I was initially a little bit worried about taking Modafinil as a smart drug; after all, it’s a Schedule IV controlled substance in the United States. The availability and usage is restricted because of concerns about potential addiction issues, but I had heard amazing things about it as relates to cognition-enhancement and treatment for narcolepsy and excessive sleepiness. I’d been having some issues with that, so I decided to give it a try.
First, I did a bit of research (always a good thing, right?) on smart drugs: Modafinil had been shown to improve brain functioning in sleep-deprived doctors. There had been some concerns that its cognition-boosting potential was a fraud and that participants in previous studies had simply overstated their gains in cognition, but other studies have shown cognitive improvements due to the drug. It’s also been shown to reduce impulse-driven (i.e. typically ‘bad’) decisions.
It also seemed to be gaining more traction in the mainstream media, such as this reference of the drug in Time Magazine. And within this description of the drug in Bulletproof, the author mentions going to lunch with four friends — a TV producer, an AI researcher, a hypnotherapist, and a published author. They all discussed Modafinil and got prescriptions for it. The TV producer ended up finishing a proposal for a new show that had been evading him for months, the author made massive progress on his new book, and the AI researcher said he was able to make connections he had never made before.
All seemed good, so I decided to give it a shot.
I took it after having breakfast each morning for about five days to start. Within two hours, I typically felt more alert and had more motivation to complete my tasks. This is important to me because I work as a freelancer from home and only periodically work with others (i.e. a co-working space), so finding motivation in down periods is crucial. I did feel more awake and driven.
There was a culture around Silicon Valley where startup executives were taking Modafinil to work 20-hour days, and from my experiences I can relate that doesn’t seem like a good plan. While you are more awake and alert, there are ‘drop’ periods where you feel a bit sluggish — maybe 7-10 hours after taking it. It doesn’t last long — in general the feeling on it is very good consistently, although not a ‘golden god’ feeling or anything — but I don’t think it would be the best play to stay up all night or anything like that.
The first week is a hard gauge, though — many drugs feel effective for the first week. I decided to evaluate it more at 30 days and 60 days. At 30 days, I still felt good. I’m not sure that my cognition was drastically improved or I was making insane new connections between elements of my work, but I definitely more fluid and motivated than I had in months. I felt like I could tackle projects I hadn’t been able to tackle before.
At 60 days, I actually did an evaluation of my finances for the past two months. It had been the best two-month span in close to 16 months. I had also added about 11 new clients, some as one-offs but some long-term, whereas before I hadn’t been motivated on the business development side of my work. I had mostly been slogging along hitting project goals. With Modafinil, it felt like I had more bursts of creative energy and connectedness. This was helping my own personal bottom line. I had been really skeptical of smart drugs going in. I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent solid because it’s all about trust-but-verify (see the next section), but it seems to work. It drives energy and performance. It’s almost like a “life hack.”
The importance of reputation with Modafinil
This is crucial. First off, there are hundreds of different websites where you can buy smart drugs in various names, types, and formats. Some of the sites are vetted, but many are snake-oil salesman-type deals. You need to make sure you’re buying smart drugs from a reputable, trusted source. There’s a reason it’s a controlled substance in the United States, for example.
There are a host of potential concerns around Modafinil, including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome — although the rate of occurrence is fairly low, it’s still a possibility. The mechanism of action for Modafinil wasn’t known in the medical community for years. Now it appears that it functions as a selective, albeit relatively weak, dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Because of the relatively long duration of research on how exactly it works in your system, there’s still a lot of interaction confusion in terms of using it with other drugs, using it if you drink (although that’s generally thought to be bad), and how it interacts with different brain systems.
In short, if you’re going to try out Modafinil, you need to do two things for sure:
- Research as much as you can
- Speak with a medical professional about the pros/cons
The Bulletproof article linked above also lists some genetic types (near the bottom) that are thought to be poor choices to take the supplement. If you’re among those types, I’d stay away.
|Seller||Name of Modafinil||Link||Cost||Rating|
|Omnit||AlphaBrain||https://www.onnit.com/alphabrain/||$34.95 for 30-count||3.5|
|PeakNootropics||Adrafinil||http://peaknootropics.com/shop/adrafinil/||$23.99 for 10 grams||3.0|
|Powder City||Adrafinil||http://www.powdercity.com/products/adrafinil-dosage-review||$22.87 for 10 grams||3.2|