A night to re­mem­ber!

How hav­ing reg­u­lar sex in your 50s ‘can give you a bet­ter mem­ory’

Daily Mail - - News - V.allen@dai­ly­mail.co.uk By Vic­to­ria Allen Science Cor­re­spon­dent

PUT away the Sudoku … there could be a bet­ter way to im­prove your mem­ory.

Aca­demics claim that hav­ing a healthy sex life past 50 may help you to re­mem­ber things.

Their find­ings – from a study of more than 6,000 English re­spon­dents – are be­lieved to be con­nected to the ‘plea­sure hor­mone’ oxy­tocin.

It is re­leased dur­ing love­mak­ing and kiss­ing and is im­por­tant for ac­ti­vat­ing brain cells in the hip­pocam­pus – the mem­ory cen­tre of the brain.

Sleep­ing with or cud­dling some­one you are close to can also re­duce stress hor­mones, which pre­vent the cre­ation of brain cells im­por­tant to the re­ten­tion of mem­ory.

Dr Mark Allen, who car­ried out the re­search at the Univer­sity of Wol­lon­gong in New South Wales, Aus­tralia, said: ‘The find­ing that more fre­quent sexual ac­tiv­ity was as­so­ci­ated with bet­ter mem­ory per­for­mance com­ple­ments pre­vi­ous re­search that found sex­u­ally ac­tive older adults per­form bet­ter on cog­ni­tive tasks.’

The study, re­ported in the jour­nal Ar­chives of Sexual Be­hav­iour, uses data from the Health Sur­vey for Eng­land in 2012 and 2014. It did not find that sex prevented the de­cline of mem­ory over those two years, but this could be due to the short time pe­riod con­cerned.

How­ever the re­sults did show that the mid­dle-aged who have reg­u­lar sex did bet­ter in a snap­shot mem­ory test, in which they were told ten words to re­mem­ber.

The 6,016 adults were given a record­ing of the words, asked to re­call them once, and then again af­ter an un­re­lated set of tests.

Those who did bet­ter also scored more highly in a ques­tion­naire about their sex lives.

This asked if they had ex­pe­ri­enced any sexual ac­tiv­ity in the past year, how many times they had had sex in the past month and how fre­quently they en­gaged in kiss­ing, pet­ting and fondling.

Those who said they felt emo­tion­ally close to their part­ner dur­ing sexual ac­tiv­ity were also more likely to do well in the mem­ory test. While re­mem­ber­ing ten com­mon words like ‘pa­per’, ‘child’ and ‘flag’ may seem ba­sic, pre­vi­ous re­search has found the test re­lates to how well our mem­o­ries work in ev­ery­day tasks.

A bet­ter score could even mean bet­ter per­for­mance in things such as re­mem­ber­ing a shop­ping list or mak­ing im­por­tant fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions.

The study found sex ap­peared most im­por­tant for mem­ory in adults over 60.4 years old, which backs up the the­ory that the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of brains be­gins at 60.

It also sup­ported ex­per­i­men­tal re­search that found sexual ac­tiv­ity in male rats im­proves their abil­ity to recog­nise things.

Dr Allen wrote that find­ing sex did not fully slow down mem­ory loss was a ‘lit­tle sur­pris­ing’, but he added this was prob­a­bly due to the two-year time­frame con­cerned in the study, and that more re­search is needed.

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