So it’s common knowledge that the elderly, as they age, are plagued by deteriorating memory. But this isn’t just because their bodies are failing. It’s because they’re not able to get adequate amounts of restful sleep!
>> Sleep Deprivation May Be Behind Memory Loss in Elderly <<
Scientists at UC Berkeley conducted surveys where they tested subjects of all ages on memory retention and then tested them again after a night of sleep. While most of the subjects performed on par with one another before sleeping, the elderly performed much more poorly afterwards. So seniors aren’t actually worse at remembering; their brains are actually impaired by the inability to process new memories brought on by lack of restful sleep!
So for those of us who are not getting adequate amounts of deep sleep, we’re basically performing at the cognitive level of senior citizens.
Breaking news: exercise is good for your brain! In a study published last April, researchers at Dartmouth tested how a month of exercise can affect a person’s memory. Not so surprisingly, they found that those that exercised for at least 30 minutes daily showed much improved memory functions than those that had remained sedentary.
>> How Exercise Can Jog the Memory <<
Conversely, fatty foods were shown – in a separate study – to seriously detriment the brain’s cognitive functions over time. In a lab study in rats, they found that a high-fat diet actually lead to an accelerated decline into dementia! But they also found that exercise effectively counteracted these declines in cognitive function. So if you think you’re eating too many cheeseburgers, hit the gym, and you should be good!
>> Can Exercise Protect the Brain From Fatty Foods? <<
But both studies found that the positive effects of exercise on the brain (increased neuron production, improved memory, etc) could only be sustained with continued exercise. In as little as 3 weeks of inactivity, the brain can become indistinguishable from those that had never engaged in exercise to begin with.
>> Do the Brain Benefits of Exercise Last? <<
This is unrelated but still very interesting: Babies start to recognize language from inside the womb!!
>> Babies Seem To Pick Up Language In Utero <<