Memory is a funny thing. You may not remember what you had for dinner last Monday, but you clearly recall a conversation you had two decades ago. We all forget things now and then, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. And while memory loss and forgetfulness are normal with aging, according to the National Institute on Aging, some things can make it worse at any age.
Psychologist Michele Goldman says there are several common habits that can make us more forgetful. She and other experts share things you may not even realize you’re doing that affect memory:
- Not getting enough sleep - One of sleep’s many health benefits is improving memory. Not snoozing enough can affect your ability to learn new things by up to 40% and it can affect the part of the brain responsible for making new memories.
- Multitasking - If we’re not paying attention or get distracted, it can result in what looks like forgetfulness, health psychologist Julia Kogan explains. Distraction can also happen when we multitask, which is why she recommends focusing on one thing at a time.
- Not being active - Regular exercise, which doesn’t have to be strenuous, helps reduce the risk of some common illnesses linked to memory loss, including high blood pressure and diabetes, Goldman says. Plus, exercise increases blood flow to the brain and some research shows that being sedentary is linked to thinning in some brain regions that are important for memory.
- Taking certain medications - Neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez says medicines like antidepressants, allergy meds, and blood pressure stabilizers can affect memory because of their sedative properties. Other medicines that can make you more forgetful include cholesterol-lowering drugs, narcotic painkillers, antihistamines and incontinence medications.
- Drinking alcohol - Booze can damage brain cells and lead to memory problems and psychotherapist Valentina Dragomir points out that research shows long-term drinking causes the brain to get smaller.
- Not eating certain foods - If you want to boost brain function, Harvard Medical School recommends eating plenty of leafy veggies, fatty fish, berries, tea and coffee, and walnuts.
Source: Huff Post