Modafinil Works!

It’s official. Those of us who’ve been using it didn’t need persuading, but the moaning Minnies who thought we were imagining benefit or experiencing a placebo effect can now form an orderly queue to submit their apologies.

Hard core unbelievers should check this out.  If you’re not used to ploughing through academic papers or just don’t have the Modafinil to hand, here’s the plain english version and here’s the obligatory Wiki page which, among other things, will confirm that it’s been in medical use (for treating Narcolepsy) since 1986. No directly related deaths, addictions or lingering side-effects ever since.

It’s not quite the perfect wake-up drug I’ve been searching for the past 40 years because it takes longer than I’d like to kick in. That’s about an hour and I really want something that works in seconds and doesn’t get you high. High is for playtime. I’m happy with the drugs we have for that.  When I’m working, there are times when I’m desperate for something just to clear the fog.

Others, presumably even more desperate than me, have not shied away from using the more dramatic “uppers” like Cocaine or Amphetamines in the workplace. These will certainly wake you up or keep you awake, but they can’t be said to improve or even maintain your ability to think straight. In fact I would argue that one of the most serious dangers of Cocaine, excluding overdose, is that it makes you believe you’ve taken a brain booster, when it actually impairs cognitive function and, amongst other things, promotes the kind of risk taking which has been blamed, in part, for the financial meltdown in 2008.

Had the wankers bankers been on Modafinil, I suspect that calamity may have been avoided. Unfortunately it’s difficult to set up a double-blind placebo controlled study to test that hypothesis.

I’ve been using it consistently since 2009 and I can fully endorse the findings of the current review. Took me about a year to work out how to use it optimally. Was far too enthusiastic to start with. In short, try to limit usage to one tab a day and not more than four or five days a month. Otherwise you develop a tolerance and the law of diminishing returns comes up and bites your ass.Other useful tips: take it on an empty stomach or you may not notice any significant benefit (or it’ll take a lot longer to kick in). Give it at least 15 minutes to get into the bloodstream before you pollute it with food. And, providing you’re not on other drugs, you can roughly double the effect (or halve the typical dose – to 100mg – which is what I prefer) by drinking about half a pint of grapefruit juice with it.

It keeps you awake (and lucid)

It has two major benefits. The first and most dramatic enables me to maintain concentration on a difficult or complex task for much longer than I can without its aid. I only use it intensively once a year and that’s for the week we’re producing the PFL bulletins (don’t ask). That entails a week where we get about 2-3 hours sleep a day, spend the daytime gathering news and all night creating a satirical rag loosely based on any gossip, rumour or occasional facts we’ve managed to harvest. We then speculate wildly and invent any other facts we need to fill the four pages we’re committed to publish.

That used to grow increasingly painful as the week went on, the sleep deficit builds up, the creative juices dry up and the proof-reading becomes less and less important, or even possible. One of the most horrendous nights of my life was on the last night of the annual gig. The rest of the team had passed out or gone to bed and I’m left there on my own at 5 o’clock in the morning, unable to see straight or keep my eyes open; with a blank page to fill, no material, the layout and proofing to do and a deadline in 2 hours, by which time I had to drive the copy 8 miles to the printers (this is in the days before printers routinely had email). I’ve still got no real idea how I survived that night. Sort of thing that could make you believe in Flying Spaghetti Monsters – or even see them! (Other durum deities are available)

Nowadays, we pop a pill at about 1 am and we’re totally and reliably functional right through till about 7 am when we email the copy to the printers and we’re just about comfortably numb enough to catch 90 minutes of zzzs before we’re up again to breakfast, zap over to collect the print and deliver it to the punters. We’ll take another tab to get us through till about 2ish, leave the day shift in position, head back to the Safe House, perform any running repairs, routine housework, t-shirt printing and all that shit, see if we can squeeze in another hour in the arms of Morpheus before returning to collect the day shift and beginning the evening rounds. Rinse and repeat for what used to be 5 days, (now reduced to 4)

We’re certainly still “feeling it” by the end of the week, but Modafinil removes all the stress and makes it doable. More importantly,  makes it possible for us to carry on enjoying it; which, at the end of the week, is the only reason we do it in the first place. (The punters will never figure that one out; they’ve spent nearly 40 years trying to calculate our ulterior motives. So have we.)

I think the results show in the quality of the output but others would have to judge that; though in some ways its obvious – like the dramatic reduction in speeling missteaks and other tapas.

and it helps you to sleep!

In “normal” times, I generally try to limit my use to when I really really need it. Like when I’ve not had a good night’s sleep but I still have work to do. Which brings me to the second major benefit. NOT the fact that it keep you awake in such situations but the exact opposite. It can help you sleep better! Why? Because it’s an excellent cure for “anxiety insomnia” where your despair at not being able to get to sleep feeds back on itself and keeps you awake.

That used to be a regular problem for me (approx twice weekly) but Modafinil has banished it completely. How so? Because just knowing that, even if you don’t get the sleep you need, you won’t suffer, because the Modafinil’s there if you need it, once again, completely removes the stress. So now, if I find I’m not drifting off to sleep as normal, I take it as an opportunity to try to focus on some on-going problem or project I’m working on. And, in that relaxed, semi-focussed state, I usually drift off to sleep quite naturally and, even if I don’t, I’ll have gained some useful insight into the aforementioned problem, before getting up, dropping a tab and spending most of the next day performing slightly better than normal. Hence, I average about one or two tabs a month for the rest of the year.

Unless, that is, I’m required to drive for more than a couple of hours, which is quite rare at the moment. I usually pop one at the beginning of a long drive, just to fend off those head nodding moments and keep me fully alert on the road. Incidentally, I’d feel a lot safer in a plane, knowing that the pilots had similar access to Modafinil on demand.

So, in summary, seriously good shit with no significant side effects or long term adverse consequences. Strongly recommended but use sparingly, only when you REALLY need it.

Only problem is, last time I looked (about 18 months back) it was becoming more difficult to buy and the sites selling it looking ever more dodgy. It’s supposed to be “prescription only” and the authoritarians have been clamping down on the online providers to the extent that its difficult to know which ones you can trust anymore. So if anyone knows a reliable and trustworthy “dealer”, lemme know…

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About Harry Stottle
Refugee from the Stumbleupon Blogicide of October 2011 Here you will find my "kneejerk" responses to the world and what I happen to bump into. For my more detailed considerations and proposals, please visit my website or my previous main blogging site.

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