experiment, the researchers looked at the effects of post-studying caffeine on 160 healthy young adults between the ages 18 and 30 to determine the stimulant's effect on long-term memory storage. Although the study stated that more research is needed to better understand the link between memory and a good ol' cup of coffee, the results pointed to better memory when caffeinating after a study session instead of before. Hey, it's a worth a shot (of espresso), right?
Actually Go To Bed At A Decent Time
The recommendation that you get a good eight hours of rest each night isn't just for the sake of your beauty sleep. That snooze time benefits your brain, too; in fact, Dr. Roussell says it might even be wiser to sleep well than to clock in extra studying time ahead of an exam or presentation. "The night before an exam, it is important to get adequate sleep," he tells Elite Daily. "I would recommend studying, but also getting eight hours of quality sleep."
See, sleep is necessary for a lot of things related to your well-being, but you might not know the role it plays in your memory, specifically. According to research from Nature Reviews Neuroscience, quality sleep "optimizes the consolidation of newly acquired information in memory." In other words, you could spend hours upon hours trying to memorize a list of vocabulary terms, but if those hours are happening at night and they're replacing your hours of sleep, you're probably not going to see any good results.
If you tend to have trouble turning your brain off before bed, or with prioritizing sleep over studying in general, Dr. Roussell suggests steering clear of technology once bedtime is approaching, as well as maintaining consistency with your overall schedule. "Prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep each night to keep your memory as sharp as possible," he tells Elite Daily over email.
Try Interval Training In Your Workout
After drinking up your post-study coffee, Dr. Roussell recommends using the caffeine high to fuel an intense workout for even more brain-boosting benefits.
Of course, there are tons of workouts that can make you stronger, but if you're specifically looking for something that improves your memory, Roussell suggests high-intensity interval training (HIIT). "You should do interval training after studying because BDNF [a neuro-protein that helps your body grow and repair neurons, and thus plays a big role in forming memories] can help with memory consolidation," he explains. And while a single session of interval training might give your memory a little bit of a boost, try to make HIIT workouts a regular part of your fitness routine for a strong brain that can hold memories for the long haul.
Consider Replacing Your PSL With Coffee Fruit Coffee
While your brain power can definitely get a boost from your local cafe's basic brew, coffee made from coffee fruit — aka the fleshy part surrounding your typical coffee bean — might be even better. Studies, like this 2013 one published in the international scientific journal Food and Nutrition Sciences, show that the antioxidants from coffee fruit can increase your body's production of that memory-boosting neuro-protein, BDNF. "BDNF's primary role in the body is in the areas of neuron growth and repair," Dr. Roussell tells Elite Daily. "When your body makes new memories, it needs to grow neurons to make new connections with other neurons. BDNF is needed for this to happen."
And, honestly, do you really need an excuse to try a new type of coffee? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Relax (Seriously, Though)
All work and no play makes you, well, kind of forgetful, TBH — and yes, there's legit science to back that up. For a study published in the journal Neurobiology Learning and Memory, researchers presented nearly 300 slides of information to 32 people without telling them there would be a memory test to follow. All of the participants were then shown a 12-minute video that was meant to help them relax, and while half were simply told to follow the video's instructions to go ahead and chill, the other 16 participants were told to press a button whenever certain cues prompted them to do so (i.e. this second condition was meant to not be relaxing for the participants). Finally, each of the 32 participants took a memory test based on the initial slides they were shown.
According to the results, researchers found that the relaxation group had better memory retention a full four weeks after the actual experiment. In other words, while you might think that taking breaks from studying to literally just relax is sort of pointless, or even "lazy," this research shows it's a lot more helpful than you might think. According to Dr. Roussell, "50 minutes of focused effort, followed by a 10- to 15-minute break, seems to be a good study rhythm."