The release of the 2011 movie, Limitless, sent shockwaves down the spine of the smart-drug industry, as the interest of people in brain-unlocking drugs suddenly skyrocketed.
But does the NZT-48 limitless pill really exist? Well… no. But we’ve got the next best thing -- modafinil. Here’s everything you need to know about this smart drug and why it's so damn cool.
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What Exactly is Modafinil?
Most people refer to modafinil as a nootropic, but in strict technical terms, it’s not. Sounds crazy? Here me out.
Modafinil is actually a prescription drug created originally for treating narcolepsy and other sleep-related disorders. It’s in a class of drug known as eugeroic -- meaning “wakefulness promoting drugs.”
Okay, so why all this rave about a drug that helps you stay awake? Doesn’t coffee do exactly the same?
Well, that just the thing -- modafinil, unlike coffee, doesn’t only keep you from sleeping, it dramatically kicks your brain into overdrive through a series of biochemical processes. This boosts your cognitive functions, concentration and focus in the process.
In short, it makes you smarter… for a while.
It is believed that the effect of modafinil stems from the fact that it just about increases adrenaline and dopamine neurotransmission enough for cognitive enhancement to kick in, without creating euphoria or addiction.
Sounds cool, right? It really is! Let’s take a closer look at how modafinil can make your life a whole lot better.
Benefits Of Modafinil
Although it may sound overly dramatic to say modafinil can change your life, trust me, it’s no exaggeration.
Don’t take my word for it, though, check out the video below, where Dave Asprey, celebrity author, and entrepreneur, shares how modafinil changed his life.
Okay, here are a few specific benefits of modafinil
1. It Improves focus and concentration
If there’s one thing ultra-productive people, agree on, it’s the fact that focus is critically important for productivity. And guess what… modafinil can help you achieve just that.
According to a 2015 review which examined the effect of modafinil on “cognitive neuroenhancement in healthy non-sleep-deprived subjects,” it was concluded that modafinil does “engender enhancement of attention, executive functions, and learning.”In simple terms, it helps you concentrate and learn better.
So, whether you’re a student trying to study for an upcoming exam or you’re a writer looking to crank out more words in shorter spells of time, modafinil can give you all the focus you need.
2. It boosts cognitive abilities
There’s a good reason why modafinil is called a smart drug -- it can actually make you smarter. Research has shown that the specific set of neurochemical processes modafinil promotes play a role in boosting cognitive abilities.
Now, don’t get me wrong -- modafinil isn’t going to turn you into a super genius or anything, but it will make your brain “clearer” and more efficient.
3. It negates the effects of sleep deprivation
If you’re trying to pull an all-nighter without being totally wrecked the following day, modafinil might just be your best bet. In fact, the ability of modafinil to reduce fatigue and boost mental performance is the major reason why doctors prescribe it to patients.
What’s more? It’s backed by science!
In a study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design, researchers revealed that “modafinil restores performance and alertness to non-sleep deprived levels” in sleep-deprived individuals.
4. It supports weight loss
One of the so-called “side-effects” of modafinil is that it lowers appetite. And for most people, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Reducing how much food you eat is like the holy grail of weight loss. So, if you’re looking to shed a few pounds, but find it difficult to eat less, modafinil might just be your new best friend.
Okay, so far so good. But are there any drawbacks of taking modafinil? Let’s take a look
Side Effects of Modafinil
One of the perks of modafinil is that, in reality, it comes with no serious side effects. It is not addictive and is considered to a large extent a safe drug that can be used sustainably in the long-term.
Okay, that said, there are a handful of potential side effects to keep in mind:
- Sleeping difficulty
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS)
That last one is a bit of a unicorn... very rare indeed. It is a severe skin reaction that shows on the body as a rash.
Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at how best to use modafinil.
How to Make the Most of Modafinil
1. Get a good night’s sleep:
Okay, listen up -- modafinil is not a replacement for sleep! Yes, it helps to delay the onset of tiredness and helps to boost brain functioning, but it doesn’t have the same effect as a night of deep recuperative sleep.
Your body is no machine. So, as long as you’re still human, your body will always need sleep. If you don’t give your body what it needs, you’ll shut down eventually and modafinil won’t be able to help you out.
So, target about 6-8 hours of sleep each night and allow your brain to naturally revert back to its optimal condition. Then take modafinil 30-45 minutes before you commence work and you’ll have the most productive day of your life.
Oh and one more thing -- after a whole day of modafinil-powered raging efficiency… sleep well! This will allow your body and mind to swiftly recover from the background stress it underwent while you were having a great time.
2. Eat Healthy
Okay, here’s the deal -- when you’re on modafinil, you need to pay extra attention to eating. As earlier stated, modafinil reduces your appetite. And although this may be a great thing in the short-term, it’s not always sustainable in the long-term.
So, start your day with a healthy breakfast -- preferably a well-balanced clean diet. Do the same at dinner time. If you’ll be leaving your house for work, it may also help to pack some healthy snacks along. But whatever you do, don’t starve yourself.
3. Get rid of distractions:
There’s a good reason why every smartphone has airplane mode -- and it isn’t just for when you’re on an airplane. If you want to get the most out of modafinil, you need to get rid of distractions.
Modafinil heightens your focus. That means you can more easily concentrate on tasks that naturally don’t catch your attention. But if you allow social media and emails to interrupt your work or study, while on modafinil, you’ll suddenly find yourself focusing on these for hours, instead of the actual work you wanted to do.
So, to ensure maximum efficiency, get rid of any task that may distract you. But if you must attend to them periodically, then allow a time limit and set an alarm to keep you on track.
Safety Precautions When Taking Modafinil
Broadly speaking, modafinil is safe to use. However, there are a few things to take note of before swallowing your first pill.
1. Drink Lots of Water:
When your mind and body are working at a high level of efficiency for hours, it does demand some juice. The body uses water to filter some of the modafinil metabolites out of your body.
So, when you’re on modafinil, make sure you drink lots of water -- whether or not you feel like it. It helps to keep a bottle of water somewhere visible. It also helps to set periodic reminders to ensure you regularly drink water.
2. Don’t combine other medications with modafinil
It is in the nature of man to experiment… but experiments can sometimes go horribly wrong. So, please, stick to what you know.
Modafinil is a very powerful medication, so it is highly inadvisable to combine it with other stimulants like Adderall, caffeine or alcohol. This can cause overstimulation and anxiety.
Got it? Great! Now, let’s address some common questions people have about modafinil
Is it safe to take modafinil daily?
Okay, when it comes to prescription drugs, you need to check with your doctor before swallowing a single tablet. That said, it should be safe to take modafinil daily, provided you stick to the right dosage.
And that brings us to the next question: how much modafinil should you use per day? Well, there is no right or wrong dosage, it all depends.
However, it is advisable that you start with lower doses (say 100 mg) and monitor how your body responds. If it all looks good, you can then kick things up a notch by taking 150-200 mg per day.
Most users report beneficial effects at 200 mg, so it might be a good mark to hit. In any case, most drug companies produce modafinil in a standard dose of 200 mg. So, with one tablet per day, you should be all good.
However, if you have a very small body size, you may be better off with 100 mg or half a tablet per day.
Is Adderall the same as modafinil?
If you’ve been in the smart drug community for a while, then you’ve probably heard of Adderall. And just like modafinil, it’s a prescription drug used to treat sleep-related problems.
Both Adderall and modafinil are amphetamine-based drugs that interact with brain chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine and can alter the mood of the user.
So, are they the same? Well… not quite.
Due to its mode of activity, Adderall has high addiction potential. So, if you grow used to it, letting it go might become a tug of war. This is why most doctors prescribe modafinil as an alternative to Adderall since modafinil is mostly non-addictive.
Is Modafinil legal?
Well… it depends.
In some countries (like India), modafinil is an over-the-counter medicine, which means anyone can get it at any time for any reason. So, yes, in this case, it’s legal.
However, in the United States, modafinil is a prescription drug, this means you can’t get it “legally” unless it’s prescribed by your doctor.
That said, modafinil is not in the same league with class A drugs like marihuana and cocaine. So, if you’re “caught” with a few pills in your pocket at the airport, there’s no need to panic… you won’t be arrested or prosecuted.
That said, prescription drugs can be pretty difficult to lay your hands on. This brings us to our next question -- how to get modafinil.
How and Where Do I Buy Modafinil?
There are several online pharmacies that sell modafinil. However, you need to be extra careful before placing an order on any website because some are pure scams.
That said, Afinil Express seems to have some good reviews, so it might be a good option to consider.
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The Bottom Line
As far as smart drugs go, modafinil is one of the best… if not the best. It boasts a lot of cognitive benefits and little to no serious side effects.
Remember to eat well, drink well and sleep well when using modafinil. It also helps to have your day clearly mapped out before you start it. This will help you to properly invest your new found focus to check tasks off your list at a rapid pace.
Still skeptical about this whole modafinil stuff? Well, you shouldn’t be because you haven’t got much to lose. And remember, nothing is going to happen unless you make it happen. So, ditch the skepticism and order your first pack of modafinil… the results will amaze you.
Richard is a writer with a unique passion for health and fitness. His work has appeared on Lifehack, Livestrong, Thrive Global and other popular publications. When he’s not writing, he works out, plays the Piano and has fun by all means necessary.