Curious how effective Modafinil and Caffeine can be when combined together?
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 5+ years, the answer should be pretty obvious. Modafinil has been proven time and time again to be one of the world's best cognitive enhancers.
Study after study validates its safety and usefulness, and people all around the world are raving about how it completely changed their productivity for good.
On its own, it's a powerful smart drug to have regardless of what nootropic stack you're taking.
And while caffeine has been around much longer, everyone and their mama immediately reach for it when they wake up in the morning. It's the most well-known “pick-me-up” around no matter where you go, and it's ridiculously cheap.
But what happens when you combine caffeine and Modafinil together? Will your brain be able to handle the overwhelming surge in focus and energy?
Keep reading to find out…
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What is Modafinil?
Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting drug that is only available by a doctor's prescription.
It is usually given to patients who are suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue caused by a wide variety of conditions:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
But in the real world, people aren't just using Modafinil to treat their problems. Healthy, high-performance people are using it to one-up their competition.
In fact, Modafinil is so damn effective that it's been shown to help military pilots improve their cognitive functions while experiencing higher levels of alertness over a period of 40 hours .
But how does this happen? How does Modafinil affect our brain chemistry in a way that makes us more productive? We don't know the exact answer yet, but we do know it significantly alters the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and especially dopamine.
What Modafinil does is block the activity of something called the “dopamine transporter”, which breaks down dopamine. This naturally leads to a higher level of dopamine available for the brain to use.
In short, Modafinil is ridiculously potent and there's no reason to avoid using it. But how does this tie in to stacking Modafinil and caffeine together?
Modafinil and Caffeine | The Basics
Caffeine works in a way that is different from Modafinil, yet leads to a similar result.
It primarily prevents adenosine from binding to the adenosine receptors in your brain. Without any interference, this mechanism would normally cause you to get sleepy throughout the day .
Caffeine also binds to the adrenaline receptors in your brain, which gives you the “jolt” when you consume it. So in a sense, you're inhibiting your body's natural inclination to sleep later in the day while stimulating your central nervous system.
That's why you start to feel your mind racing and your heart pumping after your first cup of ‘Joe' in the morning. Your focus improves, your fingers type a little faster and you can process more thoughts in a shorter period of time.
Now at this point, you're probably wondering what happens when you combine two stimulants like Modafinil and caffeine together.
But before I do, let me get this out of the way and say that a good cup of coffee – around 100 mg of caffeine – is the BEST source of caffeine you can get.
I would recommend staying away from energy drinks, as they're loaded with way too much caffeine and you don't need the extra calories that come from all the sugar.
Gum is an OK source of caffeine, but its alertness-promoting effects aren't as consistent. Pills are your second best choice, and a good emergency option to have when you don't have time to brew a cup of coffee. It's also a decent alternative for people who are worried about staining their teeth yellow from drinking too much coffee.
However, be warned that it hits you much faster and harder than a cup of coffee. I've seen people start twitching nervously after taking just two 100 mg pills of caffeine.
So my recommendation stands:
Modafinil and coffee is by far the best way to go about combining the two nootropics. Let's go a little bit deeper and look at the individual benefits of caffeine and Modafinil.
Modafinil Might Actually Make You “Smarter”
I came across an interesting Reddit post which best describes this phenomenon :
I've taken modafinil for the last couple of days and I feel like my IQ has jumped up about 30 points. Which tells me that a higher state of intelligence is something my brain is capable of under the correct conditions.
While Modafinil can technically increase fluid intelligence short-term – i.e. your ability to solve problems in brand new situations – the effect of feeling “smarter” has a much easier explanation.
Due to the euphoric surge of motivation you experience, you become way more focused on the task on hand. You are more efficient at using the information stored in your memory.
You're also far more resilient, as you keep on searching for answers in situations where you would normally get tired and call it quits. So from an outside perspective, you appear more creative and smarter to other people.
Modafinil Removes Mental Barriers To Decision Making
Extending from the benefit above, Modafinil has this wonderful ability to clear through self-sabotaging behaviours such as procrastination.
Many people have noticed how Modafinil's main benefit involves actually focusing on the task on hand instead of searching for endless ways to put it off until later.
There are students who can actually stay awake and take copious notes during presentations and lectures that would normally put them to sleep.
In short, you get to stay awake AND retain full use of your brain, which can't always be said for caffeine. Even though caffeine may keep you awake at times, users have noticed it can't compromise for the decline in thought processing caused by a lack of sleep.
Modafinil Helps You Control Your Emotions
According to a systematic review done in 2013, Modafinil is beneficial for emotional regulation in both healthy and sleep-deprived individuals .
Many people have noticed that Modafinil can help them feel more confident, demonstrate a better sense of humor and feel much more motivated.
The most interesting part, however, is how Modafinil helps you recognize emotions in other people:
For simple affective faces, neither sleep loss nor modafinil made any difference to the accuracy of judgements. In contrast, for complex emotion blends, modafinil significantly improved the ability to discriminate subtle aspects of emotion correctly relative to placebo.
So if you're a social animal looking for an edge, give Modafinil a shot!
Caffeine Improves Your Speed Of Execution
Ever notice how things just become “faster” when you have a good cup of coffee or two in your belly?
That's the caffeine doing its magic. Studies have shown that a dose of 160-600 mg can help improve the rate at which you process mental thoughts and perform physical tasks .
I've personally noticed this myself. With the right amount of caffeine, I can type way faster and churn out more content. It's one of the very first benefits anyone experiences when they are brand new to using caffeine.
Caffeine Improves Your Performance In The Gym
There's a very good reason why pre-workout formulas jack the caffeine content all the way up :
Effects on physical performance on a vast array of physical performance metrics such as time-to-exhaustion, time-trial, muscle strength and endurance, and high-intensity sprints typical of team sports are evident following doses that exceed about 200 mg (∼3 mg kg−1).
I'm not saying you should go to the extreme and consume 5 cups of coffee before your workout. In most cases, an extra cup is all you really need.
And in most cases you'll save a lot of hard-earned money. 😉
Caffeine Can Reduce Fatigue At Low Doses
If you're feeling somewhat tired and out of whack, a small cup of coffee (no more than 100 mg) can actually help you feel less tired throughout the day .
But be warned: Once you start taking higher doses, caffeine can actually induce fatigue and lead to mental burnout!
Caffeine is a great way to power through the hard days when responsibly used in moderation.
Benefits of Caffeine and Modafinil…When Combined!
So what exactly happens when Modafinil and caffeine are paired together? Do you get an incredible boost in cognition, or is the synergistic effect simply too much for anyone to handle?
There's only one way to find out, so let's see what other people have experienced…
Modafinil And Caffeine Will Keep You Awake For A LONG Time!
Anybody who has an upcoming all-nighter should pay close attention to this. Since Modafinil improves your wakefulness and caffeine inhibits the body's natural inclination to sleep, you get a double-whammy combination that leads to productivity nirvana.
Many Reddit users have found that a standard dose of both nootropics (200 mg Modafinil + 200 mg caffeine) leads to some of the following :
“I ended up staying awake for 30 hours unintentionally and I felt as fresh as though It was the afternoon”
“It might make you quite jittery but your focus on work is really high almost like tunnel vision”
“Although it doesn't provoke discipline I find that once I start a task I can't pull myself away until I finish, for example, I'll start cleaning my room then when I take the rubbish out I notice some mess in the kitchen to.. then I clean that up, soon enough my whole house is sparkling.”
While I don't endorse all-nighters due to the cumulative damage they can eventually do to your body and mind, once a while you just gotta get stuff done in an unreasonable amount of time.
Modafinil and Caffeine Increase BDNF Expression
What on earth is BDNF, you may ask? Great question!
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neuroprotein that comes with a wide variety of mental health benefits:
- Lowers your risk of contracting neurodegenerative diseases
- Encourages the growth of new neurons via neuroplasticity, while helping existing neurons survive for longer
- Contributes significantly towards improved memory and faster learning
In short, the more BDNF your brain is producing, the better.
A study done in rats who were sleep-deprived for 48 hours found that the combination of caffeine and Modafinil helped increase BDNF production .
While it's a longshot to apply this same finding towards humans, it's not unreasonable to think the same thing could happen.
Modafinil and Caffeine Help You Power Through Complex Cognitive Tasks
This one is a bit of a long shot, so hear me out!
A double-blind placebo-controlled study examined the behaviour of participants playing chess against a highly advanced computer program. Subjects took a placebo, 2 x 20 mg Ritalin, 2 x 200 mg of Modafinil, or 2 x 200 mg of caffeine .
In either case, the subjects who took one of the three drugs spent more time on average making a decision within each game.
But when you exclude games that were lost due to a time limit, Modafinil significantly enhanced chess performance compared to the placebo while caffeine's effect was negligible.
However, caffeine users felt significantly less fatigued compared to the placebo while Modafinil's effect was insignificant.
So think about it this way: Combine Modafinil's performance-enhancing capabilities with caffeine's fatigue-reducing effects, and you've turned an ordinary person into a superhuman machine!
Side Effects | Modafinil and Caffeine
Now, I do need to warn you about the side effects that come with taking caffeine and Modafinil together.
It can be a double-edged sword if you don't know what you're doing.
So before you start popping Modafinil pills like candy and drinking 5 cups of coffee, read this section thoroughly!
Everyone knows what happens when you ingest too much caffeine.
You start getting the jitters. You feel a lot more anxious. Your heart starts beating a lot faster. You might even feel nauseated.
Now add in another stimulant and you have the recipe for what could be a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
Even if you aren't someone who easily gets nervous, the combined effect of two stimulants may prove to be too much for you.
It takes an experienced person to know how to “handle” the massive energy boost that comes with combining Modafinil and caffeine.
Start low, go slow. If this is your very first time, don't go above 100 mg of Modafinil and 100 mg of caffeine.
I personally will never do anything more than 200 mg of Modafinil and 2 cups of coffee.
Caffeine withdrawal is a real thing and should be taken very seriously .
I've personally noticed things such as headaches, lower energy, and emotional instability when I quit taking high doses of caffeine cold turkey.
But in the case of combining caffeine with Modafinil, it can get a lot worse.
If you use the combination for too long without any kind of long-term break – 1-2 weeks or so – you end up getting hooked on the cognitive high.
I don't recommend using Modafinil and caffeine for any longer than 7-10 days in a row, and I'd even go as far as to take a 7-10 break to allow your body to restore itself to normal.
Disrupting Your Body's Circadian Rhythm
When you are taking caffeine and Modafinil together, take a second to think about what you're doing.
You are essentially shutting down your body's natural sleep-wake cycle in the hopes of sustaining high performance.
It is natural for you to get energetic and tired at certain times of the day. Our bodies are literally designed to alternate between periods of rest and recovery.
You will only be able to use this combination for so long before your body “fights back”, so to speak. Don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling ridiculously lethargic after using caffeine and Modafinil for too long.
What I do to avoid this is ensuring I use both Modafinil and coffee very early in the morning, never drinking any coffee after 2pm. You want to give your body plenty of time to clear both drugs out of your system in time for bed.
Your body can only handle so much abuse, and you only have one, so make sure you treat it with the care it needs!
Is It Worth the Risk? | Verdict
To wrap things up, Modafinil and caffeine is arguably the best nootropic stack you will ever come across. Their stimulant effects work together to keep sleepiness at bay and your mind sharp.
But it also has the highest potential for abuse, so make sure you are very diligent with how and when you use it.
Overall, highly recommended!
Got any questions? Please feel free to comment below, and I’ll do my best to get back to you!
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- Franke AG, Gransmark P, Agricola A, et al. Methylphenidate, modafinil, and caffeine for cognitive enhancement in chess: A double-blind, randomised controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017;27(3):248-260. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2017.01.006
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