Dopamine Fasting: Treat to Your Brain or Maladaptive Fad

Last Update on June 18, 2021 : Published on March 15, 2021
Dopamine Fasting

This might sound strange to you, but do you know that dopamine fasting is the only fast that does not include dieting! How exciting does it sound? To keep it more simple, dopamine fasting is a new kind of fast wherein you don’t have to give up your favorite foods. The aim is to abstain from pleasurable activities.

Some people related “dopamine fasting” with the Silicon Valley concept. The idea was to make people understand about resetting dopamine receptors.

Related Read: What is dopamine deficiency?

Now, the question arises here, how are you going to do it? Dopamine levels can reset with the help of abstaining from things or stuff that brings you pleasure like social media, smartphones, foods, eye-contact, Netflix, video games, and more.

Dopamine fasting was first cited by California psychiatrist Dr. Cameron Sepah, is not directly connected to either dopamine or fasting. Instead, it is a mechanism that tells you how “addiction could become reinforced”.

Now people from Valley are trying to abstain from the most addictive things in life be it tech, food, human contact, or even sex. The whole practice is done to rejuvenate their mind & body and reset their mental state for a good.

So, is Dopamine Fasting a way to fix your brain or just a maladaptive fad from Silicon Valley? This blog covers the new way of treating your brain and resetting dopamine receptors: “Dopamine Fasting”.

So, let’s get started.

What is Dopamine?

what is dopamine
Molecular Structure of Dopamine

Dopamine also called a chemical messenger is a type of neurotransmitter that your body generates naturally. This naturally occurring brain chemical uses your nervous system to send messages between nerve cells. It plays a crucial role in how we feel pleasure.

What is Dopamine Fasting?

Dopamine fasting is the newest type of fasting that has nothing to do with diet. With the help of Dopamine Fasting, people generally abstain from pleasurable interactions that could change dopamine levels in the brain.

The whole idea behind the concept of “Dopamine Fasting” is to address compulsive behaviors that interfere with your happiness. Dopamine Fasting helps in controlling the dominance of technology in the day to day life. The other benefit of Dopamine Fasting is that you can expect fewer notifications, beeps, and rings.

Furthermore, Dopamine Fasting is based on cognitive behavioral therapy and also addresses compulsive behaviors.

Moreover, six important compulsive behaviors that are directly related to dopamine fasting are emotional eating, shopping and gambling, Internet & gaming addiction, recreational drugs, novelty-seeking, and porn. Therefore, the idea is to control these compulsive behaviors that might cause stress or affect life negatively.

Related Read: 20+ Stress-reducing activities for everyone

The Science Behind Dopamine Fasting:

[1] Research says that taking a break from activities stops the turning of the dopamine system. However, it does not reset it. That does not clear up the mind. Dopamine fasting resets the dopamine receptors. When you try to reset dopamine levels through dopamine fasting, it increases the pleasure of resting. As dopamine was thought to be a pleasure neurotransmitter or chemical, however, researchers have evidence about its working more deeply.

Dopamine is basically related to motivation and is an important part when someone discusses the treatment of addictions. However, it is more complicated than this. Dopamine is related to the large rewards system in our brain. Rewards are considered for the things that we want and like.

To understand this let’s take an example, whenever you hear the notification sound in your phone from a distance, you wish to see the text. This happens because the sound of notification triggered dopamine. These little things are triggers for dopamine. These small hits of dopamine are invigorating, they are distressing and distracting.

Benefits of Dopamine Fasting:

benefits of dopamine fasting

1. Increases ability to focus

With the help of dopamine fasting, you can increase your capability of focus. As dopamine fasting is related to the idea of less stress and distractions. This can happen by bringing some positive alterations to your everyday lifestyle.

2. Increases self-motivation

As dopamine fasting improves focus, it directly increases self-motivation and this self-motivation helps in increasing daily productivity. Dopamine fasting overall benefits our everyday lifestyle and also helps in achieving the main focus of our goals and career.

3. Improves emotional regulation

Dopamine fasting improves emotional regulation because we tend to stay distant from social services and other toxicity which helps in attaining emotional regulation and it also helps in bringing peace again in our lives.

4. Develops great self-control and willpower

With the help of dopamine fasting, we maintain distance from the real world and social media. This helps in developing great self-control and willpower as this type of fasting is related to mindfulness-based activities.

5. Develops and improves patience

Dopamine fasting is related to mindfulness activities which helps to develop and increase and patience levels. If we practice it 4-5 hours before sleeping, it will improve our patience and as well as sleeping cycle.

6. Increases life satisfaction

When we start living with peaceful and stress-free life, it eventually increases the satisfaction towards life. Dopamine fasting basically takes us out from stress and brings back us to peace by distancing us from a toxic and stressful world.

Repairing Dopamine Receptors With Dopamine Fasting

The idea is to have fewer distractions and stress. This can only happen by minimizing distractions in our lifestyles.

For example, if you start practicing dopamine fasting for 3-4 hours a day before sleep, it can actually work in a positive way. These practices are more like mindfulness-based activities that reduce stress as well. Hence, dopamine fasting helps in refraining from unhealthy habits.

Common Questions Related to Dopamine Fasting

1. Is it Possible to Control Naturally Occurring Brain Chemicals?

During the events of pleasure, motivation, reward, and learning the dopamine does rise. But, whenever we try to avoid compulsive behaviors in order to control dopamine, it doesn’t actually lower the dopamine levels. Some people take it as a “tolerance break” by depriving themselves of pleasure, but when you consume it again, it will be more intense. Therefore, it is hard to say if dopamine fast could help control dopamine levels.

2. Does Dopamine Fasting Help Relax the Mind?

Yes, you can try dopamine fast for short durations from one hour to four hours at the end of the day to take a much-needed break to calm your mind and relax your body. As fasting is in practice for hundreds of years, dopamine fasting is another method of mindfulness practice.

But, if you completely refrain from eating for long hours, or avoid socializing, or listening to music, or engaging yourself in pleasurable tasks, it is not going to as a positive outcome. In fact, misunderstanding the concept of dopamine fasting can create maladaptive behavior which might affect your day-to-day life.

3. Does Dopamine Fasting Help Cure Technology Addiction?

Talking about the actual intention behind dopamine fasting, dopamine fasting was introduced to disconnect yourself from tech-frenzy activities so that you can spare time for yourself. The concept was to reconnect with ourselves and others, doing small important things in life, and stay happy.

While the idea is worthwhile, healthy, and noble, it is not the complete solution. At the same time, it gives you a direction to lead a stress-free life where technology isn’t following you. At least for a few hours a day!

4. Is Dopamine Fasting Going to Stay Longer?

As I said fasting isn’t a new trend, instead people are fasting for a long, the only difference is dopamine fasting is related to curbing screen-time. So, technically yes, dopamine fasting is going to stay longer. As people are more dependent on tech devices, they would definitely need a break from it at least for some time.

Related Read: The Digital Detox: Disconnect to reconnect

Being the latest solution to the problems of our current generation, dopamine fasting is a great way to curb screen time. You can practice short-duration dopamine fasting to control the use of tech devices and spend time on more important things in life.

I hope this blog helps you to understand the concept of dopamine fasting and its benefits. Comment down your queries and experiences related to dopamine fasting. For more such content, follow Calm Sage on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

Next Read:

How To Trick Your Brain To Do Hard Things

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Brain and Body

Brain Cognitive Function and Its Importance in Daily Lives

Mentally Exhausted? 8 Effective Tips To Combat Brain Exhaustion

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".


  1. sarfraz Ali
    sarfraz Ali

    Dopamine is new word for me never heard but now i get to know about it thanks for good writeup.

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