Medically reviewed by Next Health Clinical Director, Jessica Brewer
Ever wondered how motivation works in your brain? It's a complex symphony involving different brain regions, hormones, and your ability to set goals. More than just crossing tasks off your to-do list, motivation affects your energy and emotional well-being.
What is Motivation?
The brain systems responsible for motivation are crafted over time, starting from early development. These intricate neural circuits, shaped by our experiences and genetics, drive our actions and behavior towards our goals.
Types of Motivation:
- Intrinsic motivation: Doing something because it brings personal satisfaction. For instance, playing an instrument because it's enjoyable and improves skills.
- Extrinsic motivation: Completing a task for a reward or to avoid consequences, like practicing an instrument for a competition or to avoid criticism.
The Dopamine Drive
Your brain's reward system governs motivation by influencing dopamine levels—a vital hormone and neurotransmitter.
Dopamine, released by the brain as a reward mechanism, motivates action to achieve something beneficial or avoid something negative. It influences your brain before rewards, encouraging action.
Your brain doesn't respond to external rewards but associates events with internal chemical releases, like dopamine. The prefrontal cortex, linked to executive control, influences motivation levels. Telling yourself you're progressing towards your goals stimulates dopamine release—a power within your cognitive control.
Improving Your Motivation
To establish a healthy baseline level of dopamine:
- Spend 10-30 minutes in early morning sunlight daily without wearing sunglasses or directly staring at the sun (eyeglasses and contacts are acceptable). This exposure triggers dopamine release and, with consistent practice, boosts gene expression for specific dopamine receptors. Additionally, consider taking a brief 1-3 minute cold shower, as cold temperatures are known to significantly elevate baseline dopamine levels for several hours, provided it is done safely.
- Include tyrosine-rich foods in your diet, such as red meats, nuts, or hard fermented cheese. Tyrosine, an amino acid and a dopamine building block, supports your body's natural dopamine production. It's essential to consider the caloric and nutritional contents of these foods. Plant-based sources of tyrosine are also available and can be found through a simple web search.
- Avoid melatonin supplements, as they can decrease dopamine levels and disrupt regular sleep patterns: Reserve melatonin usage solely for cases of jet lag; alternative options are preferable like magnesium and herbal teas.
- Refrain from exposure to bright lights between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m: Bright light exposure during these hours activates the habenula brain region, leading to a significant reduction in circulating dopamine levels. If necessary, ensure any light exposure during these times is minimal. Infrequent exposure is permissible, but avoid habitual exposure, especially if you are a shift worker or dealing with jet lag.
- Ingest Caffeine: Consume caffeine, approximately 100-400mg, through sources like coffee or tea. While this prompts a mild dopamine increase, it also enhances the availability of dopamine receptors, making your body more receptive to circulating dopamine. However, it's advisable to avoid caffeine intake close to bedtime.
- Increase your NAD+ levels with NAD+ Therapy: NAD+ is a coenzyme that recharges your cellular batteries. Most adults have depleted levels of NAD+ by the age of 35, so increasing your levels can naturally improve your energy and motivation levels.
- Vitamins for Brain Health: If your brain is lacking key vitamins and minerals, it will not function optimally. Boost your brainpower with the Next Health Brain IV for better focus, motivation, and creativity.
Brain Motivation: Final Thoughts
In essence, understanding how your brain processes motivation can empower you to drive your goals forward by leveraging your brain's reward system and your cognitive control.
Discover more about the profound impact of motivation on your brain and how you can harness it for your benefit.
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