There is too much to do, besides, the last thing I need right now is to make eye contact with a woman holding a shoe.
Shit needs to get done.
Sadly, my efforts are disrupted by the continual efforts of the fairer sex to gain my attention.
“Excuse me; do you have this in an 8?”
I cast a quick glance in her general direction – almost snatching the shoe from her hand as I do so.
“Hang on, I’ll just check” are the words that spill from my lips.
“Do you have clown feet or something?” are the words that form in my mind.
I return, passing the shoe back to her with an apologetic shake of the head. I’m not really sorry of course. I’m just programmed by society to act this way.
An hour passes by in an instant. My labour only grinds to a complete stop when I notice the savagery that lies before me.
Rush hour has passed, and with it, the remnants of a war zone.
Kids, this is what happens when you don’t go to university and end up working in a female shoe department.
Ten minutes later the place was restored to its former ‘glory’.
Three hours later; I have cleaned every shelf, unboxed the delivery, tidied the stockroom, rearranged the furniture and waited hand on foot (literally) to what seemed like a screaming horde of women. I didn’t miss a beat – this shit was easy.
Yet, I was on fire!
What the hell is Modafinil?
Modafinil is a prescription drug that was initially created as a means to treat narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. Over time it has been proven to be effective in treating ADHD, Chronic fatigue syndrome and even negating the effects of cocaine withdrawal among recovering addicts.
Interestingly, Modafinil has also been used by the United States Air Force as their drug of choice to keep pilots awake and alert for significant periods of time. A study at the University of Pennsylvania found that sleep deprived subjects who were administered a typical dose improved their alertness and reaction time for 88 hours. Pilots who used caffeine only showed an improvement for up to 24 hours. Yet, in contrast to other stimulants such as caffeine and amphetamines – Modafinil has no physical side effects.
As you can imagine, not having the jitters is pretty important when in charge of a piece of equipment totalling several hundred million dollars. Other governments have also commissioned research into the benefits of Modafinil, including the British army and the Indian Air Force to name but two.
Speaking of jitters; a group of male surgeons and doctors were given Modafinil after a night of supervised sleep deprivation. Following the study carried out by Professor Barbara Sahakian; they all reported becoming more efficient, less impulsive and better with tasks requiring attention – which I would assume, should be pretty much everything they do.
A drugged up, sleep deprived medical professional… confidence personified right there.
However, in recent years this drug has built a solid reputation as the king of cognitive enhancers and has overtaken Adderall as the weapon of choice for students looking for ways to improve their learning capabilities and extend their study sessions. The theory is that up to a quarter of students at leading institutions have experimented with Modafinil and an investigation at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities seems to support this belief.
So how does it work?
Alongside the already established effects on our ability to remain awake and alert, largely through an elevation of hypothalamic histamine levels and its effect on norepinephrine, Modafinil has many other benefits including a potential 10% increase in memory retention through its influence on the neurotransmitter, glutamate.
It also blocks dopamine transporters and thus increases the amount of dopamine in the brain. If you’re wondering why this is a good thing, it’s because dopamine helps to link the task at hand to the reward (or pay off). Basically it’s responsible for our motivation levels and is the reason why we’re able to drag ourselves to work every day in the hope of receiving money at the end of the month.
What are the side effects?
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be any. Well, obviously there are the usual risks of an allergic reaction or a possible conflict with other types of medication that are prevalent with all drugs. But with regards to noticeable side effects – nothing. At least in the short term, anyway.
It’s not addictive and if one was slipped into your morning tea without you realising, you wouldn’t have any idea that you had taken anything. There doesn’t seem to be any withdrawal symptoms, even after prolonged use so what’s the catch?
As Modafinil is fairly new (as far as medications go) it’s not surprising there has been little research into the possible long term effects.
But let’s look at this logically. Continually staying up past your bedtime won’t just make your parents angry… it could permanently damage your sleep architecture.
We should also be careful using any drug which modifies the way our brain releases dopamine and serotonin. Substance abuse ruins lives and running dry of these two chemicals is one of the major factors in addiction.
Ok, Modafinil isn’t addictive in the classic sense of the term but do you really want to be playing Russian roulette with your brain?
Who knows? It could be totally safe. Or it could be slowly turning the world into an episode of The Walking Dead. Time will undoubtedly tell.
That’s if mobile phones don’t get there first.
My first experience taking Modafinil
May 2010. I forget the day – probably a Thursday.
It always seems to be a Thursday…
The scene at the beginning of the article described the first few hours after popping my first Modafinil pill.
I remember having watched the movie, Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper as a guy who took a drug called NZT-48 that allowed him to achieve incredible mental feats in learning and productivity. Obviously fictional, I wondered if something similar actually existed – a real life limitless pill…
I showed this movie to a friend of mine and he felt the same way. After some digging he discovered Modafinil and whilst not in the same league as the fictional NZT-48 – it was the closest thing to it.
He ordered a batch online and swore by the stuff. After failing three driving tests, he used Modafinil on the fourth and totally nailed it.
Was it a coincidence?
I didn’t care. As far as reviews go, that was pretty convincing. I was intrigued – I asked him to send me some and a few days later – they arrived.
I say ‘they’, it was 2 pills. But still, I felt like a kid at Christmas.
That morning I took half (100mg) and set off to work, totally unaware of how my day would turn out.
It’s hard to explain the effect it has. The internet informed me that it takes about an hour to kick in but 2 hours later I still hadn’t ‘felt’ anything. Obviously convinced that my friend was talking bollocks, I cursed the inevitable hard slog ahead and promptly forgot all about it.
It’s easy to do. For a drug that was supposed to turn me into a machine – it’s a sneaky bastard. It’s subtle, operates in the background, doing its thing with minimal fuss and fanfare. You simply forget it’s in your system. Until, that is – when you look back over your day and you realise exactly how much you have accomplished.
That first day was a weird one. For a start I was actually praised at work… that never happens. Secondly I was able to shut out the incessant daily whining of my intolerable supervisor and her minions, and lastly, I didn’t feel mentally fatigued at the end of the day.
Usually I return home and slump in my room for an hour and dream of a better life. This time I immediately made myself dinner and prepared for the gym.
I always want to hit the gym after work but usually I just can’t be bothered. Not this time. I’m motivated.
The workout was fantastic. Normally I will spend about 30 minutes hitting the weights – managing around 10-12 (so-so) sets before quitting in moderate disgust. With Modafinil in my system I stayed for almost an hour, only leaving when my muscles were begging for mercy.
I sent my friend a message;
“I feel like Bradley Cooper!”
Holy crap is that the time?
Hours turn into minutes.
With Modafinil, time distortion is perhaps the most noticeable effect. It seems like an hour has passed when in fact, you look at the clock and it’s triple that. It’s not like you switch off at all, or have no concept of time itself. It’s the tunnel vision. There is a task that you want to accomplish and barring any major distraction, you find a way to get it done.
Then there is the dramatic improvement in vision. I say dramatic – again it’s subtle, but when you notice it… wow.
Life becomes HD. Not that shitty 720 ‘HD’ they try to pass off on TV – but real 1080p ‘I can see how hairy your face really is’ High Definition.
That foggy, blurry, even hazy vision we all get late in the day when our brains have given up all hope of salvation – is eliminated. It doesn’t matter what time it is either, it’s gone. Pop a pill at 9am and by midnight your vision will still be functioning at 100%.
It’s strange, but it’s cool.
Aside from that, I barely noticed anything else with regards to physical symptoms. I went to the toilet more than usual – which seems to be a common occurrence with other Modafinil takers, but I don’t see any medical reason why this would be the case. Appetite also seems lower but I attribute this to the fact we are paying less attention to our stomachs.
Actually, I can attest to this right now. I put the kettle on roughly 45 minutes ago as I felt like having a nice cup of tea – however, I am still writing. I feel thirsty, and every 5/10 minutes or so I remember that I really want a cup of tea… but I can’t stop writing.
I feel like I should continue. It’s subtle but it’s there. They say gravity is the strongest force in existence but even the humble flea can disregard the laws of physics by jumping 30 times is own height.
That’s Modafinil in a nutshell. There is no ‘force’ keeping me motivated – it’s just there. I feel completely normal – yet something has changed inside my brain because the desire to finish this article is stronger than my desire for tea.
I’m not entirely sure it can keep me away from chocolate, but we’ll see.
My 19 hour study session
Fast forward almost 4 years and here we are. Or, there we were…? A few weeks ago my first, proper Modafinil batch arrived in the post and I was eager to test this stuff out for real.
Yes – I had 6 weeks of studying and an assignment to finish in 3 days.
What’s life without the adrenaline rush of leaving everything until the last minute?
I took 100mg (again, half) at roughly 8am and ran myself a bath. I planned out my day and what I wanted to accomplish; running it through my mind and setting arbitrary, yet attainable goals.
It was 9am.
I opened my laptop, gathered my course materials and started to read.
Just like that, it was 11am. I wasn’t entirely sure this stuff was working but I couldn’t argue with the lack of movement. I fidget at the best of times but the fact I have planted roots and barely looked away from the screen in 2 hours is testament that everything is fine and dandy.
I think it was 2pm before I had my first mini break. I went to the toilet and had a quick 5 minute check on today’s football news.
I carried on until 5pm. It was at this point that it hit me. I have just completed a full working day equivalency of studying – and more astonishingly, I wasn’t mentally fatigued. Ok, I stifled a yawn or two but that feeling soon disappears.
You know that whirring noise your laptop makes when it’s boiling hot inside? Modafinil is like the fan. It keeps everything going even when your own little hard drive is performing its ‘hamster on a wheel’ routine.
The plan was to use all 3 days to complete my assignment, but by 9pm I had already finished the course materials and completed the most difficult question.
Aside from allowing myself the obligatory toilet break and a 20 minute gap to chuck a quick pizza in the oven, I continued until almost 4am before I could feel my brain waving the white flag.
Without Modafinil, I would have given up by Noon, but it’s now 4am! Unfathomable.
I could have taken another 100mg and kept myself going until the following evening, but while I’m all for a little experimenting – I couldn’t help but worry that my brain would start oozing out of my ears.
So I went to bed… and slept like a baby.
Final thoughts and points to remember
- Those expecting a ‘high’ will be disappointed. You may not even notice anything. It seems to work better for those who lack motivation or find it difficult to concentrate for prolonged periods of time.
- You can sleep at any time with modafinil in your system; however it will just feel like you don’t want to. Your eyes may not be sleepy, but your brain will still need its 8 hours so try and keep to a normal wake/sleep cycle.
- If you have no interest in doing something, Modafinil won’t help. Think about it this way; I want to learn German, so it can help me to study for several hours longer than I would be able to manage without it. I have no desire to learn Italian, so no amount of Modafinil will keep me from losing focus and giving up. Does that make sense?
- It’s not a long term solution to a short term problem.
I am not a medical professional. I am just an idiot who writes on a blog.
Everything in this article is a combination of stuff I have found on the internet and from my own personal experience. The information contained within is for entertainment purposes only.
If you have a medical issue then you should see a doctor. If you want to purchase supplements or drugs from the internet then do so at your own risk. It’s your money and your body – nothing to do with me or anyone else.
There are a lot of stupid people in this world – their club has enough members. Go and find something else to do.
And before anyone asks; No, I will not give you any links to websites that sell such things.
Final, final thoughts
This guide is my way of sharing my experience and to hopefully provide you with enough information to give you a head start in continuing your own research, if you so desire.
At 2,600 words, it was a long one – but thanks for reading.
Phew! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put the kettle on…