Many people believe that mild memory loss is normal with aging. Scientists believe that our brain cells, or neurons, are limited in number and slowly decline over time. This meant there was no way to prevent the inevitable decline in memory and learning as we age.
Rodent studies of good quality have revealed that rodent brain research has improved brain knowledge. The hippocampus, the brain’s memory storage area, can regenerate throughout a person’s life. These new cells can ‘learn’ from the past and store the information with the same plasticity as a baby’s brain.
This begs the question: Why do we lose our memories as early as our thirties, and why is that? How can we naturally improve our memory?
These “senior moments” are often dismissed by most people I know as simply fatigue, stress, or simply aging. We don’t want to be a victim of this early warning sign. Then, later on, memory loss will not be something we can laugh at. Instead, it could lead to the terrifying diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
This three-part series will examine the causes of cognitive decline and show you how to improve your memory with a simple lifestyle, diet, and exercise changes.
Remember to sleep
It is well-known that good quality, restorative sleep is crucial for memory improvement. Why? Why? Because deep sleep (which scientists call slow-wave sleep) consolidates memories from waking hours 2. Low-quality deep sleep has been linked to decreased vigilance on the next day 3.
Deep sleep can be described as your brain’s filing system. This is where all the paperwork from the day is sorted into the right drawers for future retrieval.
The first third of the night is when we experience deep sleep. This is when we go deepest and last the longest. It is crucial to get as much deep sleep as possible.
Factors that can reduce deep sleep
- Pre-sleep Stress: Catching up on work emails, having an altercation with your partner, or watching a violent movie can increase cortisol levels. To allow melatonin to rise, cortisol should be lower in the evening and early morning.
- Exposure to nightlight: Studies have shown that exposure to artificial light, particularly blue light from computer devices or energy-efficient bulbs, can significantly reduce melatonin levels.
- Exercise within two hours of getting to bed: This will increase cortisol levels and decrease deep sleep.
- Time before you go to bed: A late afternoon nap can reduce our sleep depth.
- Depression and chronic stress are two of the most common causes of depression.
- Thyroid problems
Deep sleep is a great way to improve memory.
- After 8 pm, do not work.
- Use your computer only after 8 pm. Or, at the very least, download the f.lux app to change the light color from blue to red.
- You can swap your bedside lamp for a salt lamp, which produces red light.
- Change your exercise time from late night to early morning. This will improve your sleep quality and adrenal function.
- Be with your partner and make love, not war – Sexual activity, especially orgasms, reduce cortisol levels and encourage oxytocin (a relaxing hormone).
- Take a few cherries or a small amount of cherry juice concentrate. This has been shown to increase melatonin 4 significantly
- A qualified naturopath can help you address chronic stress, depression and thyroid problems. Your sleep quality won’t improve unless you address the root causes.