Happy grandparents building and strengthening relationships with grandchildren: One of the best ways for how to improve your memory

How To Improve Your Memory: 16 Methods To Try

There’s a whole lot of snake oil out there when it comes to how to improve your memory. Mobile games claim that “neuroscientists are begging people to play”. Facebook images say they are able to measure your IQ. And there’s a new health food craze every time you turn around.

There's still some good news for those serious about improving their brain health, though. Some things genuinely do improve memory, and science has checked. These methods can help boost your memory and overall brain health, and they’ve been shown to do so in carefully-run studies. 

From mental exercise to supplements to improve memory, here are the best ways to keep your brain healthy.

16 ways to improve your memory

There are two general rules of thumb for how to improve your memory. The first is to start as soon as you can. The more time you have to strengthen your brain, the less susceptible it’ll be to the natural memory decline caused by old age. 

The second is to make sure you understand how and why your memory-boosting techniques work. This will help you sort the helpful tips from the unhelpful ones. When looking for memory loss supplements, for example, check the ingredients list. 

The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements as closely as medicine. This leads to supplements claiming to help with memory problems despite having ingredients with no evidence to support them. Checking the ingredients is the best way to choose a supplement that will make a difference.

But supplements and diets aren’t the only thing you can do to help your memory. Checking for things that might be impacting your memory problems and making a few daily changes are the most effective ways to help your brain health. 

Here are the top ways you can improve your memory:

1. Visit your doctor

Before you do anything else, schedule an appointment with your medical provider. This is especially important if you’ve noticed a sudden change or worsening of your memory. 

Everyone forgets things from time to time, but a significant change could be a sign of a more serious health problem. If you’re wondering how to improve your memory because you’re forgetting things you normally wouldn’t, or struggling to remember basic things throughout your day, seek medical help right away.

Even if you haven’t noticed a change, give your doctor a call. Several different medical conditions can impact memory, such as vitamin B12 deficiency and hypothyroidism. These conditions might only cause some slight changes in your memory, so it’s important to get a check-up to make sure there isn’t anything causing your memory to worsen faster.

2. Check your medication labels

Some medications have side effects that include impacting memory and attention. A few of these include antidepressants, hypertension prescriptions, and medications used to manage high cholesterol. 

Other strategies for how to improve your memory, like eating foods that improve memory, will still be good for you if you’re on one of these medications! 

If your memory problems are caused by medication, though, you might not see a huge improvement. You should always take your medications as prescribed, but if the side effects are impacting your life, talk with your healthcare team about your next steps. 

3. Learn something new

Our brains’ ability to grow and change is a lifelong strength known as neuroplasticity. The more you challenge and engage your brain, the better your neuroplasticity will be. Your memory benefits from learning new skills and information, because it allows your brain to build and strengthen the pathways it uses to retrieve information.

Learning any challenging new skill will help, but learning something you can build on is best as far as how to improve your memory. Remembering multiple tasks in a sequence or remembering complex tasks is the best way to improve your brain's ability to remember things.

4. Try out techniques from memory pros

Memory competitions require the participants to memorize increasingly difficult and complex pieces of information. People who compete in these regularly can memorize the order of playing cards in a deck in just a few moments! They all use the same handful of techniques in their memory training

Borrowing tips and techniques from memory pros can help you on your journey to improve your memory. Even though you’re not competing, having a solid practice routine will give you a consistent way to strengthen your brain over time.

5. Build and strengthen relationships

You can start using supplements to improve memory and try out different brain-training techniques on your own, but you aren’t in this alone. And you shouldn’t be! Loneliness worsens memory problems because our brains are just simply not meant to be alone. 

One of the easiest tips for how to improve your memory is building and strengthening relationships with your neighbors, family, and friends. You can even work on improving your memories together!

6. Check in on your mental health

Different mental health issues can impact memory and mental functioning. Taking supplements for mental health can help improve mental health symptoms, including memory. 

For those dealing with grief, depression, or anxiety, the answer for how to improve your memory will be in treating the mental health issue causing the problem. 

Reach out to your healthcare team or a licensed mental health professional if your memory problems come alongside worsening mental health. And if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, remember that the National Alliance on Mental Illness hotline can be reached 24/7 by dialing or texting 988.

7. Manage stress

Tips for how to slow aging, how to improve your memory, and even how to sleep better at night all include managing stress for a reason. Stress has a huge impact on both our physical and mental health. Stress might be causing or worsening your memory issues in a few ways. 

The first might be that there’s just too much to keep track of. If this is the case, try to find ways to cut back on the number of tasks on your plate and slow down. Giving your brain less to keep track of in the first place can allow you to practice memory techniques more deliberately. 

Chronic stress is also linked to physical changes in your brain. These changes make it more difficult for your brain to both create and retrieve memories, even when you aren’t under as much stress. 

You can manage your stress by seeking mental health help when needed, avoiding over-commitment, and picking a spiritual or meditation practice.

8. Organize your space (and your day)

Another simple tip for how to improve your memory is to get rid of the clutter. Physical clutter in your space can cause anxiety and mental fatigue

Your brain is constantly making little decisions in the background, including what to pay attention to. When your space has lots of objects jostling for your attention, focus can decrease, making it hard to remember what you came into the room for!

Organizing your day can also be part of your plan for how to improve your memory. This might include keeping a planner, so you don’t have to rely solely on your memory to make sure you’re making it to appointments. 

Or, keep a diary where you enter everything you can recall doing throughout your day. Over time, you might notice that you can recall more detail as a result of your memory strengthening.

9. Spend time in the great outdoors

You already know being outside is good for you, from the better air quality to sunshiney vitamin D. But being outside has a direct link to better cognitive function and working memory

Why nature has such a profound impact on our mental health is unknown, though there are a few theories currently being explored. 

10. Get your heart pumping

Regular exercise isn’t just good for your heart and lungs, it’s also great for your brain. Exercise is one of the few tools for how to improve your memory that you don’t have to wait to see results from. 

Exercise has positive effects on memory over the long term, but it also improves memory during and after your workout. 

Getting aerobic exercise is best, but even moderate exercise like walking can improve memory and overall health. 

Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen intake, which can improve brain health. But a good workout also engages your brain by requiring full-body coordination, even in simple exercise, allowing your brain to create and strengthen connections.

11. Cut back on sugars and fats

Body health is brain health, and what you feed your body, you’re also feeding your brain. Foods high in sugars and fats impair brain functioning and can cause or worsen memory problems. Sugars and fats aren’t foods that improve memory because of their impact on your health. 

These foods increase inflammation and contribute to health problems linked to memory problems, like high blood pressure. 

You don’t need to cut out sweets entirely as part of your strategy for how to improve your memory. Just choosing your meals and snacks more thoughtfully can protect your physical and mental health in the long run.

12. Keep your sleep schedule regular

You wouldn’t forget to charge your phone, so don’t forget to “charge” your brain, either. Sleeping allows your brain and body to rest and regroup, and sleep deprivation can have serious effects on your brain’s ability to form and retain memories. 

Getting too little sleep causes your brain to lose connections in the regions associated with learning and memory. Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night is a simple, accessible step when you’re looking at how to improve your memory.

13. Drink red wine, green tea, or coffee

What do red wine, green tea, and coffee all have in common? They’re rich sources of polyphenols – antioxidants that are powerful brain-protectors. One glass a day is one of the simplest ways to improve your memory by putting more polyphenols in your diet.

And with red wine and coffee, it’s best to stick to one glass. Too much alcohol or caffeine can have a negative impact on memory, but green tea is low enough in caffeine not to cause the same adverse effects.

14. Stay hydrated

Another simple tip for how to improve your memory? Drink plenty of water! 

Simply drinking a glass of water caused participants in several studies to improve on memory and cognitive tests. 75% of your brain mass is water, which means dehydration can have a massive impact on the way your brain functions and your overall mood. So drink up!

15. Eat foods that improve memory

How can you tell the foods that improve memory from the ones that don’t? There’s no one right answer, but there are a few general rules of thumb. 

You could start by talking with your healthcare team about adopting the MIND diet. This diet focuses on eating lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins like fish, poultry, and beans. 

The MIND diet can help improve cognitive functioning and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 53%.

Learning how to improve your memory through your diet is best done with the help of a registered dietitian or other nutrition specialist. They can help you assess your individual needs and daily diet to make adjustments as needed.

16. Take supplements to improve memory

Taking supplements for your memory can be a dicey business. Many supplements have ingredients that don’t have strong scientific backing, and few are transparent about where they source their ingredients from. 

When you’re adding supplements as part of your plan for how to improve your memory, simplicity is the way to go. The fewer active ingredients you need to research, the more time you can dedicate to choosing the best ones available.

One of the best supplements to improve memory is collagen. The benefits of taking collagen extend to your full-body health. And remember, body health is brain health! 

Collagen can specifically improve cognitive functioning and memory. One study found that taking collagen peptides over a 4-week period even changes the structure of your brain. 

What are collagen peptides? Collagen is a large molecule, and collagen peptides are that same molecule broken into smaller parts so your body can more easily absorb it. Otherwise, it would just pass through your system undigested, without giving the benefits to your brain!

How to improve your memory by improving full-body health

Improving your memory is simple, but it isn’t always easy. Changes like eating more foods that improve memory, starting a dedicated memory practice, and exercising can be challenging. 

When it comes to how to improve your memory, you’ll want to include a mix of challenging things and manageable steps. 

Taking supplements to improve memory can be a great first step, especially when you choose simple, powerful supplements. Medical-grade collagen can help improve full-body health, and give your brain an extra-powerful boost.