Sleep. Imaging of the brain and behavioral studies show the impact that sleep deprivation has on learning and memory. The ability to remember is tied to the memory becoming stable in the brain, a function known as consolidation. It is believed that inadequate sleep interferes with consolidation. Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep nightly.
Workouts aren't just for the body. Thoughts dictate action, making brain training just as important as physical training. Throughout your lifetime, your brain is capable of adapting, reorganizing and even building new neural pathways (dubbed the "information highways" of the brain). These neural pathways form the basis of your cognitive skills, which not only make up IQ but also influence your ability to process, retain and recall information.
Chill out! We live in a fast-paced society, and many of us are on the go from the moment we wake up in the morning. This makes it all the more important to seek out ways to de-stress and regroup. The body reacts to chronic stress by increasing production of the hormone cortisol, which has been linked to memory loss.
Don't smoke. Aside from increasing your risk of lung damage and heart disease, smoking can affect blood flow to the brain. One study on the effects of smoking on more 5,000 people concluded that smokers were much less likely to retain information.
Next week: Foods to help boost memory.