If you’ve been forgetful lately, take a look at your schedule to see if you’re forming some habits that lead to this condition.
Sleep has many health benefits, including improved memory. Not getting enough sleep can affect your ability to learn new things by up to 40%, and it can affect the hippocampus part of the brain (the hippocampus), which is responsible for creating new memories.
American psychologist Michele Goldman said that sleep allows the brain to recover. “Certain stages of sleep are specifically related to memory consolidation or the process of converting newly learned information into long-term memory,” he said.
The Sleep Foundation (USA) recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Insufficient or poor sleep can make us forget more easily because learned information is not stored in long-term memory, making it more likely to be forgotten or lost.
Julia Kogan, a health psychologist in Florida, says sleep is related to attention and concentration, two things that are important for memory. “If we neglect sleep, it is difficult for us to retain good information. Therefore, people with frequent insomnia are more likely to forget because parts of the brain, especially the left prefrontal cortex, are less sensitive.” Julia Kogan noted.
Do many things at the same time
Kogan says forgetfulness is “an attention-related problem” because it’s an important part of remembering information. “If we lose focus or aren’t in a state of retention of information, we don’t pay enough attention to the information, leading to absent-mindedness,” she says.
Distractions happen when you multitask. Multi-tasking leads to poor productivity and makes it easier to forget.
Experts advise focusing on one thing at a time. Break tasks down into manageable activities, with small breaks.
“Take 45 minutes to complete a specific task without being interrupted by other tasks, then take a 5-10 minute break,” suggests Kogan.
Not exercising or being inactive
Exercise is important for overall health, including memory, says Valentina Dragomir, psychotherapist. This activity increases blood flow to the brain and helps protect brain cells. In addition, according to this expert, many studies confirm that sedentary habits lead to a gradual thinning of some important brain regions with memory.
Goldman experts note, regular exercise does not necessarily have to be strenuous. Just choosing light activities also reduces the risk of common memory-related diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Taking certain medications
Antidepressants, allergy medications, blood pressure stabilizers… can make you forgetful.
Other drugs such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, anti-epileptic drugs, narcotic pain relievers, antihypertensive drugs, diuretics, antihistamines… also cause memory impairment.
Therapist Dragomir notes that alcohol can damage brain cells, leading to memory problems. According to research, drinking alcohol for a long time causes the brain to decrease in size.
People who are heavy drinkers or intoxicated are likely to experience short- and long-term memory loss because alcohol affects the hippocampus, which is largely responsible for learning and memory, leading to amnesia.
“Alcohol drinkers are often deficient in certain vitamins and other nutrients, which can lead to amnesia,” she notes.
Smoking is a habit to break if you want to improve your memory. According to Dragomir, smoking damages brain cells and prevents new cells from forming in the hippocampus, leading to amnesia. A study in the American Journal of Neuroscience found that chronic exposure to nicotine can impair brain mechanisms involved in learning and memory.
“Smoking can impair lung and heart function, slowing oxygen transport to the brain. Less oxygen in the brain can lead to poorer brain function, causing memory loss,” the expert said.
Do not eat certain foods
What we eat affects physically, mentally and emotionally. An unbalanced diet has a negative impact on the body. If you’re looking for foods that boost brain function, Harvard Medical School recommends choosing leafy greens, fatty fish, berries, walnuts, and more.
Neuropsychologist Hafeez recommends following a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats…
According to Goldman, we tend to forget things when the external environment is unstable. A chaotic, cluttered, or disorganized environment is beneficial for a few, but not for the majority.
She advises building the right system. “Make a notebook, create a schedule, be consistent, and stick to everything,” Goldman says. Objects should be placed in their correct positions so as not to lose them.
Have a mental health problem without treatment
Anxiety and depression both impair concentration, making it harder to pay attention to small details. It’s a challenge to stay organized. We are easily overwhelmed and lack focus.
Trauma survivors are particularly prone to memory impairment. The nervous system is trying to ensure safety and protection, which means non-life threatening details are forgotten.
Stress, anxiety, and depression affect attention, learning, and memory. So, according to Kogan, these worries need to be addressed to improve memory. People struggling with this condition need to be treated with the right therapies.
Do not sharpen the mind
One of the best things you can do to combat amnesia is to stimulate your brain. “Learning new things, playing games, reading books or other stimulating activities is one way to keep the brain’s ‘muscles’ working properly,” Goldman says.
The American Psychological Association recommends taking “snapshots” of things in life, such as where you parked your car, to keep in mind when you forget. It also suggests training your brain through mnemonic devices and vanishing cues, or using technology to help you remember things.
“Think of your brain and memory as something that must be used and exercised like any other part of the body, or it will atrophy,” says Hafeez.
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