Whether it’s memorizing material for a test, remembering to run an errand after work or not forgetting your friend’s birthday, many of us wish we could improve our memory. For some, it comes more natural than others. But the good news is, there are some hacks you can implement into your life to remember important things better, and to see better results over time. This will help keep your mind strong and brain healthy. Read more about how to improve memory retention. 

Use it or lose it.

Memory is like a muscle. If you never work out your arms, they won’t get stronger. How you retain information works in the same way. To keep your memory strong, do things that challenge it whenever you can. This is anything you have to learn that keeps your brain challenged. Puzzles like crosswords, Sudoku or Lumosity, and learning a new skill like a language or an instrument are two of the best things for this. Try learning a new language on DuoLingo. Bonus: You’ll earn credit in the BetterYou app!

Write and rewrite.

Writing things down increases our memory retention more than just hearing them. This is why writing down notes is more effective than typing them, albeit more time consuming. Then, if you go over those notes within 24 hours, your retention will improve 70%. Turn that into a habit, and you’re bound to see improvements in your retention over time. Get in the habit of physically writing and rewriting things you need to remember. If it’s something you’re worried about forgetting, write it on a few post-it notes and stick them around the house, in your car or at the office.

Get enough sleep. 

When we don’t get enough sleep, memory is one of the first to go when it comes to the cognitive issues common with sleep deprivation. Concentration and memory retention weaken with just one night of getting less than six hours of sleep, and if this continues long term they get even worse. This is why they tell you it’s better to get adequate sleep rather than cramming for a test overnight. Your recall will be better in the morning and you’ll perform better than if you lost sleep trying to memorize material. 

Diffuse rosemary essential oil. 

Research on rosemary shows it has powerful effects on short-term memory recall. Studies showed strong evidence that rosemary, in essential oil form significantly increased students’ short-term memory and image memory compared to a control that wasn’t exposed to it. Invest in an essential oil diffuser to subtly fill the room with the aroma, and use rosemary in it whenever you want to improve memory retention. You can try others like lavender for better sleep, and peppermint to wake you up in the morning.

Get active.

Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week (or 75 minutes of intense exercise) means more blood flow and oxygen to the brain, improving cognition. Studies suggest exercising increases the amount of cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and long-term memory.  

So, as far as how to improve memory retention, have a “use it or lose it” mentality. Keep your brain active, physically write things down, live a healthy and active lifestyle, and try tools like rosemary oil when you need a boost.