Does your memory ever feel slippery sometimes, like you just can't recall totally recent events, no matter how hard you try? Figuring out how to boost your memory can seem like an impossible feat that is ultimately out of your control. But in truth, memory is, in many ways, similar to any of the muscles in your body: You can flex and improve it — if you work it out.
For all those people out there who are constantly scratching their heads, trying to remember where exactly that one amazing Thai place was that they went to that one time, I have good news for you: Science has given us the latest memory improvement hack, and not only is it extremely effective, it requires little to no effort on your part.
According to BBC, multiple studies show that one of the best ways to remember something is to simply rest after you've learned the new information, and to have "minimal interference" — aka no distractions — so that your brain has the time to fully absorb the information you were just given. In other words, you now have full license to take 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time (cat nap, anyone?) after a big meeting or a midterm-studying marathon.
Actively resting is so powerful in improving your ability to learn and remember something that scientists are starting to use this approach in treating people who have Alzheimer's or dementia, according to BBC.
The benefits of undisturbed rest as a means to boost memory aren't necessarily a new discovery. For over a hundred years, there's been scientific proof that taking distraction-free time to yourself after learning something increases the likelihood of it sticking. But various lines of research over the years have differed in specifying what exactly "active resting" has to look like, and to what extent it can help you improve your memory.
For example, while it was once thought that the best way to retain new information was to go to sleep, scientists are now suggesting that actively resting is just as good as sleeping. Taking just 15 minutes to relax, get away from all those social news feeds, and simply decompress seems to be one of the best things you can do for your brain.
What's more, according to Harvard Health, giving your brain some quality time to rest is an excellent way to protect yourself from Alzheimer's disease, as sleeping prevents the build-up of a specific type of protein plaque in the brain that is known to cause Alzheimer's.
The importance of giving your brain some rest cannot be overstated, but rest assured, there are other ways you can boost your memory.
Fortunately, there are other memory-boosting hacks that you can do alongside your quick bouts of active resting, since it might not be totally feasible for you to literally sit there and do nothing when you're at work or in school.
Giving your mind a task or playing a mental game is a great way to keep your brain sharp. For example, taking a few minutes of your day to do a crossword, or read a couple of riddles is an excellent, easy strategy to help boost your memory skills. Another great way to improve your memory is to write important things down, or speak them out loud when you're trying to memorize them. Forcing your brain to work cross-functionally (like using muscles to write a word out, or saying it out loud) makes it that much more likely the information will stick in your mind for later.
The worst thing you can do for your memory is constantly multi-task.
Multi-tasking has been proven time and time again to simply not work. So if you're trying to study for a big test, but you keep toggling back to Instagram, you're probably not going to remember things as completely or efficiently than if you would by simply studying and doing nothing else.
The one main theme for increasing your memory is clear: Take some time to be alone — aka apart from your phone. Need I say more?