Have you misplaced your face mask (which you later discovered was on your face) or forgotten the name of a favourite actor? According to Sheena Josselyn, Ph.D., a senior neuroscientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, it could be the stress, sleep deprivation, and multitasking of the previous year catching up with you and making you forgetful and fuzzy-headed.
Numerous products claim to boost memory, but research consistently demonstrates that maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are some of the best methods to do so. We asked professionals which to remember and which to put aside. (Ask your doctor about a cognitive evaluation if you detect a noticeable change in your memory.)
What they are: App-based puzzles, memory games, and other mental challenges.
What is known: Independent studies demonstrating the long-term advantages of these games are few and far between. According to Barry Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurology and cognitive science at Johns Hopkins, “You can get lot better at crossword puzzles, but it doesn’t guarantee you’re going to remember to feed the dog.”
Should you try them? It won’t harm you. Although low-tech activities like reading also keep your brain engaged, they are enjoyable and do so, according to Josselyn.
Brands to try: Peak, Elevate, and Eidetic (all free, with in-app purchases)
Caffeine in drinks or pills
What it is: A herbal stimulant that can be found in green and black tea, as well as supplements, and coffee.
What we know: Although the evidence is not conclusive, coffee and tea seem to have some memory-enhancing properties. According to an analysis of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, people who drank more caffeine had a lower risk of cognitive impairment than people who drank the least. The amino acid L-theanine, which may lessen the jitters caused by caffeine, is frequently included in supplements that contain caffeine.
Do you want to test it?Yes, but before taking any supplements, talk to your doctor. And take your caffeine early in the day because research suggests that getting enough sleep is important for preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s in the brain.
Try these brands: Sakara Nootropic Chocolates, Bulletproof Neuromaster capsules, Gaia Herbs Green Tea capsules.
What they are:Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or transcranial alternating current stimulation (TACS) headbands or forehead patches are used to send pulses to the brain.
What is known: TMS and TACS have been shown to help age-related memory decline when administered by researchers or doctors, but Dr. Gordon questions whether people will see the same benefits with home-use devices.
Must you give them a try?Spend less money. Instead, both experts suggest setting a reminder on your watch or phone to walk more or go for a run. In studies on animals, aerobic exercise has been found to boost blood flow to the brain and create new brain cells.