Has this ever happened to you? You walk into a room and suddenly stop, forgetting why it was you went in there. Maybe every once in a while you can’t remember where you put your wallet, or you stop in the middle of a sentence because you lost your train of thought.
If you’re over the age of 50, you may worry that these “senior moments” are a symptom of something worse than sheer forgetfulness, that they may be a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
But memory loss can happen at any age and for a number of different reasons, some of which are very surprising. Here are some of the most common reasons people experience memory loss:
Not Enough Sleep
One of the biggest culprits behind memory loss is a lack of sleep. Most people require 7-9 hours of sleep per night. However, the average American gets only 5-6 hours of sleep each night.
While most of us pretend this little sleep is normal and okay, it is not okay for the health of our brain. Research has shown that a lack of sleep affects learning and memory. Sleep is necessary to make memories stick so that they may be recalled in the future.
If you have trouble sleeping or have sleep apnea, your memory may be affected.
There are a couple of big vitamins your brain requires to work optimally. Those are vitamin D and B-12. But, as we age, our bodies stop absorbing nutrients as well as they used to. This is exacerbated by eating a poor diet consisting mostly of processed foods that offer little in the way of sound nutrition. It is recommended that people over the age of 40 supplement their vitamin D and B-12.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are several types of medications that negatively impact memory:
- Sleeping pills
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Cholesterol lowering medication
- Diabetes medication
If you have been having trouble with your memory and are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor to see if there are safer alternatives.
5 Ways to Protect Your Brain
The good news is, there are simple things you can do to improve your memory. Beyond changing medications, getting more sleep, and supplementing with vitamins, here are 5 ways you can protect your brain as you age.
Keep Your Mind Active
Scientists have discovered that brain activities, specifically those that challenge your brain to think in new ways, stimulate new connections between nerve cells. These activities may even help your brain create new brain cells, something once thought impossible.
Make sure you do something that stimulates your brain each day. Read, solve logic puzzles, take new courses and try tasks that require mental dexterity such as painting and other hobbies.
Get Plenty of Physical Exercise
Research has shown that physical exercise is important for the health of our brain as well as our body. When we exercise regularly, we increase the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the part of the brain responsible for thinking and memory.
Exercise also helps your brain create new nerve cells and increases those connections between cells. And, as if all of this wasn’t good enough, exercise also lowers your blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, and helps reduce stress, all of which are good for your brain.
Avoid Common Vices
A healthy brain means avoiding tobacco in all its forms. It also means not overdoing it with alcohol. While one or two glasses of wine or spirits is fine, even good for you, drinking in excess has been linked to developing dementia down the road.
Be Kind to Your Emotions
When given cognitive function tests, those who are anxious and depressed tend to score poorly. While poor scores on cognitive tests don’t automatically mean cognitive decline in your senior years, there is enough of a connection to suggest taking care of your emotions is important to the overall health of your brain.
If you are currently experiencing anxiety or depression, it’s important that you speak with a mental health professional who can help.
Build Social Networks
Studies have shown that friendships play an important role in how our brains age. Strong social networks have been associated with a lower risk of developing dementia.
It’s important to create and maintain social connections as you age. Join groups and/or reconnect with friends you’ve lost touch with. Not only will you have more fun in your life, you’ll be able to remember all the fun you’re having.
If you’re looking for other ways to improve your memory, then you’ll absolutely want to watch this video. Dr. Mitchell will share the results of a groundbreaking study that proved memory loss is 90% reversible – without the need for harmful drugs.