In today’s world, we glorify being busy. The less sleep we get, the better, right? After all, that gives us more time to get work done or catch up on a Netflix series. Well, if you’re looking to naturally improve your memory, you may want to rethink this philosophy. In fact, studies on sleep from around the world are showing that lack of sleep is one of the single greatest contributors to all-cause mortality there is. So it’s not just your memory that will benefit by letting yourself catch that extra hour of sleep at night.
Our brain is like any other muscle – when we use it, it grows. It just doesn’t grow bigger like other muscles (at least not on the outside!). The ability for our brains to grow this way, even as we age, is a relatively new medical concept called “neuroplasticity.” And it turns out that this plasticity is largely induced and supported by sleep.
Haven’t you ever heard the expression “sleep on it?” This isn’t just an old wives’ tale. Sleeping is clinically proven to make you better at connecting ideas, thinking abstractly, and relating memories. You can almost think of sleep as giving your brain time to process and put in order everything it’s experienced throughout the day. Is it any wonder you wake up with your memory improved, then?
Getting Enough Sleep
The average adult needs about eight hours of sleep each night. This is optimal for keeping your memory sharp and even improving it if you are sleeping less than this. Try to stick to a somewhat predictable schedule – no one’s perfect, an hour or so difference from day to day won’t hurt – so that you are sleeping sooner and getting the most of the time you spend horizontal. Making your sleep schedule more efficient this way will allow you to squeeze more time asleep in than you otherwise thought was available to you.
If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, don’t be afraid to take a nap if you can get away with it. Short bursts of sleep when you really need it are almost certain to boost your brainpower and your memory along with it. Over the long-term, ensuring that you are getting enough sleep at night or by supplementing with naps is one of the best ways you can naturally and permanently improve your memory.