When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”
When Rumi wrote this celebrated poem, he knew that something quite significant was happening and now in the 21st Century, science is answering just how this may be happening.
With Valentine’s Day near, it’s a time when lovers acknowledge and profess their love for one another. So what is this magical feeling called love and where might it actually come from? Let’s take a look at what our brains are doing during this exquisite time.
There are three main neurotransmitters very active during the falling in love phase and it is estimated their longevity for that loving feeling is about one to three years. Deep within the center part of our brain, sits the generator of romance. This area is about 65millions years old (reptilian brain) and where arousal, pleasure, motivation are activated as well as our flight, fight, freeze activation occur. Close to this region lies the mother lode center of dopamine. Dopamine is this powerful stimulant that causes us to focus on our lover as if no one else existed. Dopamine also is the chemical that produces the addictive quality we get with our lover.
Norepinephrine and serotonin are the other neurotransmitters active during the love mood. Increased levels of Norepinephrine create the sleepless nights Rumi praises the Gods for and it also increases our energy, puts that skip in our step, and makes the sky seem bluer. Inversely, serotonin levels are decreased which produces the obsessive thinking of our beloved. That’s why drugs like Prozac are used in medicine for a variety of mental health illnesses (but by the way, placebo does better in studies than those drugs!)
Although biology has its role in romance, we will all know something more mysterious is often at work. Science may explain some of the details, but the bottom line is we all have a craving and need to be loved and to love. So on this Valentine’s Day spread the love!