Modafinil (marketed under the name Provigil) is a prescription medication that has been used to enhance memory and cognitive abilities for the past 30 years.
A quick introduction to modafinil, including its scientific background
Modafinil, the generic name for R(-)2-phenyl-N-tyrosine-3,4-dihydroxybutyl-phenidate (1-(N-3-isobutyl-N-3-hydroxybutyl)phenylpropanoate), commonly known as Provigil(R-F), is a prescription medication approved by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of narcolepsy, shift work sleep-wake disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperacute Syndrome (AD/HD).
Interestingly, researchers have observed that modafinil increases levels of dopamine in the brain. This helps explain why modafinil users can experience increased alertness, cognitive performance and attention, as well as improved memory.
A common way of using modafinil is by taking it to boost your mood for a short period of time. Many people who use modafinil say that it makes them feel calm or more alert. They also believe that it gives them enhanced ability to concentrate on their work. It can also make a person more alert and more relaxed.
The drug is also used as an appetite stimulant in people suffering from anorexia. However, it has become increasingly popular due to its ability to improve alertness, cognitive performance and the ability to enhance attention.
Modafinil is the most common prescribed wake-up drug of this era, as it’s one of the few FDA-approved medications that could really enhance cognitive abilities.
It’s been successfully utilized by people suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease, when it was the only treatment that helped patients regroup following a stroke or other brain trauma.
Modafinil Side Effects and Risks
There are very few risks and side effects of using modafinil, but you may experience minor ones. The side effects are usually mild and might include diarrhea, difficulty sleeping and a headache. It’s a good idea to seek professional advice before trying out any powerful drug, of course.
Modafinil is not habit-forming and users don’t see any significant increase in tolerance to this smart drug over time. That compares favorably to most substances usually used for wakefulness – like caffeine, cocaine or other powerful stimulants.
Using modafinil as part of a nootropic stack can make your mental performance even stronger
Modafinil can be used with other smart drugs in what brain hackers refer to as a “stack.” Stacking describes using it in combination with other substances (prescription and/or nonprescription), to greater effect. For example, many users suggest that combining modafinil with l-theanine allows you to feel all the powerful cognitive benefits of modafinil with an additional sense of relaxation.
Stacking is a process of experimentation. There are dozens of smart drugs spread across several broad categories, and no two people will respond the same way to any of them. So you can imagine that trying to combine several into a new formula is only going to pan out with lots of trial and error.
How well does modafinil do by itself then?
Modafinil is about as complete a nootropic experience as you’ll find any single substance. In my experience over 4 years of almost-daily use, I can still function beautifully on just one-half of a 200mg tablet.
In fact, I will sometimes use 3/4 or even a full tablet if I have a particularly heavy day of work ahead. It gives me just a bit more of an edge for focus and energy, but I do sometimes find that extra dose makes it harder to fall asleep that night.
But the really big takeaway is that I don’t experience any withdrawal when I cycle off modafinil. My basic 100mg dose hasn’t changed at all over that 4-year period of use, either.
For me, at least, there’s no addiction or increased tolerance issues. And not a single side effect unless I boost my dose a bit for the day. In my professional work, that’s worthy of a title like Holy Grail.
Your own experience will be different. But I hope it is the beginning of a process that shows you exactly how cognitive enhancement can work.