How to improve memory retention

If you feel that your memory is fuzzy and could use a boost, then one of the ways you can change that is through improving your memory retention. It is described at one’s ability to keep information for the purpose of using it in the future with varying durations.

When it comes to memory retention, we have to look at short term and long-term memory. The short-term memory is where you store information for a little while. For example, when you’re introduced to a new group of people at a networking event.

If you’re asked a minute later, you may be able to recall most of their names. Long-term memory is the database where all the data gets kept, and not everything makes it there. You might forget some of the people at the event, especially if you didn’t have a rapport with them.

Another type of memory to know about is sensory memory, where you remember the sight and sound of something, and you can formulate a mental image of the same in your mind.

Tips for improving memory retention

Some factors affect how you retain memory. Let’s explore them below.

Get adequate sleep

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One of the top ways to improve memory retention is through getting sufficient sleep. When you get enough rest, your sensory memory gets firmly embedded in your long-term memory. Sleep is not only beneficial for memory retention but also improves one’s ability to recall.

Overall, sleeping does strengthen the mind and makes it less likely to get altered through environmental interference. As you read through the remaining methods of how to improve memory retention, remember that without a good night’s rest, none of them will work.

Take note of your emotions

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Your emotional state can equally affect memory retention. The stronger the emotion attached to an image, a word, or an event, the more you’re likely to recall it with clarity.

The mind prioritizes what long-term memory to store based on the intensity of the emotion attached to the memory, whether good or bad. Here, the amygdala plays a vital role in the processing of emotions.

Eat well

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Diet has continuously been stated as one of the ways to improve your health, and brain health is no exception. If you’re not eating the right kind of food, then your memory will most certainly suffer. You want to eat a balanced diet that doesn’t target one part of the body but even your mind.

Generally, it’s not only about memory retention; food plays a huge role when it comes to physical and psychological health.

Pain management

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If you’ve tried taking instructions when you’ve stubbed your toe, then you know how near impossible that of a task is. Being in pain affects how we retain memory because the pain is typically competing with our sensory memory.

Simply put, pain makes paying attention quite tricky, so it can affect how we intake information, and as a result, recollect it. If you are indeed dealing with chronic pain or long-term pain of any nature, then you will have to deal with that before you consider working on our memory retention.

Learn something new

This next point might sound counter-intuitive; however, learning a language or a nee expansive subject can aid in memory retention. It is long-term, but during the process, that can indeed happen.

The reason why learning a new subject or topic is important is because you can build a memory reserve. Since you’re learning something new, all-new material you get at that time can easily get stored in the long and short memory.

Focus your attention

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We also tend to underestimate the value of attention when there is too much going on in our life. However, you’ll notice that when you have split focus, remembering everything that was going on at the same time is next to impossible.

If you do want to recall material, let say a subject you’re studying for, then you’ll need to have distractions like your phone and general noise to the minimum or eliminate them.

Have Interest

If you’ve failed or barely passed a subject, it is an indication that your interest doesn’t lie there. For example, finding math hard might, in some cases, be due to a lack of interest. That does not mean that you entirely eliminate things that you’re not interested in.

The best thing to do is to learn the basics of a subject. From there, you can learn the item in its entirety. Even with that, you have to ensure that there is some form of reward; it doesn’t make sense to retain information on Partial Differential Equations if you do not apply them in your daily life.

However, if you will, then the reward for you could be becoming that much better at your job.

Choose essential areas of a subject

It is not possible to be an expert in an entire subject. If you love history and are trying to learn the issue, it is impossible to know everything there is to consider how long the world has been in existence and the number of countries we have.

In this case, the best way to ensure memory retention is to focus on a singular topic in history and know everything there is to know about it. That is how you’ll become an expert.


Committing information to memory also has to do with the confidence you have. If you do purpose to be good at an issue either out of enthusiasm or interest, then you will have a more natural time learning and recalling. If you are not confident in your ability to remember, then you’re likely not to retain anything you’ve learned.

It is perhaps because your mind is too wrapped up in negative thoughts for you to understand and keep the information in your mind.

Understand the content

If you’re having a conversation with someone or learning, then you’ll need to cultivate understanding if you want to retain its content. The rote method of memorization lasts for a short time, typically after the test. After, it no longer exists in your long-term memory.

However, using your experienced and beliefs to make sense of what gets said or what you’re learning will allow you to retain information better. It is easier to maintain and recall a thing that has meaning to you.


How do you know if you understand what you’ve just read? The best way is to recite it. Speaking out loud allows you to hear what you’ve learned and further cement it into your mind. Also, as you summarize, you’ll notice any gaps in content or understanding that you have.

From there, you can reread the content to fill in anything that’s missing. You want to adopt recitation after every subheading or new chunk of material to ensure you’re retaining what you’ve learned. An even better way to ensure memory retention is through reading paragraphs out loud.

Wrap up

There are indeed quite a few things you can do to improve memory retention at any age. It does require you doing more than you’re used to, but the payoff is worthwhile.