Dopamine is among the many neurotransmitters in the brain that acts as a chemical messenger to make you feel motivated. It’s instrumental in making you feel satisfied in your head after you complete or accomplish a task. Dopamine is also released in the brain when you play sports or exercise, learn a new skill, or get recognized by your boss at work.
So what’s the big deal about dopamine?
The Dopamine Factor
You might hear about dopamine a lot in your brain enhancement journey, simply because of its role as a “motivation molecule.”
This means it provides the drive, focus, and concentration you need to be productive and have fulfilling days ahead. It is involved in many key cognitive processes such as focus, attention span, follow-through, and even the ability to relish and experience pleasure.
On the downside, if there is a deficiency of dopamine levels in your brain, rest assured there will be some kind of imbalance that exists. You could feel fatigued, apathetic, forgetful, unfocused or difficult to concentrate, difficult to sleep, moody, and have oh-so-low motivation. What’s more, you might notice you crave sugar so bad!
This is why we can’t really blame people who seek out their own “dopamine fix” in less-than-healthy ways, such as loading up on nicotine, caffeine, and sugary treats. While all very effective at ramping up levels of dopamine, these things can pave the way for addictive behavior.
5 Ways to Increase Dopamine Naturally
Let it be your goal to avoid quick dopamine boosts that disrupt the chemical’s natural production and decrease it in the long term. Here are five ways you can be dopamine-dominant minus the nasty side effects and unnatural techniques.
- Track your tyrosine. The body needs tyrosine in order for it to make dopamine. Thus, it’s always a good first step to tweak your diet and introduce more tyrosine through bananas, almonds, eggs, fish, chicken, and beans, to name a few. And since dopamine is produced from both tyrosine and another amino acid known as phenylalanine, having a protein-rich die might serve you well. You may also find tyrosine as a common component of brain-enhancing supplements – a sound option if you don’t get enough of it in your everyday diet.
- Get moving! Exercise can boost endorphin levels and improve mood. Improvements in mood, for instance, can be noticeable after as little as 10 minutes of cardio exercise, although they tend to be at their peak after at least 20 minutes. The benefits may not be entirely because of changes in dopamine levels, but research nonetheless suggests that exercise can be a natural dopamine booster.
- Have adequate restful sleep. When there’s dopamine released in the brain, you experience being alert and wakeful. According to animal studies, dopamine is released in huge amounts in the morning, during waking time, and levels naturally drop in the evening when it’s time to sleep. A lack of sleep appears to interrupt this natural rhythm, and when you stay awake at night the amount of dopamine receptors in your brain is significantly reduced by the next morning.
Because dopamine helps in wakefulness, decreasing the sensitivity of the receptors should incite falling asleep better. With less dopamine, though, you potentially get reduced concentration as well as poor coordination. A key to balanced dopamine levels might then be regular, quality sleep.
- Enjoy a massage. Evidence suggests that one way to keep your dopamine levels at an optimum level is to manage stress. One way to do this is to take advantage of the effects of massage therapy, which can increase dopamine levels by up to 30% while reducing levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
- Listen to music. Did you know that your music playlist can be a fun way to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain? According to a number of brain imaging studies, listening to music raises activity in the reward and pleasure areas of the brain. These areas are chock full of dopamine receptors. Listening to music has even been linked to improvements in the fine motor control of Parkinson’s disease patients.
Like what you’re reading? Keep posted for more tips and techniques not just to obtain rich amounts of dopamine in the brain (the natural way), but also to supercharge your brain to new and exciting heights!