If you set down your phone and instantly forget where you put it, there’s a good chance your memory needs some work. There are various factors that influence one’s cognitive function and just as many ways to give it a boost.

Here are some simple steps to develop a better memory. 

Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

One of the biggest factors in memory function is the quantity and quality of our sleep. Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on numerous within the body, including hormonal function, weight management and digestion, stress management, and cognitive function.

Start by creating an ideal sleep environment. Ensure that the room is dark and cool to help support the body’s natural state during periods of rest. If you have an older mattress, you should consider upgrading to something that suits your body and lifestyle— here are some ideas to get you started.

You should also schedule a restful period leading up to bedtime, reducing screen time whenever possible. The blue wavelengths from computers and smartphones disrupt your natural circadian rhythm. While you might fall asleep easily, the quality of that sleep may be lacking and contributing to your poor memory.

Engage in Challenging Activities

Think of your brain as a muscle that needs targeted work to become stronger. Engaging in challenging activities that get your brain working is a great way to prime your mind for better memory storage.

Activities like reading, creative expression, logic puzzles, etc., all help improve your brain’s executive function. Your executive function is what allows your brain to focus on what’s happening and retain information.

Have you ever driven home from work and realized upon pulling into your driveway that you don’t remember the commute? This memory lapse happens during repetitive tasks, like driving your usual route because your executive function filters the information you need. However, if you’ve driven in a storm, your complete attention is required, and you likely remember the whole drive. 

Schedule Time for Self-Care

Chronic stress can also damage your memory and prevent you from retaining important information. During periods of intense stress, your mind struggles to form short-term memories. Additionally, it makes it more challenging to turn short-term memories into long-term memories. This brain fog is especially common for those struggling with depression or anxiety.

Schedule time for self-care to help you de-stress and unwind. Self-care doesn’t have to be bubble baths or yoga; it can be other forms of movement or mindfulness practices. Schedule time with people that bring you joy or step away from the things that cause you harm.

Unplug from Technology

While technology does a lot of good for the world, it can be damaging to your self-esteem, stress levels, and memory. Aimlessly scrolling through your phone is not conducive to engaging your brain and practicing productive memory conditioning.

Set time limits for technology throughout the day. If you spend all day on the computer, try to get some extra outside time when you get home rather than going online. Leave your phone out of reach at night time to avoid getting sucked into the YouTube rabbit hole or scrolling TikTok all night. This practice will also help you get better sleep, improving your memory all the more.

Eat Nutritious Food

The food you consume can also help improve your memory. Give your body and mind what it needs, with lots of lean protein, leafy greens, and healthy fats. If you struggle to get adequate nutrition, consider taking supplements to fill the gap. Fish oil supplements, in particular, are fantastic for supporting your cognitive function and helping you retain memories.

With these simple steps, you can start to improve your memory, focus, productivity, and your life.