Here are some research-proven strategies that can effectively help your memory, enhance recall, and increase retention of information.
1. Drink water.This may sound so simple, but it is so important. Your brain is 80% water, so avoid anything that dehydrates it – such as caffeine or alcohol. Being dehydrated by just 2% impairs performance in tasks that require attention, immediate memory skills, and physical performance.
2. Add in additional sensory information. When learning something new, try to incorporate as much appropriate sensory information as possible. Take in what you hear, see, smell and touch to give the information more context.
3. Get good sleep. Sleep rejuvenates all the cells in your body, gives brain cells a chance to repair themselves, helps wash away neurodegenerative toxins that build up during the day, and activates neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate due to inactivity. Research has demonstrated that sleep deprivation can cause dramatic memory deficits. Practice good sleep hygiene to optimize your sleep habits.
4. Utilize Mnemonic Devices Mnemonic devices are a technique often used by students to aid in recall. A mnemonic is simply a way to remember information. For example, you might associate a term you need to remember with a common item that you are very familiar with. The best mnemonics are those that utilize positive imagery, humor, or novelty.
5. Avoid toxins. Smoking and drug and alcohol abuse increase your risk for dementia, so if these are a problem for you, stopping immediately decreases these risk factors. Even a glass of beer or wine per day can be harmful to the brain and can make it look toxic. And recent research demonstrates that smoking negatively affects the hippocampus, the brain’s major memory center.
6. Read Out Loud. Research published in 2017 suggests that reading materials out loud significantly improves your memory of the material. Educators and psychologists have also discovered that having students actually teach new concepts to others enhances understanding and recall.