Science-backed strategies to strengthen your memory

You do not need nootropic substances to improve your attention, memory, and productivity. There are all-natural mental strategies that can strengthen your brain functions on a daily basis without resorting to so-called “smart drugs” or other special treatments.

Some of these memory enhancement strategies will work within hours or even minutes. By taking up at least one of them, you can sharpen your cognitive function for a certain event or get the most out of the memory skills you use every day.

Cardio workouts can help you remember information

If you want to remember something new and important, study it right before doing a cardiovascular exercise or immediately after such a workout. Cardio exercise is known to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the long run, but it also provides short-term support for the brain.

Several studies indicate that medium-intensity and high-intensity cardiovascular exercise could improve the ability to remember new information. A mere 15 minutes of physical exercise proved enough to improve recollection.

This strategy only worked if the information got picked up mere minutes before or after the exercise. If a person waits for even just one hour after acquiring the information, the cardio exercise will hardly improve his or her memory. (Related: Scientists say eating eggs for breakfast helps boost brain function.)

Don’t switch between different sources of media – just sleep it off

Avoid multitasking between different forms of media. People who often switch between games, phone, print, radio, television, and other sources suffer from diminished immediate attention and memory. They also have problems maintaining their attention, figuring out if information is important or not, and have bad long-term memory.


Try to cut down your use of various sources of media. Only check your phone every hour instead of every minute, don’t use email and text alerts, and turn off the television or radio when you are trying to learn or memorize something.

Also, try to get as much sleep as you can. Sufficient quantities of quality sleep decrease the chances of Alzheimer’s disease. They also help consolidate and bundle together newly acquired information.

In a 2013 study, researchers from the University of Zurich (UZH) believe that sleep time exerts a greater beneficial effect on memory consolidation than wakeful hours. Furthermore, the different stages of sleep improve different types of memory recall.

Rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep ensures the stability and clarity of newly acquired information. Slow-wave sleep, on the other hand, recovers that recent memory and sets it up for storage in long-term memory.

Avoid stress while using established memories to strengthen newly made ones

The more efficiently we learn something new, the better the chances of remembering that information later on. A fast and effective way of doing so is to connect new information to an existing neuronal circuit that stores memories.

If you meet a new person who shares his or her name with someone you already know, you can link these two people together and repeat the information so that the new memory gets stronger.  It is the mental equivalent of grafting a branch onto a grown tree instead of raising a new tree from a seed.

Finally, you should avoid stress, which causes the mind to grow unclear. Stressful scenarios can distract you from information that you are trying to get down pat. Stress will also trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone that makes it harder to remember newly made memories.

Strategies that reduce stress will also benefit everyday memory skills. In the long run, avoiding stress will help the brain remain healthy and sharp even during old age, when Alzheimer’s disease becomes a serious concern.

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