How to activate Reticular Activating System?

Are you suffering from disturbed motor function, sleep-wake cycle, and lethargy? Looking for ways to regulate your emotions, arousal, and attention, memories, and wakefulness? Curious about the functioning of your reticular activating system? Want to know how this system controls your reflexes, regulates motor function, emotions, and sleep-wake transitions. Searching for a particular diet and lifestyle to activate your reticular activating system? If yes! Here you are in right place.

What is the Reticular Activating System?

The reticular activating system is defined as the complex bundle of nerves in the brain involves in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle and wakefulness. It filters the unnecessary noise to avoid interference with the processing of messages during sleep by altering the electrical activity of the brain. It alters the electrical voltage of brain waves as well as the speed by which nerve cells fire. It regulates the function of motor nerves as well as wakefulness, memories, and emotions by releasing some organic chemicals such as acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The organic chemical acetylcholine involves in motor function while other organic chemicals are involved in feelings and consciousness.

Composition of RAS

This system consists of various interlinked pathways in the brainstem that is located at the back of the brain. Then it continues in the center of the brain through the thalamus further on to the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is the thin layer of neural tissue that is located on the surface of the brain. The RAS also goes to the deep within the brain which includes the midbrain reticular formation, tegmentum, dorsal hypothalamus, mesencephalic nucleus, and thalamic intralaminar nucleus.

How RAS works?

  • This system gears up the higher level of activity to arise you in the morning.
  • It is like the attention center of the brain which organizes the external stimulus into your conscious thought systematically.
  • The external stimuli involve various triggers, the sounds, and the sun.
  • It produces fast-firing brain waves having low voltage to rapidly organize the signals which contribute to attentiveness and alertness. 

Ways to activate RAS

You can activate your reticular activating system in several ways:

  • Diet
  • Lifestyle
  • Meditation
  • Supplements
  • Drugs


  • The activity of RAS can be enhanced by cherry consumption.
  • Apple consumption can enhance your memory because the skins of apples have an antioxidant called quercetin which enhances your memory.
  • Intake of berries increases your focus and intention.
  • Onion consumption can also improve your focus and memory.


  • Your lifestyle also helps you to activate your RAS such as enjoying music, stimulating colors, and vagus nerve stimulation.
  • Music stimulates nerve impulses through RAS. It enhances your emotions, your feelings.
  • It is a complex stimulus that involves everything such as pitch, rhythm, melody, and volume.
  • Stimulating colors also activate your RAS such as blue light and sunlight.


  • Meditation can help in the activation of your RAS by increasing dopamine levels.
  • Dopamine is a very important hormone that is associated with arousal, reinforcement, motivation, and motor control.
  • Mindfulness meditation improves attention because it helps you to aware of what you are feeling and sensing at the moment, without any interpretation and judgment.
  • So, this practice activates your reticular activating system.


  • Various supplements help to activate your reticular activating system.
  • Sulbutiamine is consumed as a dietary supplement.
  • It is a synthetic derivative of thiamine that is used to treat symptoms of fatigue and weakness in France.
  • It is used as a stimulant in athletes.


  • Various drugs are helpful to activate your reticular activating system.
  • Modafinil is a drug that is used as a wakefulness-promoting agent.
  • It reduces the extreme sleepiness caused by narcolepsy as well as several other sleep disorders.
  • Thus, it activates your reticular activating system that promotes wakefulness and attention.

Tips to activate RAS

  • Pop a handful of berries.
  • Try to eat colorful berries such as black currants, blueberries, gooseberries, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries, and even grapes that have a significant role in activating your reticular activating system as any colorful object relax your mind and enhances attention.
  • Increase the consumption of apples and berries in your diet.
  • Enjoy the music whatever you like and that helps to increase your focus and attention.
  • Practice mindfulness mediation.
  • Reduce negative self-talk and improve your behavior.
  • Lessen worrisome thoughts and stay happy.
  • Be grateful for everything you have and think positively.
  • Use supplements such as sulbutiamine that will remove fatigue and weakness.
  • Use drugs such as Modafinil to promote wakefulness in case you are suffering from narcolepsy.


Tapia, J. A., Trejo, A., Linares, P., Alva, J. M., Kristeva, R., & Manjarrez, E. (2013). Reticular activating system of a central pattern generator: premovement electrical potentials. Physiological reports, 1(5).

Jouvet, M. (1972). The role of monoamines and acetylcholine-containing neurons in the regulation of the sleep-waking cycle. Neurophysiology and neurochemistry of sleep and wakefulness, 166-307.

Garcia-Rill, E., Virmani, T., Hyde, J. R., D’Onofrio, S., & Mahaffey, S. (2016). Arousal and the control of perception and movement. Current trends in neurology, 10, 53.

Schwartz, J. R., & Roth, T. (2008). Neurophysiology of sleep and wakefulness: basic science and clinical implications. Current Neuropharmacology, 6(4), 367-378.

Brown, R. E., Basheer, R., McKenna, J. T., Strecker, R. E., & McCarley, R. W. (2012). Control of sleep and wakefulness. Physiological reviews.

Modesto-Lowe, V., Farahmand, P., Chaplin, M., & Sarro, L. (2015). Does mindfulness meditation improve attention in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?. World journal of psychiatry, 5(4), 397.

García, M. G. (2010). Neuroanatomic bases of hypocretin actions on the ascending reticular activating system: a contribution to narcolepsy physiopathology. In Anales de la Real Academia Nacional de Medicina (Vol. 127, No. 2, pp. 327-346).

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