This blog post addresses many of my readers’ questions and concerns about modafinil, such as: “but Dave, aren’t you all-natural?” and, “how do you know your experiments worked if you were taking drugs?”
Biohacking is about maximizing your potential, not necessarily about being the most all-natural person out there. It just happens to be that a lot of natural solutions help you reach your potential. And when I’m doing experiments, I take account for modafinil – sometimes stopping it, sometimes lowering it, to see how my other biohacks work without it.
Then there were some readers who wanted to know how much modafinil I take, and more urgently, how to get some. Before Bulletproof, I took about 300-400 mg per day. Since I’ve been on the Bulletproof® Diet, I take anywhere from 0 – 100 mg of modafinil per day, which I take in the morning or maybe at lunch. Unfortunately, you need to get it through a prescription from your doctor, and they’re not all inclined to hand those prescriptions out, even though the medication is pretty low-risk.
In this post, I also go into depth explaining what steps I take to mitigate any possible risk from modafinil (even though the chance of risk is slim to none), and I argue against the claims that it’s addictive and immoral. I know these things aren’t true, just as I know that on my own I’m good enough, and I also know that by using modafinil, I’m even better.
This recent publicity became the first time some followers realized I use smart drugs, even though I have been very public for more than a decade about my use of smart drugs to increase my health and performance, including modafinil. This post is here to answer questions that lots of people are asking about modafinil and smart drugs in general.
I’ve attempted to capture them all here; if I missed one, please comment on this post.
Q: “I thought you were all natural and I’m disappointed to hear you use cognitive enhancers.”
A: This blog – and biohacking in general – is about doing all you can safely do to achieve your biological goals. My goals are to live longer, maximize my potential, and literally radiate energy. Of course I use the smart drugs that are safe, and I believe that modafinil is one of the safe ones for a variety of reasons. If you use a healthy diet, or Tylenol, to get more done, you’re doing exactly the same thing as me using smart drugs. The only exception is that Tylenol is more dangerous than most smart drugs, believe it or not (much more toxic to your liver). Many smart drugs (not including modafinil) are neuroprotective and probably extend brain cell life.
Q: How do you know your sleep hacking experiments – and the Bulletproof® Diet actually work? You were just hopped up on drugs.
A: I went off modafinil for 3 months in the middle of my experiment to see how I did. I was fine, but modafinil is an improvement. When I started taking it, my neurological function was such that modafinil was transformative and amazing. It was a 50% boost at the higher doses prescribed. Since 2002 when I started, I’ve increased my health and cognitive function using Bulletproof® Coffee and the Bulletproof® Diet and things like Upgraded Aging Formula, which let me ramp down the dose. But most days, I take it because it gives me a 10% boost even in my already “supercharged” state. That 10% helps me be a better father, husband, and provider. It also raises my ability to meditate as measured by EEG, and it helps me to better serve others.
Modafinil helped me write The Better Baby Book and this blog, all while working full time as a successful executive and raising 2 young children. In fact, in the wake of these comments, I ran another small test. I didn’t take any modafinil. Went to sleep at 3 a.m. Woke at 4 a.m. Drove to airport. At 6:30 a.m. I flew from Victoria to Ottowa, arriving at 5:30 p.m. Business dinner until 11 p.m. Slept from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. (4 hours). Had Bulletproof Coffee. Sat in meetings for 8 hours straight, awake, with one more coffee. Hopped on a plane back to Victoria (7 hour total journey). No modafinil. I was alert and highly productive in the meetings – this is what vibrant health does for me. But on modafinil, I’d probably have been more alert and energetic. I’d have felt just like I do now – but more.
Q: What dose do you take?
A: I took 200 mg in the morning and 100-200 at lunch at first before I discovered Bulletproof® Coffee and the Bulletproof® Diet. The health increases I experienced let me ramp my dose down to 100 mg/day, sometimes 50, and sometimes none. I always perform well if I eat the right foods, avoid the toxins, and have butter, Brain Octane™ and Upgraded™ XCT oil. Provigil is an added boost, not a requirement.
Q: When do you take it?
A: Morning. Maybe at lunch. I never take it at night unless I’m driving and really tired.
Q: Where do you get modafinil?
A: Get it from your doctor with a prescription.
Readers of the blog have recommended some sites for ordering online with or without a prescription, but I have not tried them and do not endorse them specifically. Use at your own risk, and read this post.
Q: How do I get a prescription?
A: In the U.S., it is legally prescribed for “shift worker sleep disorder” and narcolepsy, and insurance will usually reimburse for it. It is also commonly prescribed for ADD and ADHD, and sometimes for MS, lupus, or chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia. Describe your symptoms to your doctor. Ask for a prescription. The links here may help you fully grasp the symptoms you need to have to qualify for a prescription. (and as a side note, when are we going to decide we don’t need $150 permission slips from our doctors to decide what substances we want to put into our own bodies? But I digress . . ..)
Q: What are the risks and side effects of modafinil?
A: Low but not non-existent. Check out my comment, and reader Elspeth’s response for more information.
Q: What do you do to mitigate the risk?
I like my brain, the risk appears low to me, however I want to give my brain additional support. Here is what I do to keep it healthy
- Upgraded Aging Formula which is very neuroprotective but has multiple other anti-aging benefits too, like blood sugar, genetic expression improvements, etc.
- Brain Octane™ and Upgraded™ XCT oil – a form of coconut oil extract with 6 times more of the active MCTs than coconut oil. (It also works for weight loss).
- Upgraded Coffee which, if brewed without a paper filter (think French Press or espresso) contains two potent anti-inflammatory brain agents, cafestol and kahweol (coffee benefits).
- Glutathione Force – a very potent, highly absorbable anti-oxidant that helps the body to remove toxins rapidly. Glutathione is required in the brain.
- Krill oil – a form of fish oil useful for the brain
- Aniracetam – another smart drug that is neuroprotective
- Runny or raw egg yolks – full of choline your brain needs.
Am I plugging my own products here? Yes. I designed these formulas specifically for my own health and brain function and had them made because I wanted the best for myself. I give them to my family. I sell them at a much lower profit than normal companies would. They are the best in the world. I have never made one cent from the sales – so far, all the income from all sales goes to pay for more research and the operation of this blog, which itself serves 100,000 people per month, for free. See other posts about brain health.
Q: I’m in college or high school. Should I take it?
A: God no! And stay away from Adderall (prescription meth) too. Good quality coffee (low toxin) is ok in the morning for most people at these ages. Your brain won’t be mature fully until 23-25 years old!
Q: Modafinil is a dangerous addictive narcotic like meth.
A: Uh, no it ‘s not. Not even in the stimulant category. It’s “arousal promoting” not stimulating. You can sleep after you take it; it’s just that you don’t want to. It is not a narcotic. It is not addictive – there is no street value for it. My wife, a Karolinska-trained physician who ran drug and alcohol addiction clinics, flat out says, “I’ve never had an addict ask me for it. It is not addictive.” I found I actually decreased my dose as my health improved.
Q: You used it to sleep only 5 hours a night.
A: No, I didn’t. I slept only 5 hours per night because I had things to do and I was experimenting on myself. I used modafinil to increase my performance during the day after less sleep, but I tested (for 3 months) not using modafinil at all. I programmed myself for more efficient sleep (see podcast with advanced brain monitoring) for more details.
Q: It’s immoral. If you use it, everyone else will have to.
A: No. Only those who want to will take it. Do you drink coffee? Do you use fire to stay warm? Do you use electric lights to out-compete people who have none? How about agriculture? Reading glasses? Technology for human performance is not new.
Q: Do you think you are not good enough without it?
This question makes me smile. I used biohacking to get the same brain state as someone who spends 20-40 years in daily zen practice. I am a certified heart math coach and can control my stress consciously, and I know Art of Living breathing and yoga. I *love* myself and know I’m “good enough.”
I also know my potential, and I believe I owe it to myself to do everything within my power to best serve others, including my family, coworkers, the team here at Bulletproof Executive, the thousands of people who have used this site to upgrade their lives, and the many more who keep coming here seeking knowledge. Modafinil helps me do that. What kind of man would I be if I didn’t live my life fully? I don’t know; that’s not who I am. So I will continue to use all methods I can find to maximize my abilities, including electronic, pharmaceutical (selected, safe ones), meditation, occasional exercise, Whole body vibration, supplements, Bulletproof Coffee, and the Bulletproof Diet.