Things that you remembered clearly earlier are now forgotten easily.
Does that sound familiar? Does it mean that your recall value has dimmed? Can it be reversed? This is a peculiar problem faced by many in their mid-30s and also mid-40s and, yes, there are quite a few things that can be done to improve your memory.
Among the many reasons for memory loss are highly stressed lifestyles, smoking, alcoholism or medical conditions like thyroid, depression, diabetes or insomnia.
The way you live, what you eat and drink and the manner in which you treat your body has a direct effect on your mental health. So maintain a good physical and mental health.
‘Learn to manage stress’
Earlier it was believed that only senior citizens suffer from memory loss but in present times due to changing work cultures, sleep deprivation, psychological and also physical stress, many middle-aged people suffer from memory loss.
The other reasons are drug abuse, high-intake of alcohol, nutritional deficiency or sometimes even a severe head injury.
A number of prescription and over-the-counter medications like antidepressants, anti-allergy drugs, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills and painkillers after surgery are also found to cause memory loss.
Dr C.H. Gopal, consultant neurologist, Sunshine Hospitals, explains, “We have found that stress and anxiety play a major role in modern life. People have to learn to manage stress. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and also a mindful approach towards healthy living can help. Incidences of memory loss are very few among those who have the above-mentioned healthy practices as part of their daily routine.
‘Good sleep is important for the brain’
Several students, after the age of 13, need to attend extra classes and put in several hours of study in preparation for competitive exams. These children get up early and sleep late. Their eating and sleeping patterns get adversely affected. These factors, in turn, affect their power of recall.
Dr Jayadeep R. Chaudhuri, senior neuro physician of Yashoda Hospitals, explains, “Good nutrition, inclusive of high-quality proteins and fats, is important for proper brain function. Deficiencies, specifically in vitamin B1 and B12, can affect memory. Also, the quantity and quality of sleep is important for good memory. Getting little sleep or waking frequently in the night interferes with the ability to consolidate and retrieve information.”
At least eight hours of good sleep is important for the brain as it helps to consolidate memories. Improve your sleep habits by sleeping only when you are tired, avoid caffeine before you go to bed, have a light dinner, don’t take too much of fluids at night and exercise or do yoga regularly.
‘Symptom of an underlying disease’
A healthy body has a healthy memory. Loss of memory could sometimes be due to underlying problems in the kidneys or the liver which will not allow the brain to function properly. The most common problem for memory loss apart from stress is infection. Dr Chandrashekar Naidu, senior neurologist at KIMS, explains, “Infection in the blood, urine, lungs or hormonal changes like thyroid, diabetes and even the presence of toxins in the body can cause memory loss.”
Evaluations have found that when infections are not treated properly they could lead to problems such as memory loss, hence, care must be taken to cure infections completely. For instance, if one is suffering from TB it does create a strain on the memory and it is important that patients are counselled to indulge in simple and easy games like puzzles, playing cards or other mind-benders to work on their memory.
Here’s how You can stimulate your brain
* Solve puzzles and mind-benders on a daily basis; play games like sudoku, chess and cards.
* Get into the habit of learning new things like recipes, driving routes, musical instruments or foreign languages.
* Read magazines, newspapers, books and novels that challenge you.
* Take a course in an unfamiliar subject that will keep you interested and also engage your brain in continuous learning cycle.