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Neuroscience Says This Simple 5-Minute Routine Boosts Memory and Learning and Helps You Fall Asleep Faster

Originally posted on inc.

Remember more, feel less anxious, fall asleep faster — in just five minutes.

Most of us can type faster than we can write. Over the years I’ve gotten fast enough that I can type, verbatim, what people say when I interview them. (Sometimes I’m a half-sentence behind, but I’ve also learned to be able to talk while I finish typing what they just said.)

That’s a handy skill that makes me a lot more productive, but here’s the thing: I don’t remember much of what I typed. Sure, I can remember certain phrases, or cool points the other person made… but generally speaking, it’s a mechanical, relatively thoughtless skill.

Science says I’m not alone. A 2014 study found that handwriting notes leads to better retention and understanding. In fact, transcribing verbatim, rather than processing information and reframing it in your own words, is detrimental to learning. Why? Instead of serving as a quasi-stenographer, you’re forced to put things in your own words in order to keep up — which means you’ll remember what you heard a lot longer.

recently published study also found writing things down by hand helps improve memory and retention. When you type, areas of your brain that support memory-building don’t appear to light up. Since writing is sensory heavy — movement, feel, etc. — your brain better encodes information. Bottom line: The more your senses are engaged, the more your brain activates and engages. And they don’t appear to be as engaged when you type.

Longhand note-takers mind-wandered less and, in turn, demonstrated superior retention of content.

Maybe that’s why Richard Branson has maintained a lifelong habit of keeping a handwritten journal. Maybe that’s why Warren Buffett has kept a journal for over 50 years. Maybe that’s why Elon Musk has journaled since he was a teenager in order to record his thoughts and ideas and stay focused on his goals. If it works for them….

And then there’s this.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found spending five minutes before bedtime hand-writing to-do lists, things you don’t want to forget, ideas you might want to pursue — in short, things you want to remember for the next day — will help you fall asleep faster.

You’ll also fall asleep much faster than if you write down things you completed. Getting things you want to remember out of your head and onto paper means you won’t have to worry or stress about whether you’ll remember them tomorrow… which will make falling asleep tonight a lot easier. As Getting Things Done author David Allen once told me, “Your head is for having ideas, not holding ideas, and it’s certainly not for filing things away. Without exception, you will feel better if you get stuff out of your head.”

Which means there’s also this.

A good way to improve your memory is to get a good night’s sleep, which starts with falling asleep relatively quickly. A 2016 study published in Psychological Science found that people who studied before bed, then slept, then did a quick review the next morning not only spent less total time studying, they also increased their long-term retention by 50 percent.

As those researchers write:

Converging evidence, from the molecular to the phenomenological, leaves little doubt that offline memory reprocessing during sleep is an important component of how our memories are formed and ultimately shaped.

Want to remember things? Write them down by hand.

Want to remember tasks? Spend five minutes before you go to bed handwriting tomorrow’s to-do list.

Not only will you remember more, you’ll also fall asleep a little faster.

Win-win.

Source: inc.

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