If you’re looking to increase mental performance, improve cognitive skills or preserve your aging memory, these tips can help.
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is vital in preserving memory, creativity, critical thinking, and cognitive skills. Research shows you need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. Passing up on just a few hours of sleep can lead to a decline in memory. While in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, memory consolidation, a crucial memory-enhancing activity, occurs. Try to make sure you have a regular sleep schedule as well. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day.
It’s also proven that those who take short naps after lunch see a boost in mental performance. Surveys carried out in adults aged over 60 show that those who performed better in naming, calculation, and orientation, took naps every day. It is essential, though, not to overdo it. You should take naps shortly after lunch, for less than 30 minutes and no more than five times a week.
Challenge Your Brain
Your brain can change and adapt, no matter your age. And an adult has already developed countless pathways that help you recall and process information quickly – but if you stick to these paths all the time, your brain begins to “rust” as you aren’t giving it the stimulation it needs. Like every other muscle, the brain requires you to work on it and keep working on it, or else you lose all your progress. The more you challenge your brain, the easier it is to remember information and carry out habitual tasks. Some brain workouts you can do include playing a board game like chess or checkers, learning to play an instrument, writing essays, learning a new language, and so on. Just make sure it gives your brain a challenge, all the while being fun and enjoyable.
While mental workouts are essential for preserving memory, you should not leave out the physical aspect. Physical exercises help you stay focused and brisk, increase the flow of oxygen to your brain, and also reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which leads to memory loss. Physical exercises also help your body slow down the production of stress hormones. But most importantly, it helps your brain change or form new neural connections (neuroplasticity). Aerobic exercise is great for your brain because it allows oxygen to flow easier and keeps your blood pumping. Exercises that require some level of hand-eye coordination aid neuroplasticity. Even a short walk or jog can help reboot your brain when you feel fatigued.
Don’t Get Stressed
Stress destroys brain cells and damages an area of the brain responsible for retrieving old memories and forming new ones. This slowly but surely deteriorates your memory. As you age, you should avoid stress at all costs. When assigning tasks, you should know your threshold point, take breaks regularly, set a balance between work and play, and don’t always try to multi-task.
Have A Laugh
Laughter is the best medicine; a popular saying we’ve all heard – and it’s true when it comes to keeping the brain active and fresh. Unlike other emotions, which trigger only a small section of the brain, laughter triggers multiple regions. Crafting punch lines and listening to jokes aids creativity and learning.