A series of programmes lasting fifteen minutes every day last week on Radio 4 called How to Have a Better Brain highlighted various behaviours and foods that can have an impact on prevention of memory loss and other brain functions.
It was all very interesting and encouraging, not least the ingestion of dark chocolate before cognitive tests leading to improved scores. Nice one!
One thing I liked was the significant influence of writing a diary every night, detailing events of the day, on memory recall for a lady with accelerated memory loss. Remembering what we’ve done through the day from our own perspective is important in helping us feel connected with our lives, and to avoid memories slipping away with time, reviewing the day’s events prior to sleep helps consolidate the memories overnight.
Apparently, tests performed in research on memory recall have shown significantly higher scores when facts were learnt at night BEFORE sleeping and recalled the next morning compared with when facts were learnt in the morning and recalled later that day. It seems that memories are laid down during our sleep in the night. As we learn something new during the day, a new connection is formed in the brain and as we sleep that connection is strengthened and reinforced forming a memory.
Another important nugget about sleep is that dwelling on traumatic or negative things that have happened to you, just before you sleep, leads to enforcing the memory of that event and strengthening the emotion of fear attached to it. So, think of happy things that you’ve experienced that day, things that you’re grateful for, and you’ll have the best chance of remembering all the good stuff in your life. Also, could be helpful for students studying for exams?