Memory loss can occur for many reasons. Head injuries can sometimes result in amnesia causing sudden memory loss, while illnesses like Alzheimer’s can cause gradual memory decline. In some cases, bad habits can play a part in the development of memory loss. Below are just a few bad habits that could be worth breaking if you want to preserve your cognitive functions.
Skimping on sleep
It is while we are asleep that we build and retain our memories. If you’re not regularly completing a full sleep cycle, you could start to experience some mild memory loss. Studies also show links between poor sleep quality early in life and a higher risk of developing dementia.
How much sleep should you be getting per night to protect your memory? Ideally, we should all be getting 6 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you have a bad habit of going to bed late when you need to be up early the next morning, it could be time to start being more strict with bedtime. Struggle to get to sleep early? It could be worth trying some of these tricks to help you get to sleep more easily.
Eating junk food
Several studies have linked the heavy consumption of junk food to cognitive illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. There are several reasons as to why junk food may have this effect. Firstly, junk food contains few of the necessary nutrients that our brain needs. Secondly, junk food can cause high blood pressure, disrupting blood supply to the brain. Thirdly, eating lots of junk food can lead to unhealthy insulin levels, which may stop hormones related to building memories from responding.
Switching to a healthy diet could reduce the risk of developing memory problems. This involves low amounts of added sugar, low amounts of processed fat and more natural foods.
Drinking too much alcohol
It is well known that drinking alcohol can affect our short-term memory – many of us have experienced a drunken blackout after a heavy night of drinking. However, regular heavy drinking may also increase the risk of developing dementia in the long run. This is because long-term alcohol consumption can cause brain damage.
To help protect your memory, consider whether you need to reduce your alcohol consumption. Where possible, try to the recommended alcohol limit of 12 units per week.
Not wearing your hearing aid
There are strong links between hearing loss and memory loss, including a higher risk of developing dementia. Untreated hearing loss is often the biggest problem as it causes the cognitive part of our brain to work overtime in order to process new information, which may lead to poor building of new memories.
If you need a hearing aid, make sure that you’re wearing it. There are now various hearing aid styles out there to choose from. By exploring different options, you can find the right style for you.
Smoking reduces the flow of oxygen to the brain. It is strongly believed that this can damage our sense of memory in the long run. In fact, studies have found that smokers are 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than non-smokers.
If you needed another reason to quit smoking, this could be it. There are lots of different methods of quitting worth trying from vaping to hypnosis – explore different ways of quitting until you find one that works for you.