Best Nootropics For Motivation: Our Top List

May 19, 2020 6 min read

Motivation is the driving force of our behavior and actions. It leads us to make changes in our lives even if those changes can cause some unpleasant feelings at first. You follow your goals, and you strive for change so hard it is not difficult for you to stay focused and energized for as long as necessary. You don’t go into self-loathing. Instead, you go and take actions that’ll get you to the desired results. 

However, there are times when the same goals that have been motivating us for a long time, no longer push us forward in the same way. And at that moment, we search for all different options to get our motivation back. We can try restructuring our goals, changing the working environment, taking some time off, etc. While the lack of motivation often really is just situational or feelings-based, the problem can also lie in the neurotransmitters in the brain.

That’s why we created a list of top 4 nootropics that affect the neurotransmitters and improve our motivation.

Nootropics For Motivation

Motivation is a complicated thing. When we feel sufficiently motivated, we are often more focused, have a larger attention span, and feel energized. Sometimes we burst from the excitement to achieve what we set ourselves to achieve. 

Consequently, our productivity increases, and our performance improves. However, you cannot precisely tell what comes first - in most cases it’s a correlational relation. In other words, being highly motivated brings up also your energy levels and sharpens your focus to finish the tasks. 

On the other end, when we feel like changing something but can’t get ourselves to do it - that’s where nootropics can help. 

Motivation is a process regulated in the brain, while neurotransmitters play a crucial role here. One neurotransmitter that’s specially evolved in the motivational process is dopamine. [1

Dopamine encourages us to step forward, whether to achieve something great or to avoid the possible pain. Another neurotransmitter, serotonin, often works in interaction with dopamine and inhibits impulsive behavior that higher levels of dopamine could enhance. In other words, serotonin helps us to be more concentrated and focused and not get lost in too much excitement or, in some cases, even feelings of euphoria.

To be motivated, it’s essential to mention the different pathways that dopamine takes and how they influence our motivation and well-being. 

There are four main dopamine pathways - mesolimbic, mesocortical, nigrostriatal, and tuberoinfundibular pathways. [2

When we are talking about motivation or attention, we most commonly mention the mesolimbic path, also known as the most crucial reward pathway in our brain. The common misconceptions about dopamine include the one that equates dopamine with pleasure. It is not pleasure; it’s wanting that reward. And with too much dopamine, serotonin can come into play and help us get more focused and crave less for the reward.

In conclusion, neurotransmitters never play alone; they work in synergy. The right balance of neurotransmitters is essential for optimal brain performance. Nootropics, for example, support the optimal levels of some neurotransmitters, which leads to improved cognition or mood.

Top 4 Nootropics For Motivation

When it comes to nootropics, some single nootropics can help you out without having harmful effects on your health as some stimulants or drugs can. 

However, because of the complexity of motivation and its relation to other processes, such as focus, attention, concentration, and energy, it’s sometimes better to reach for nootropic stacks - a mix of certain single nootropics created for even more significant effects and the larger boost in the desired areas of your performance. 

Below you can check the list of top 4 nootropics that can help you with the lack of motivation and provide the additional boost you need to perform better.


L-Theanine is an amino acid and one of the main active ingredients of green tea, alongside caffeine. It is most known for its relaxation properties, which helps us concentrate and handle stressful situations better. So what does that mean for motivational processes? 

Firstly, L-Theanine boosts levels of neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. Those chemicals in the brain are essential for regulating our mood, concentration, alertness, energy, and other cognitive abilities. It decreases the feelings of mental stress and fatigue, which are crucial for being motivated and ready to work. [3

Secondly, L-Theanine is also one of the few nootropics that stimulate brain waves, specifically alpha brain waves associated with the feeling of relaxation and calmness. That is why L-Theanine helps you get in the flow, promotes creativity and feelings of tranquility. This kind of alert relaxation can clear your way to be more focused and think more effectively. [4]

Thirdly, L-Theanine is often mentioned in combination with caffeine. The two work complementary since caffeine makes you energized and can boost your motivation, L-Theanine alleviates its side effects, such as jittery feelings or a bit anxious/nervous thoughts. L-Theanine sustains the energy and provides a smooth focus and attention.

L-Theanine also improves the quality of your sleep. We all know how damaging an inadequate sleep is for our motivation the next day. If you don’t sleep enough or well, you’ll end up feeling drowsy and sleepy, and no matter what kind of vision you have of your goals, your motivation to go for them will suffer. 

It’s best to take L-Theanine in a supplemental form or by drinking green tea. That way, L-Theanine easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and reaches your brain for ultimate effects on our cognition. 

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea, as a herb with anti-fatigue and adaptogenic properties, helps combat stress, mental fatigue, and anxiety, which in turn helps us to get up and start doing things. 

Research shows that Rhodiola reduces fatigue and improves burnout symptoms that are caused by stress. Since it regulates cortisol, it helps our body to adapt to feelings of stress and can improve our motivation. The more stressed out or mentally exhausted we are, the lower is our motivation to do anything. 

By decreasing fatigue and feelings of stress, it boosts cognitive functions, such as memory, motivation, and mental clarity. [5

Rhodiola also increases the serotonin levels, which, in turn, improves our mood and subjective well-being & decreases the symptoms of anxiety or depression. [6

Rhodiola Rosea is, compared to other nootropics, a herb that takes longer to provide some benefits. The first effects should show after a few days. However, it can take up to a month to start noticing more significant effects. 

B Vitamins

A group of B-vitamins consists of eight vitamins that have an essential role in our cellular and brain functioning. Research mostly focuses on three of them - B9, B12, and B6. Those vitamins are crucial for optimal physiological and neurological functioning. [7

Since B-vitamins are also an important part of energy production and the production of dopamine & serotonin, deficiency in those vitamins can be the main problem for your lack of motivation and energy. 

Vitamin B6 is one of the most important from the group for the metabolism of neurotransmitters. It is responsible for the conversion of L-Dopa to Dopamine, 5-HTP to Serotonin and Tryptophan to Serotonin. [8]

Deficiency in vitamin B12 can show through weakness, tiredness, depressive symptoms, or behavioral changes, and it’s becoming quite common now. If you suffer from a lack of motivation, feelings of fatigue, and you’re always in a bad mood, you should check out your levels of vitamin B12. It has a vital role in metabolizing serotonin, which is, as mentioned before, responsible for regulating mood. [9]


Citicoline has been used for its cognition-boosting properties for a long time. It is most known for enhancing memory and speeding up the learning process while also promoting the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter important for motivation and attention.

Research shows that citicoline also serves as a great mood-enhancing supplement. Besides increasing the release of dopamine, it increases the production of acetylcholine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, also crucial for mood regulation. [10

With supplementing citicoline, you can expect a boost of motivation and energy & a better mood.  

Our Recommendation

 As mentioned, single nootropics can be useful, but sometimes a better, safer, and more convenient way is to go for nootropic stacks that provide the exact desired effects on your performance and where the interactions between each of the single nootropics are well-researched. 

Our STAQ Performer was created to boost your focus and energy, which will make you even more motivated to finish the tasks. 

Maya Andoljsek

Head Of Nutrition At STAQ Performance

Maja Andoljsek, BSc in Sports Science and Nutrition, has been researching nutrition, supplements, and coaching people for years. As a certified coach and nutritionist, she has helped hundreds of people improve their cognitive performance, physical performance, and overall health.


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