Study, Work, Exercise, Eat or Stare at a Wall! (Nightmare Mode Article #1)

3 min readApr 30, 2022

What is Nightmare Mode and Why I’m Doing It

Have you ever wondered why you’re able to play video games or watch Netflix for 12 hours straight, but can’t muster up the willpower to study how to code for an hour? I’ll talk to you about why that is, and how you can get the hard things done by being on something called Nightmare Mode.

We generally consider an activity ‘hard’ when it’s either physically taxing or only releases small amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical released into the brain that makes us feel pleasure. In that regard, activities such as studying may trigger low amounts of dopamine, whereas binge-watching Netflix may trigger extreme hits of dopamine. Since the brain acts like an A.I. and chases the fastest way to get a dopamine release, we default to debaucheries like Netflix, alcohol or video games despite the fact that our logical brain understands that we must get some studying done.

As long as I can remember, I believed I was weak-willed and unmotivated whenever I couldn’t sit down and focus on the hard things. I held that belief, until I came across the practice of entering “Nightmare Mode” from a YouTuber named Alex Becker. As soon as I came across this, I decided to implement it, and so far, it’s been working wonders.

I. What is Nightmare Mode?

On Nightmare Mode, I’m allowed to eat, sleep, study, exercise or take a break while staring at a wall. Just those five things. Anything else is strictly prohibited. This means the following are prohibited: YouTube, social media, lewd videos, sex, masturbation, going-out (without a purpose), going on dates, playing video games, eating sugary foods, drink sugary drinks, caffeine, drugs, alcohol, TV, or any activity that trigger unearned dopamine.

II. The theory behind Nightmare Mode

The brain has a simple design and is constantly looking to receive hits of dopamine in the fastest way possible. During Nightmare Mode, the brain will understand that it cannot get a dopamine release unless it engages in productive activities like studying, exercising or working. So, it will default to those things to feel pleasure, since the alternative is to stare at a wall and suffer in silence.

In addition, most of us have developed a tolerance for lots of dopamine entering our brain from using smartphones and social media. Thus, a smaller hit of dopamine triggered by the joys of learning can become unappealing to the brain. This is similar to how a heroin addict may need to use a lot of heroin to feel something, whereas a first-time user may only need a smaller amount of heroin to feel anything.

During Nightmare Mode, the brain goes through a detox period where it is no longer subject to extreme, unnatural, hits of dopamine. For that reason, it starts becoming more sensitive to smaller hits of dopamine triggered by doing the harder things in life, and those things become very pleasurable. Since those things beget success, that leads the brain to obsess even more towards doing those things, resulting in a positive cycle.

III. How I implement Nightmare Mode

At this time, I’m implementing Nightmare Mode to learn JavaScript more thoroughly and to grow my business.

I sometimes break, but I have been getting better at not breaking. I am currently using the cold turkey blocker app to block apps or sites I don’t want to use on Windows. I’m also locking away my phone for set time periods using a special time-based locking device.

Part of being on Nightmare Mode is to eat healthy, non-dopamine, triggering foods. My chef is under strict instructions not to serve me cheap foods, so that I can digest things better. I am also exercising regularly for peak performance.

After being on Nightmare Mode for the past four months, I concluded that I wasted at least 10 years of my life being unfocused. I wish I came across this information sooner. I’m achieving massive results, and being disciplined or studying for hours on end has become easier for me. Based on my results, I can wholeheartedly vouch for this method, and strongly recommend that you give it a try.

Questions or comments? Leave comment below. Also, my telegram is @simpsdotbiz




I apologize if my medium articles are all over the place, but I am writing more to organize my thoughts and for my own learning. Maybe one day I’ll organize it.