4 Habits That Could Be Accelerating Cognitive Decline

BY Mat Lecompte TIMEDecember 23, 2021 PRINT

By now, you might be aware that a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet can hurt brain function and memory. But there is more to brain health than eating well and being active.

There are several lifestyle habits that may be chipping away at brain health and accelerating cognitive decline. However, the good news is that changing just one habit has the potential to change how your brain works to help you age better. It’s also never too late to start.

Here are four habits that could be deteriorating your memory and thinking ability:

Dwelling on the Negative: Holding onto grudges, resentment, and ruminating on negative thoughts won’t just put you in a bad mood; it is also associated with cognitive decline and memory loss in people 55 and older.

One study, in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, found that people who dwelled on negative thoughts had more amyloid and tau deposits in the brain, which are hallmark indicators of Alzheimer’s. You can try to spruce up thinking patterns by writing down things you are grateful for and thinking about them.

Too Many Sugary Beverages: It might be time to reconsider that big glass of morning OJ. A study from 2017 showed that sugary beverage consumption was linked to higher episodic memory and lower total brain volume.

The takeaway: avoid sugary soda and sweet tea and replace your morning “fruit drink” with some real, fibrous fruit and a glass of water.

Poor Sleep: Getting high-quality sleep is essential to a productive mind. Sleep scheduling is important. So is going to bed and waking up at consistent times, as well as room temperature and brightness. You want your bedroom to be slightly on the cool side and as dark as possible.

Loud Headphones: If something is bad for your ears, it is bad for your brain, too. A study of 639 adults aged 36 to 90 found that mild hearing loss was associated with roughly double the risk of dementia.

If others can hear your earbuds or headphones, the sound is up too high. One way to test the volume is to hold your bud/headphone at arm’s length. If you can hear it, turn it down.

It’s also worthwhile to wear foam earplugs to concerts and sporting events.

Mat Lecompte is a health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on

Mat Lecompte
Starting as a journalist over 10 years ago, Mat has not only honed his belief system and approach with practical experience, but he has also worked closely with nutritionists, dieticians, athletes, and fitness professionals. He embraces natural healing methods and believes that diet, exercise and willpower are the foundation of a healthy, happy, and drug-free existence.
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