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5 simple ways to improve your memory

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Having a sharp memory is almost always a positive thing.

These are five yours to sharpen yours, according to Readers' Digest

1. A good night’s sleep can improve your memory

Wondering how to improve your memory? It starts with plenty of rest. Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally would tonight, and then every following night until you find you’re getting the amount of sleep your body needs. A large body of evidence supports the role of sleep in consolidating, cementing, and even restoring our memories.

2. Clear your mind

Before you engage in a task or activity in which you need to remember new information, close your eyes, empty your mind and practice deep breathing for at least 2 minutes. The deep breathing helps clear your mind and lower your stress hormones, both of which, studies find, can enhance your brain’s ability to absorb new information.

3. Train your brain to pay attention

When you receive new information you need to remember, tune out everything else and stay actively focused on the facts. Giving a subject your alone attention helps it “stick” in your memory.

4. Take memory-boosting herbal supplements

Begin taking 60 to 80 milligrams of ginkgo biloba 2 or 3 times a day. If you’re taking a test of any sort that requires you to draw on your memory to recall facts and figures, take a dose of 120 to 180 milligrams one or two hours beforehand. Ginkgo is a potent antioxidant and one of the most important herbs in our arsenal when it comes to memory and learning. If ginkgo alone doesn’t do it for you, try adding 75 milligrams of the Chinese herb dang shen (Codonopsis pilosula), which one study found improved memory more than ginkgo alone.

5. Drink coffee

Drink one or two cups of caffeinated coffee a day. Studies find that coffee—more likely, the caffeine it contains—improves alertness and some forms of memory. Population studies even show lower levels of Alzheimer’s disease in people who drink coffee.