I’ve always been into vitamins. If I heard that it could make me stronger or faster, I was all about it.
I’m still all about some supplements.
But as I got older my priority moved from being strong to being smart. Back in the day the smart supplement was Ginko Biloba. I’ve probably had 30 lbs. of that stuff.
Not sure if it helped or not. Back then we didn’t really measure such things, or talk about causation and correlation. Placebo was our best evidence. Anyway.
Over the last several years some actual brain drugs have come out, and they’re a whole lot better than Ginko Biloba.
- Acetyl L-Carnitine
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom
- Bacopa Monnieri
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine
- Rhodiola Rosea
I’ve tried probably 10 of these (there are way more out there than I’ve listed or tried) over the last three years, with varying levels of success, and here’s what I’ve learned:
- Yes, some actually work—and really well
- The prescription stuff is powerful, and I recommend you get it legally through a doctor
- Even the lighter, non-prescription options are somewhat effective
- They affect people very differently
- They all mess with your sleep
Seriously talk to a doctor before you listen to anything I say here.
So here are my thoughts, after trying many of these over a long period.
Don’t use nootropics for more than 1-2 days at a time, with many days, weeks, or even months in-between.
I’m not talking about the prescription stuff with the lucid dreaming, but things like Alpha Brain.
The reason for this is that they make your brain active (I’m looking at you Alpha Brain), and they’ll give you lucid dreams. So you’ll spend a lot of time between being awake and being asleep.
It’s kind of fun at first, but after a while it gets annoying.
And even worse, after a few days, you will actually start feeling less sharp because… (drumroll sound)
You get dumber when you’re low on sleep.
This actually happens very quickly.
So nootropics can spike your mental performance for a day or two, if you’re getting good sleep, but if you keep taking them you’ll stop sleeping well and the net effect will be negative.
In short, sleep matters more than nootropics. Way more. So if you’re well rested, have had plenty of exercise, have had a healthy diet, and you take a safe nootropic that your (good) doctor is ok with, it is probably going to be amazing! Like some true Limitless stuff.
But don’t do it too often.
If you do, you’ll very quickly get to a place way worse than taking nothing.
Sleep, diet, and exercise are the sustainable version of what nootropics give you, and you should boost that combination very infrequently.
That’s my non-professional, non-expert summary.
- Yes, they work, but only infrequently, and on top of good sleep, diet, and exercise.
- When done properly, they’re pretty unbelievable.
- Make sure you get the right stuff, and involve a doctor for any prescription options.
- Sleep is everything. The moment you notice them messing with your sleep, it’s time to take a long rest from them.