As someone in the process of studying for the GRE, I am forever on the lookout for cool new memory tricks. The photographic memory I prayed for has not yet arrived, but the good news is this weird trick will make you remember things better. Even better, this weird trick involves "resting." So. I'm obviously in.
According to a recent study by Michaela Dewar published in New Scientist magazine, just cramming your mind with information over and over again is not the best way to remember it all. Your brain is a muscle, and like all muscles, it needs a rest every once in a while.
A lifetime ago, I swam competitively, and in the final weeks leading up to States, we'd "taper" — as in, cut down our practices and weight training to give our very, very, very tired muscles some time to recover. And then we'd roll up to States and feel like the strongest, fastest mermaids ever. It was awesome.
The same concept applies to your brain! Dewar found that either resting or focusing on an unrelated task for 10 minutes after learning new information helps with long-term retention. See, resting is good! But in case you hate sitting quietly for 10 minutes (not on your phone — I mean truly unstimulated), here are a few more ways to become a memory wizard:
1. Attach Additional Meaning to Less Exciting Data
Our brains just aren't really wired to remember bits of straight data like passwords and PINs and birthdays, which are known as declarative data. The only real way to keep that ish on lock is make a concerted effort to learn it. Attach some sort of additional meaning to a date — July 12 is eight days after the Fourth of July, for example.
2. Quit Multitasking
Yeah, I know, we are all constantly thinking about and doing 20 different things, but we're really doing a detriment to ourselves memory-wise. Studies have shown that it takes eight seconds for a piece of information to fully register in our brains, so try to focus, at least for a few moments, on the task at hand.
3. Get More Sleep
Dudes, it's unavoidable — getting the proper amount of sleep affects pretty much everything. Eight hours. Uninterrupted. Every night.
Images: Giphy (3)