We all know how stressful it can be trying to cram for a test. The test anxiety compounds, too – you worry about being able to remember all of your notes, and then the worries distract you from being able to focus, which in turn makes you even more worried about forgetting everything! It’s a vicious circle.
What if we told you that there are a few tricks that you can try, right now, to improve your memory overnight? The techniques outlined in this article have been studied and proven to be effective at boosting short-term memory and bringing information into your long-term memory storage.
So how can I improve my memory overnight?
Before we go further, there’s something you should know. These tricks are great for improving your short-term memory, but if you use them consistently, you’ll also notice some significant improvements in your day-to-day recall and your capacity to store information.
These tricks aren’t like short-acting nootropic supplements that bolster your cognitive power for a few hours or a day – with determination and practice, they can physically rewire your brain and make it more capable of recalling and forming memories.
What’s even more important is that these tricks can be improved exponentially if you use them in conjunction with other memory-boosting techniques. We’ve written another article on boosting memory over the long-term, and we’ve also written an article on one of the techniques that we’ll talk about in this article – chunking. In addition, we have many pages of information on brain-boosting supplements, some of which we use in Noocube, that are known for improving memory.
Regardless of whether or not you plan to use these techniques over the long term, for the sake of your test results you might want to get creative and combine different memory-boosting practises. Should you choose to use supplements or apply additional memory techniques, these tricks will significantly increase in efficacy. Either way, you’ll definitely find the confidence to ace your next test!
1. Keep fit
Everyone knows how important it is to maintain a good level of physical fitness to keep your body in shape. What people tend to underestimate is the value of physical exercise for your mental health.
Doing cardiovascular exercise (anything that gets your heart pumping for more than twenty minutes) triggers your endorphin system. Endorphins are your body’s natural opioids. When they’re released, you feel relaxed, pleasant, and happy – this is what causes the “runner’s high.”
Cardiovascular exercise is important for more than just keeping you fit and getting you high, though. It increases the circulation of blood throughout the body and subsequently increases the amount of oxygen that your brain receives. Oxygen is brain fuel, and you need lots of it to ensure that the rest of your neurotransmitter systems can work in harmony.
If you live a lethargic life, the chances are that your brain is a bit oxygen-deprived. This is not the ideal state for your mental health. You’ll be surprised how much your memory improves if you start going for jogs every couple of days or hitting the gym! Getting your heart pumping hard for at least twenty minutes a day will set you on the path to a long, well-remembered life.
2. Practice repetition
Technically, by definition, you’re already practicing repetition if you’re studying. There are ways that you can refine this technique for your own benefit, though.
You can use repetition to strengthen the synapses (the connections between neurons) in your brain. When you learn something new, your brain automatically tries to relate it to something that you already know through a process known as assimilation. This process creates a new connection.
Repetition strengthens the new neural connections. By repeatedly reaffirming the information and relating it to what you already know, you’ll build a much stronger connection that you’ll be able to access more easily, thus having less trouble recalling the information. This is why you’ve been told to read your notes over and over since time immemorial. However, you don’t necessarily have to study your notes to strengthen your memory.
You can use repetition on arbitrary information throughout the day, such as phone numbers you find or lists of items on sale. This will help to bolster your memory. Also, there’s no harm in dedicating time and effort to studying something you think you know already. Doubling back on things you already know might trigger you to recall something you’ve recently learned. This allows you to strengthen the web of connections that constitutes your neural network and will ultimately improve your memory as a whole.
3. Start chunking!
This technique works incredibly well when combined with repetition. The two work pretty well on their own, but if you combine them both, you’ll probably surprise yourself with the sheer volume of information you’ll be able to recall.
Chunking works by manipulating the brain’s basic capacity for committing new information to memory. Researchers have discovered that the average person can retain roughly five “bits” of information. That could be five numbers, five words, five objects … whatever.
What chunking does is allows you to combine similar “bits” of information into “chunks.” Each chunk will constitute a new bit, and you’ll be able to remember larger amounts of data more easily by using this technique.
Let’s say you’re trying to remember a number: 43298574. Chances are, you won’t be able to remember that off the bat (or if you do, it’s because you’re using repetition to solidify the number in your short-term memory).
To chunk this information, split the 8 individual “bits” into four bigger “chunks” of information. Instead of remembering 43298574, try remembering 43, 29, 85, and 74. Your brain is naturally wired to be able to commit roughly five bits of data to its short-term memory, and the goal of chunking is to take a large number of bits and reduce them into a smaller number of bigger chunks.
This can be applied to many areas. You can use chunking to help yourself remember a shopping list by grouping together similar food items. You can use it to recall the anatomy of a fish for a biology exam by grouping together similar-sounding organs. Get creative – group things together that aren’t intrinsically related. This will force your brain to build new synapses, which you can strengthen through repetition while continually expanding your brain’s sphere of connectivity.
There are a ton of techniques out there that you can use to improve your memory. If you haven’t been using these long-term techniques, though, and you’re due for a test, no worries. The techniques we’ve discussed today can all be easily practised and will provide you with almost instantaneous improvements to your memory!