the motivation molecule
We know that dopamine is an essential component of our goal setting behaviour but what is it and how does it help us stay motivated? In this blog we provide further information on the motivation molecule and give tips on how to regulate your dopamine levels for optimal wellbeing.
At the molecular level, dopamine is a catecholamine, a compound containing a catechol and an amine group. This unique structure gives dopamine its biological activity and allows it to interact with dopamine receptors in the brain and the body.3,4
Therefore it is important to engage in activities that can help to regulate dopamine levels in the brain. For example, regular exercise (especially in the morning), a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can all help to support healthy dopamine function. In addition, certain medications and supplements may also be able to help regulate dopamine levels in the brain when prescribed by a health professional.6,7,8,9 In studies it has been shown that viewing light within the first two hours of waking can have a positive effect helping to set your internal circadian rhythm through increased production and circulation of various neurotransmitters such as cortisol, serotonin and dopamine. This uptick in availability after viewing light in the morning also has the added benefit of increasing motivation and improvement in mood to achieving goals. 8,9,10
By avoiding activities and substances that can cause excessive dopamine release and engaging in activities that support healthy dopamine function, you can help to maintain a healthy balance of dopamine in your brain which is important for physical and mental wellbeing.6,7,8
9. Grace, A. A. (1991). Phasic versus tonic dopamine release and the modulation of dopamine system responsivity: A hypothesis for the etiology of schizophrenia. Neuroscience, 41(1).
10. Bedrosian TA, Nelson RJ. Timing of light exposure affects mood and brain circuits. Transl Psychiatry. 2017 Jan 31;7(1):e1017. doi: 10.1038/tp.2016.262.
11. Moore AR, Zhou WL, Potapenko ES, Kim EJ, Antic SD. Brief dopaminergic stimulations produce transient physiological changes in prefrontal pyramidal neurons. Brain Res. 2011 Jan 25;1370:1-15. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.10.111