10 Effective Strategies for Improving Your Memory

10 Effective Strategies for Improving Your Memory

Memory is a fundamental aspect of human cognition, shaping our understanding of the world and facilitating learning, problem-solving, and decision-making. Its significance transcends individual experiences, as memory collectively forms the basis of cultural knowledge and societal progress. 

As human life expectancy increases, cognitive decline and memory impairment threaten independence and quality of life. Therefore, finding prevention and treatment strategies for memory impairment is an important health concern. Thus, memory function is not only crucial for daily functioning but also plays a pivotal role in various neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative conditions. 

Disorders like Alzheimer's disease, characterized by progressive memory loss, highlight the intricate relationship between memory and brain health. Similarly, neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and ADHD underscore the importance of memory in shaping social interactions, communication, and adaptive behavior. Understanding the mechanisms underlying memory impairment in these conditions is essential for developing effective interventions and enhancing overall cognitive well-being.

As research explores deeper into the complexities of memory formation and retrieval, the significance of adopting effective strategies for memory improvement becomes increasingly evident. These strategies not only offer practical tools for enhancing memory performance in everyday life but also hold promise for mitigating cognitive decline associated with aging and neurological disorders. 

By incorporating these 10 evidence-based techniques for memory enhancement into daily routines, individuals can empower themselves to optimize cognitive function, maintain mental sharpness, and preserve brain health across the lifespan.


1. Engage in Regular Physical Exercise

A recent study conducted in 2022 with older adults [1] revealed compelling findings. Researchers observed that exercise training leads to enhanced memory performance through neuroplastic changes. Moreover, they found that sustained moderate aerobic exercise offers particularly potent neuroprotective benefits, highlighting its significance for cognitive health and longevity.

Therefore, physical activity is not only vital for maintaining physical health but also plays a crucial role in cognitive well-being. Regular exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, which can significantly enhance memory functions. It's recommended that individuals strive for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, which could include activities like brisk walking, swimming, playing racket sports, or cycling.


2. Prioritize Quality Sleep

Science tells us that quality sleep optimizes memory consolidation, while wakefulness is more conducive to memory encoding [2]. 

For this reason, quality sleep plays a vital role in memory consolidation—the process of forming and stabilizing memories, and adults should aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. This way, establishing a regular sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine will improve sleep quality and, consequently, overall memory. 


3. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can enhance focus and memory. These practices help reduce stress, which can negatively impact memory. Even just a few minutes a day can make a difference.

A study on Consciousness and Cognition [3] revealed that individuals who meditated for 20 minutes for four days showed lowered stress levels as well as significant improvements in memory and cognition. Those who meditated also scored as much as 10 times better on a working memory task.


4. Continue Learning

Engaging in new learning activities stimulates the brain and can improve memory. Consider learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, or enrolling in online courses on topics of interest.

According to science, learning how to play instruments can affect how people behave and think, from childhood to old age. In one study [4], researchers looked at nearly 300 kids aged 10 to 14 in Italy. Some of these kids were in schools where they learned music as part of their regular classes, while others were in schools without music lessons. The kids who learned music showed better skills in things like remembering things they see and think about solving problems. This was especially true for kids in their last year of middle school. Also, girls seemed to do a bit better than boys in some tests. While this study doesn't prove that music lessons directly cause these improvements, it suggests that learning music could be really helpful for kids as they grow up.


5. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Research [5] shows that eating a diet high in fat and sugar can affect how our brains work, making it harder for us to learn and remember things. These changes can also make us want to eat more of these foods, even when we're not hungry. 
This research is important because it helps us understand how our diets affect our brains and can help us find new ways to improve our health and well-being.

According to Reichelt, A. C. et al. (2017) [5], a poor diet can increase the risk of cognitive problems, while eating healthy foods can help protect against them. In a study by Lu et al., researchers compared the diets of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to those with normal cognitive function. They found that certain nutrients like carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 were linked to a lower risk of MCI, possibly because they have antioxidant properties. Additionally, getting enough monounsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol in your diet was also associated with a reduced risk of MCI. 

Another study by Wang et al. looked at the effects of food scarcity during different stages of childhood on cognitive function in adulthood. They found that experiencing famine during fetal development or childhood was linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of MCI later in life. This research highlights the importance of having access to nutritious food, especially during early life, for maintaining healthy cognitive function as we age.


6. Use Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are memory techniques that help organize and recall information. Examples include acronyms, visualization, rhymes, and chunking. These strategies leverage the brain's natural tendency to remember stories and patterns.

In the study The Effectiveness of Four Mnemonics in Ordering Recall from 1980 [6] , four groups of participants were taught different memory techniques: imagery, the link method, a peg system, or the method of loci. 

Compared to a control group, all the groups using mnemonic techniques showed better memorization of 20-word lists when asked to recall them in any order. The study suggests that mnemonic techniques have a greater impact on the order of recall than on the overall number of words recalled, and that previous studies may have underestimated their effectiveness by only testing item information.


7. Stay Socially Active

The concept that maintaining a robust social life can contribute to better health is not a new one. Similarly, the idea that older individuals who maintain close connections with friends tend to preserve cognitive abilities longer than those who are more socially isolated has been around for some time.

Seeking clarity on this issue, researchers from Ohio State University in Columbus embarked on a study using a mouse model [7] . 

Their findings suggested indeed that simply having a larger social network can have a positive impact on the aging brain. For this reason, it’s essential to engage in social activities, join clubs or groups, and maintain meaningful relationships at all times of life.


8. Limit Multitasking

Amidst the proliferation of digital media and technologies, there's growing discussion among scholars, educators, and the public about the influence of the 'attention economy' on our daily lives. This contemporary digital landscape intersects with longstanding scientific inquiries into human memory processes—why we sometimes remember and sometimes forget, and why memory abilities vary among individuals. 

In a study from 2020 [8], researchers investigated whether spontaneous attention lapses, occurring in the moment and across different individuals, negatively impact memory retention. Results revealed that lapses in attention just before remembering were linked to decreased neural signals related to goal coding and memory, leading to forgetfulness.

This suggests that attention lapses play a role in shaping our moment-to-moment memory abilities and contribute to individual differences in memory retention, with heavier media multitasking correlating with a higher likelihood of attention lapses and subsequent forgetfulness.

We can understand that, while multitasking may seem efficient, it can actually lead to reduced productivity and memory retention. So it’s crucial to focus on one task at a time to improve concentration and memory performance.


9. Manage Stress

Scientists have shown multiple times that experiencing stressful events can impact brain regions responsible for memory processes such as encoding, storage, and retrieval. 

In a 2020 study, researchers examine experimental studies investigating the effects of cortisol, a stress-related hormone, on long-term memory retrieval.

Findings from the reviewed studies suggest that stress leads to retrieval impairment in healthy young males. These results provide insights for future investigations into the effects of stress-related cortisol surges on memory retrieval processes.


10. Use Light Therapy

A recent research from the University of Birmingham in the UK and the Beijing Normal University in China [10] concluded that it's possible to improve short term memory with 1064nm LED-based transcranial photobiomodulation (PBM) in normal adults by around 10%.

This research showed that light therapy at 1064nm can improve short term memory, as evidenced by increased occipital-parietal activity in the brain as measured by event-related potentials.

Neuronic offers home light therapy devices designed by professionals for convenient and non-invasive brain wellness care for everyone, including memory improvement. You can learn more about this device here.


Memory is an essential cognitive function crucial for daily life, learning, and overall well-being. As research delves deeper into understanding memory processes, effective strategies for memory enhancement are emerging, offering promising avenues for optimizing cognitive function. 

Incorporating evidence-based techniques like regular exercise, quality sleep, mindfulness, continuous learning, healthy diet, mnemonic devices, social engagement, limited multitasking, stress management, and light therapy can empower individuals to enhance memory performance and preserve brain health across the lifespan. By adopting these strategies, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain mental sharpness and cognitive vitality.

Remember, consistency is key, and even small changes can lead to significant improvements over time.


[1] Babaei, P., & Azari, H. B. (2022). Exercise Training Improves Memory Performance in Older Adults: A Narrative Review of Evidence and Possible Mechanisms. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 15, 771553. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2021.771553

[2] Rasch, B., & Born, J. (2013). About sleep's role in memory. Physiological reviews, 93(2), 681–766. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00032.2012

[3] Zeidan F, Johnson SK, Diamond BJ, David Z, Goolkasian P. Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: evidence of brief mental training. Conscious Cogn. 2010 Jun;19(2):597-605. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.014. Epub 2010 Apr 3. PMID: 20363650.

[4] Lippolis, M., Müllensiefen, D., Frieler, K., Matarrelli, B., Vuust, P., Cassibba, R., & Brattico, E. (2022). Learning to play a musical instrument in the middle school is associated with superior audiovisual working memory and fluid intelligence: A cross-sectional behavioral study. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.982704

[5] Reichelt, A. C., Westbrook, R. F., & Morris, M. J. (2017). Editorial: Impact of Diet on Learning, Memory and Cognition. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 11, 96. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00096

[6] Roediger, H. L. III. (1980). The Effectiveness of Four Mnemonics in Ordering Recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 6(5), 558-567.

[7] Smith, B. M., Yao, X., Chen, K. S., & Kirby, E. D. (2018). A Larger Social Network Enhances Novel Object Location Memory and Reduces Hippocampal Microgliosis in Aged Mice. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 10, Article 142. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2018.00142

[8] Madore, K.P., Khazenzon, A.M., Backes, C.W. et al. Memory failure predicted by attention lapsing and media multitasking. Nature 587, 87–91 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2870-z

[9] Klier, C., & Buratto, L. G. (2020). Stress and long-term memory retrieval: a systematic review. Trends in psychiatry and psychotherapy, 42(3), 284–291. https://doi.org/10.1590/2237-6089-2019-0077

[10] Zhao, C., Li, D., Kong, Y., & Liu, H. (2022). Transcranial photobiomodulation enhances visual working memory capacity in humans. Science Advances, 8(48). DOI:10.1126/sciadv.abq3211

Back to blog