Memory loss and old age seem to go hand in hand. However, research shows that there are ways to help the brain fight off the effects of ageing, keep your synapses firing and ensure your memory stays sharp well into your senior years.
1. Get plenty of quality sleep A deep sleep does wonders for the brain’s ability to regenerate and clear away metabolic waste that can clog up the inner workings of neurons and synapses. The average person needs about eight hours of quality sleep every night. Practising good sleep hygiene can help ensure a good night’s rest. This includes making sure that your bedroom is a quiet, comfortable and relaxing space. A cooler room temperature can also improve sleep quality. Be sure not to use any electronic devices before bed, as the blue light interferes the brain’s circadian rhythm. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and big meals before bedtime too. Being physically active during the day can also help you fall asleep more easily. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every evening and morning – even on weekends.
2. Keep your heart healthy Cardiovascular health also plays an important role in healthy brain and memory function. High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking and high cholesterol have all been shown to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. To avoid this, get plenty of regular exercise, quit smoking, cut down on alcohol consumption and eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Stress also contributes to poor cardiovascular health and mental functioning, so try to take up relaxing hobbies you enjoy, spend time with friends and family, and consider yoga or meditation.
3. Learn a new skill Your brain is a powerful tool with an incredible capacity to learn and absorb new information. With every new skill or experience we have, our brains create and strengthen neural connections that keep the mind sharp and focused. Take part in mentally stimulating activities that expose you to new challenges and experiences. This could be learning a new language, meeting new people, travelling to new places or simply reading an interesting book.
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