Modafinil is not the biggest gain I have made towards peak experiences – that would be just basic exercise. It is not the biggest gain towards overall well-being, which is only a cleaner diet and very good hydration. It is not even the largest no-brainer of a nootropic, the honor of that probably goes to Piracetam.
But with that said, Modafinil is still pretty amazing stuff when it comes to working out in the gym.
In this post, I’ll cover:
- The effects and subjective experience, negative and positive, of Modafinil.
- The routine I built around taking it, through trial and error, for optimum functionality.
- Some jumping-off points for further research.
Please note that I am not a doctor or nutritionist. I have consulted with some, and am an enthusiastic amateur. Your health is extremely precious and you need to get informed personally through thorough research, and it is absolutely worth spending a small amount of cash to consult with trained professionals if you are changing your wellbeing and medical routines.
Okay, so what is the world like on modafinil? There seems to be a whole lot of curiosity around it. Having been taking it on and off for a few months now and tracking my performance both objective and subjective, here is one take.
We’ll start with the downsides.
But first, if you wish to learn more about what Modafinil is, then I strongly suggest you go read THIS ARTICLE.
Negative Effects of Modafinil
Downside #1: My kinesthetic sense is sharper
This actually is not a good thing, in my book. I’ve got many different nagging sports injuries, some latent harm from a motorcycle crash in Cambodia, etc. I’m more in touch with my body and my senses are sharper on modafinil, but that really brings some otherwise acclimated latent pain to the surface. It can be distracting as I believe some of the old damage in my ribs, previously broken hands, etc. The advantages of a larger kinesthetic sense are relatively small with what I do, feeling older accidents more acutely can be distracting.
More on how I deal with this in a moment.
Downside #2: Same with eyesight, though this one is more of a mixed blessing
I pick up colors, patterns, backgrounds, and details to a greater extent. I detect buildings on the horizon and more of the surroundings. It’s not such a problem in the Chaoyang District of Beijing, but I think it’d be bothersome in Tokyo or Las Vegas.
Downside #3: I lose track of time
It’s excellent for focusing, putting your head down, and getting a lot of things done. But I really lose track of time and need to set alarms. I’ll look around and it will be 5 AM, and 8 PM was not that long ago. Stupid standard things, like sitting at a cafe two hours before an appointment next door. Normally no problem, on modafinil I want to set alarms things like that. I won’t take modafinil on a day stacked with an assortment of things that need to occur at specific times unless somebody else is managing my schedule.
Downside #4: Fluency of thought increases, but can easily go all over the place
I don’t like to be on modafinil with five items on my mind. One or two, great. This necessitates a strict schedule… if there are five things and I am task switching between them, then it is very easy to fall into an intensely concentrated bout of uselessness. If I’m exploring quotes for writing, I could end up reading about Shakespeare or any military conflict for a few hours. Breaks are dangerous too – when I was acclimating used to modafinil, I definitely burned some 10-hour stretches simply playing online Chess, which would never happen not on the stuff.
Downside #5: I don’t want to consume anything
Normally after lifting weights, I’ll eat a salad with chicken or tuna, and then a few more plates of chicken. On modafinil, I will feel complete 3/4 of the way through the salad and have to force-eat more to find some sustainable amount of calories. Snacking on nuts slowly can help with this, but it’s actually a real problem since I almost always find myself working out on days I take modafinil (more on this in a minute).
Downside #6: I have sometimes gotten mild headaches on the stuff
This may be due to unrelated things though – such as forgetting to eat, drink water, etc. I’m unsure – I now carefully manage when I take modafinil and the routine around taking it and don’t get headaches anymore.
Downside #7: Long half-life and can’t-sleep-on-it require some planning.
Sometimes I’ll be planning on doing a work stretch on modafinil, but it’ll hit early day and I hadn’t taken it yet. Then I’m in a bit of a bind. If I take it, I won’t be sleeping well until 7 AM to 10 AM the following day, and I will probably wake up between 11 AM to 2 PM pretty alert with it in my system. This might sound good, but it’s not – you have to actually plan around taking the stuff. I’d really like it if it had a 4-6 hour half-life.
I like to start with the downsides of something for perspective – the majority of articles like to start with the “wonder and amazement” facets, which leaves out some important information. I experience greatly heightened senses on modafinil, though that is not necessarily a plus (bright/neon lights could be distracting, I feel pain from old injuries). It is powerful stuff that lasts quite a long time, so needs to be seriously intended around. It’s possible to neglect eating and hydration on the stuff, which is also bad. I had headaches on it occasionally before experimentation and building a regular around it.
Another Interesting Read:
Positive Effects of Modafinil
It’s just gone. You don’t need to sleep on the stuff.
Upside #1: You don’t need to catch up on sleep
If you’re sleep-deprived, you return to “normal and pretty good” fast, though I think that’s a small dangerous game so I don’t play it. Rather, I try to take modafinil when I am on a reasonable amount of sleep, which leads to a prolonged and stable much-increased evaluation of energy and alertness.
The mechanism of action for modafinil is not fully understood (which is always troubling to me when I’m researching something; once I did lots of research on this one, I decided to go for it anyway). It is a nootropic, rather than amphetamine or standard stimulant. The current state of science is that it’s not fully understood how it works.
Upside #2: Instant Alertness
But tiredness is gone. For me personally, it brings a sharp and clear comprehension, much like a non-caffeine user using a large coffee, except the result is larger and there’s no jitteriness or agitation.
It’s particularly helpful when I’m trying to do something that is somewhat dull but could use a dose of superior creativity, like writing sales materials for a traditional industry where it’s hard to get a great copy and very good points. I especially like to do branding, positioning, and putting the finishing touches on products and services on modafinil. Integrating creativity into logical thinking (which has some opposition naturally) will be simpler. So is synthesizing new information, like when I am reading Ogilvy On Advertising and trying to implement some ideas from that.
Oh, modafinil also gets me hyped and feeling positive on days that I plan on working out.
Upside #3: Improved connections with people
I write much better cold emails on modafinil to meet people. I seem to put a better sense of connecting with people, their interests, and accomplishing goals together at the same time. The response rate is a lot higher although I can dash it off quite fast without assembling the email at all.
I can too easily focus on a single call or activity and deconstruct and think it through for what seems like a short time but is really very long.
I find it is not so great for solo research, but can be good for researching with someone else that “brings things back around and keeps them on track”.
Upside #4: Increased productivity and less procrastination
I am far less likely to “put stuff off” or “program it” on modafinil – it’s like, “Why are we not doing it right now?” Though I try to leave very rote, repeatable tasks that don’t require creativity for other days because I do not take the stuff daily.
I work much faster – this guide is already at 1500 words. The article has been on my mind for a week—outlined it in 20 minutes, and I’m now 30 minutes into writing it. I do not normally write that quickly, not at all.
You know, the sort where you know you know the answer, and it’s right there in your face, but you can not really get it? Lately, rather than beating my head against the wall, I take some final notes on problems like this and leave them for when I take modafinil.
In the gym, while working out, I do find that modafinil keeps me more focused on my exercises. I feel more at one with my body. Especially when I’m trying to hit some serious reps and get those muscles burning.
Upside #5: Boost of positive energy
I’ve got more energy in general, and a general better sense of well-being. I am more optimistic about it by a little bit. Surprisingly, I look less impatient (there’s a light fleeting sense of, “I shouldn’t be wasting this time…” if I am in high-creative mode on modafinil and doing something rote, but not much aggravation or unhappiness with it).
However, as a caveat, I have had bad experiences when taking modafinil in a, particularly bad mood. If I was ruminating and with a particularly bad day, taking modafinil made me get deeper into the rut and accomplish nothing. Eventually, on those days I’d wind up doing the 10-hours-of-online-chess issue to just block the ruminating. So it’s not a cure-all, it is a good boost for moods ranging from “slightly below average” up to “excellent,” but not a good solution for especially bad days.
Like I mentioned earlier, modafinil does get me excited for working out. I mean, if you hit the gym often, you know what I mean. There are days when I just don’t have the mood to lift weights. But pop a modafinil pill first thing in the morning, and I’m rearing to go!
My Routine Modafinil For Effectiveness
I’d hit-or-miss adventures with modafinil until I constructed a regular around it. To begin with, my routine.
My normal routine includes a diet heavy in protein, moderate in fat, and almost no carbohydrates. In the morning, I take 1600mg of Piracetam along with Vitamin C, fish oil, calcium, collagen, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid. In the wintertime or if not getting much sun, I include Vitamin D.
I also have a way lot of caffeine, I’ve been scaling back from 6-7 coffees/teas per day to 3-5. I’m contented with the majority of those lifestyle choices, except the caffeine which is a just simple addiction that I haven’t been willing to go through the withdrawal effects to break yet. I’ll usually do this if I am sleep deprived and need to sleep 10+ hours to recover, but I never take melatonin around the very same timeframes I am taking modafinil – if endurance construction or dependency effects are coming on, I want to know it and not accidentally have it covered up.
Hitting the Gym
I lift weights 2-4 times per week and typically go for a 2-4 hour walk once or twice weekly, along with a fantastic amount of walking blended into my lifestyle.
Warning: Speculation follows. Check with doctors, nutritionists, do your own research. This is my speculating based on my experience, with a sample size of one.
Out of everything I take to supplement, Vitamin C, fish oil, calcium, and collagen are pretty standard supplements for healthy people. I doubt Vitamin C, calcium, or collagen has a lot of an interaction with modafinil. Fish oil might have some impact and relevance to the discussion since it will promote good moods and reduce inflammation, both of which are relevant. I take hyaluronic acid and glucosamine for some soft tissue damage I had, which definitely helped recovery and healing, and appears to have minimal impact on the mental state.
Taking Modafinil with Piracetam
Piracetam probably has the biggest interaction with Modafinil. It is another nootropic, which has some qualities of a stimulant and generally appears to improve my working memory, capacity for thought, and difficulty. Piracetam was first synthesized in 1964 and there were people on the constant use of it since then, and it seems to be rather safe. I suspect that modafinil has higher effectiveness and faster effectiveness when combined with Piracetam.
I also consume a substantial quantity of caffeine, but I do not have a baseline before and after – I have been taking caffeine the entire time that I take modafinil, so I can not comment. There might be some type of interaction there, or may not.
So, my initial experiences with modafinil were mixed. Some wonderful ones, some bad ones.
I eat some mild protein, usually a few eggs or a pack of nuts. With modafinil still in my system, I head to the gym to start working out for an hour or two. I will not take modafinil anymore without doing extreme physical exercise.
That’s the most important thing for consistent good feelings and production on modafinil — the post-workout hormones with dopamine, etc, seem to dull the pain from injuries and potential headache, make me relax a bit more (which helps me knock off the task-switching that can ruin productivity).
Pre-organized Work Loads
I try to get a couple of problems I’d like to work out on already laid out so that I can just dive in. It’s best if they are organized in this way that there is no desire to change between them. As an example, perhaps I have three pieces of writing I’d love to do – I’ll only work on one of them, in that situation. Having problems that are associated (a sales campaign and a marketing campaign that have lots of feedback between them) is particularly problematic since I’ll get ideas for both of them that are worth capturing, but it’ll take me out of the extreme flow.
I try not to have any appointments scheduled.
After the gym, I eat the salad and drink a huge pitcher of ice water. Probably 30 minutes after that, I force myself to eat another plate of chicken or a pack of nuts (I don’t need to) and order a coffee. While I’m eating, I am quite open to doing random things. I’ll skim my list of projects and campaigns, go through my email, listen to audiobooks or music, read a little, or whatever. Right after the gym, I’m kind of in a blissful mood and not quite ready to put down my head, so I just enjoy it and take in some great inputs.
Approximately 30 minutes after working out (3-4 hours after taking morning supplements, 1.5-3.5 hours after taking modafinil) I hit the maximum portion of my creative stride. I try to be solo at this time and work on hard problems I couldn’t normally solve. It’s a terrific time for writing, particularly, and all sorts of other abstract problem-solving.
This time I will operate for a couple of hours, and around hours 5-8, I like to start working on something collaborative with someone. Early in the supplement/modafinil/gym/food cycle, thoughts and production come too fast and I want to just channel it and stay in a flow state. It’s good for collaborating.
Recommended Resources for Further Reading About Modafinil
Gwern’s article on Modafinil offers a very scientific breakdown of the smart drug.
Dave Asprey in Bulletproof Exec is a big fan, as described in, “Modafinil: The Rise of Smart Drugs“. I wouldn’t say the edge from it is quite that big as Asprey describes it, but yes, it’s definitely possible to do things creatively while using Modafinil.
Daniel Tenner’s “Modafinil and Startups” is insightful. He turned to Modafinil to combat sleep deprivation. The Hacker News discussion on Tenner’s piece is good too.
“My Experiment with Smart Drugs” by Johann Hari, published in HuffPost is also a very insightful take on his experience with Modafinil.
Just a Few of Modafinil Recommendations to Wrap Things Up
The recommendations are have are purely based on my own personal experience taking the smart drug, Modafinil. So please don’t take this as any kind of professional, medical, or healthcare advice.
- Research is Important. Find out as much as you can about any medicinal products that you are about to embark on. Familiarize yourself with doses, tolerance-building, withdrawal effects, contraindication, and medicinal interactions/reactions.
- Reviews are Gold. Speak to others or read personal accounts of people who have already gone down the Modafinil path. There are plenty of online forums and social media platforms where people share their Modafinil stories. Listen to what real people are saying rather than what the marketers are telling you.
- Trust the Professionals. Get constructive advice from a reliable health professional who shares a similar philosophy to you and understands your objectives. The right professional can do wonders for helping you make sound decisions and avoid bad ones. And even when it comes to working out on modafinil. It may work great for me, but your health advisor may suggest an alternative for you.
- Piracetam over Modafinil. As a starting point, I would personally recommend taking Piracetam before trying Modafinil. It is not as powerful as Modafinil but it does have a lower half-life and seems to bring fewer side effects.
Other User Experiences: