Does Meditation Increase Dopamine Levels?

does meditation increase dopamine levels

Dopamine is a vital neurotransmitter in your brain that has many functions.

It plays a role in motivation, memory, attention, reward, and even regulating your physical movements.

When released in high amounts, dopamine gives you a sense of pleasure, euphoria and reward – motivating you to repeat the behavior that caused this dopamine surge.

By contrast, low levels of this crucial brain chemical are linked to anhedonia, low motivation and lack of enthusiasm for pursuing your goals.

The good news is, you can boost your dopamine levels naturally by making various lifestyle changes – one of the most efficient ones being meditation.

Meditation and Dopamine – The Research

Meditation – it’s an ancient practice of focusing your mind, getting in touch with your inner self and letting your thoughts go by without attachment or judgment.

Some people do it while sitting, others do it standing, and some even do it when walking. In any case, regular meditation practice is linked to better overall health.

But can meditation increase dopamine levels? Recent research says it can.

In one study, eight experienced meditators experienced a 64% increase in their dopamine production after one hour of meditation, compared to when just resting quietly. [1]

It’s been suggested that these neurochemical changes might keep meditators in a better mood and more motivated to keep meditating for longer periods of time.

What’s still unclear, though, is whether meditation’s dopamine-boosting effects only occur in experienced meditators, or if they happen in ‘newbies’ too.

READ: How to Stick to Meditation Consistently? Experts Share 5 Key Tips

Anything Else to Consider?

While meditation can be an effective way to boosting your dopamine levels, it’s just one part of the bigger puzzle.

If you want to have an optimized brain, then you should aim to cover other aspects of your lifestyle as well – such as exercise, sleep, nutrition and supplementation.

Some vitamins and minerals are required by your body to make dopamine. These include niacin, vitamin B6, iron and folate.

If you become deficient in any of these nutrients, your body might have trouble creating enough dopamine to meet its needs. If you’re unsure if you’re deficient in these nutrients, make sure to go check with your doctor – there are tests you can do to check levels.

In addition to having your nutritional bases covered, a number of other supplements have been associated with increased dopamine levels. These include green tea, l-theanine and l-tyrosine

Another thing you should watch for is your sunlight exposure. Some people are more affected by seasonal affective disorder than others. When they don’t get enough sun, they become depressed and anxious.

This is because of how lack of sunshine affects your dopamine production – or lack thereof. You might have heard that sunshine helps boost ‘serotonin,’ another neurochemical crucial for mood and healthy emotional well-being. But it’s just as important for dopamine synthesis.

In one study involving 68 healthy adults, those who had the most sunlight exposure over the course of 30 days also has the highest dopamine receptor density in their brain’s reward circuits. [2]

Just be careful not to overdo it. Too much sun is damaging and can cause you much more harm than good. If you aren’t used to getting much sun, start slow by going outside for 10 minutes, and by avoiding sun during peak hours (11AM-4PM) Then gradually increase your exposure time as your body starts to adapt.

And don’t forget to speak with your doctor! This article isn’t meant to be advice, make sure to do your own research to determine what’s best for your situation.

READ: 3 Meditation Techniques for Focus & Memory

Conclusion

To summarize: yes, meditation does boost dopamine. It’s been shown to raise dopamine levels in human studies, however, it isn’t well known whether these benefits only apply to experienced meditators or new meditators too.

Dopamine is a crucial brain chemical that governs everything from your mood, motivation and feelings to physical movement.

Your body generally regulates dopamine levels well, but a few diet and lifestyle changes can give you a boost naturally.

A clean and varied diet consisting of lean protein, micronutrient-rich foods, probiotics and some healthy fats will go a long way.

Lifestyle choices can be powerful too. Meditation is one of the best ways to enhance your natural dopamine production, however, you need to stay consistent to reap all of its amazing benefits.

Give it a go and let me know below how it’s worked for you.

Further Reading

References

  1. Kjaer TW, Bertelsen C, Piccini P, Brooks D, Alving J, Lou HC. Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2002;13(2):255-259. doi:10.1016/s0926-6410(01)00106-9
  2. Tsai HY, Chen KC, Yang YK, et al. Sunshine-exposure variation of human striatal dopamine D(2)/D(3) receptor availability in healthy volunteers. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2011;35(1):107-110. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2010.09.014
About Valentino M. 86 Articles
Valentino is a nutritionist, author, spiritual practitioner, and health coach. He's been researching nutrition and brain health since 2015, and has launched Valentino's Naturals to help people maximize their cognitive performance. When he isn't writing, Valentino loves to travel around Europe, spend time recharging in nature, and research topics within his field of expertise. More...

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*