Nowadays, we are entrusting our phones with all the things we used to remember on our own, effectively diminishing our memory. One in two people can’t remember their children’s phone numbers, while one in three can’t even remember their partner’s – the tip of the iceberg in a concerning phenomenon that is being dubbed ‘digital amnesia’.
Years ago, when the concept of ‘just googling’ the answer to a burning question was far beyond us, we had little choice but to remember important facts and figures, and commit appointments and events to memory – but these days, thanks to digital calendars, online search engines and mobile phones, we’ve become wholly reliant on technology to keep us in check.
If you regularly find yourself racking your brain for your best friend’s birthday or struggling to remember your child’s teacher’s name, then the good news is that there are some clever strategies you can do to start training your brain. By taking up new hobbies and skills, and making time for some short daily practices, you can effectively regenerate those neurons and retain information more efficiently. Here, we take a look at some of the best of them.
Can learning a new language help improve memory?
So, how can we train our ability to remember what’s important? Learning languages can help the brain improve concentration and aid memory, as explained in the infographic “SOS memory: does learning languages help the brain?” by Babbel, the world’s first language learning app.
From Plato’s aversion to writing, the culprit of taking away some of our memory, to fun facts about polyglots and the language of space, this infographic will take you on a journey into our ability to remember, and the help that learning one or more languages can provide.
Short lessons, a new routine and spaced repetition are all useful tips and practices to help one’s memory not only with a new language, but also in all everyday situations, as proven by a Swedish study: Those who take language courses are better at remembering names of the people they just met.
The importance of quality sleep
Of course, one of the biggest challenges when learning a new language is retaining the vocabulary you’ve studied – and it turns out that one of the best ways to do so is to sleep on it. Getting in seven to nine quality hours of shut-eye on average makes it easier to consolidate the information you’ve taken in throughout the day, and by ensuring you’ve had optimal rest, you’ll also be placing yourself in the best possible position in terms of alertness and attentiveness to learn new things the following day, too.
So, make a point of getting into bed a little earlier tonight, and leave your smartphone at the door. Blue light can disrupt our circadian rhythms and negatively impact upon sleep quality, so turning it off an hour before you turn in will go a long way towards helping you drift off with ease.
Don’t forget to keep moving
Taking regular exercise might not sound like it would have any bearing on boosting your memory, but implementing a short daily cardio session is actually one of the best things you can do to keep those neurons firing.
Exercise helps to improve memory by stimulating physiological changes such as reductions in insulin resistance and inflammation, whilst also encouraging the production of growth factors – essential chemicals for the growth and development of new blood vessels in the brain. Not only that, but it also impacts upon the overall health of new brain cells – and several studies have shown that the parts of the brain responsible for thinking and memory are larger in people who engage in a regular fitness routine than those who live a sedentary lifestyle.
So, if you needed another reason to head out for a moderate run this morning, then look no further.