Modafinil and coffee sounds like the “dream team” of the nootropics world.
Both of them are stimulants that provide very similar benefits to cognitive enhancement, while working on the human brain in uniquely different ways.
One is a prescription medication, and the other is the world's most accessible and affordable drink.
Professionals and high-performing students worldwide are finding ways to get their hands on Modafinil to complement their coffee.
But can you drink coffee while taking Modafinil and expect to be several times more productive than using either nootropic by itself?
And furthermore, is it even a good idea to be consuming coffee and Modafinil at the same time?
Get 15% off all Buy Moda products as a Modafinil.com reader.
Just use this code at checkout: BUYMODA#1
What is Modafinil?
For new readers who are unfamiliar with Modafinil and what it does, this section will immediately bring you up to speed.
Modafinil is a pharmaceutical prescription drug designed to promote wakefulness and alertness. It is classified as a Schedule IV drug by the United States Food and Drugs Administration, who approved Modafinil as a treatment for excessive daytime sleepiness in threes separate medical conditions :
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Shift sleep disorder
Yet the pharmaceutical drug starting being used for off-the-label uses once it was reported to be an effective medication for fighting sleepiness and fatigue in sleep-deprived military personnel.
When ordinary smart drug users without sleep issues started using Modafinil, they found themselves experiencing cognitive benefits they could not get with any other nootropic:
- 12+ hours of intense focus
- Enhanced overall cognition
- Improved memory retention
- Inability to feel fatigue
As such, Modafinil became increasingly popular with Silicon Valley CEOs and Ivy League grad students.
Especially because of its remarkable safety profile :
“…the toxicology profile of [Modafinil] has shown fewer or no adverse effects compared to those reported in traditional psychostimulants such as amphetamine or cocaine.
In addition, [Modafinil] is generally well-tolerated in animal models in contrast with other stimulants and shows very low abuse liability (low reinforcing effects) in non-drug abusing individuals”
So what does any of this have to do with mixing Modafinil and coffee together?
Modafinil and Coffee | The Basics
In order to understand the advantages and disadvantages of mixing coffee and Modafinil together, we need to take a deeper dive into how each smart drug works in the human body.
While Modafinil and caffeine (the active ingredient in coffee) may provide similar nootropic effects, they work in very different ways.
Understanding How Modafinil Works
Modafinil's exact mechanism of action is still not known to scientists in the present day and age. While it's clear that Modafinil can lead to improved cognition, the “how” is still an unsolved mystery.
With that being said, here is a brief summary of what we know to date :
“Modafinil is associated with increased adrenergic, histaminergic, glutaminergic, and hypocretin activity and decreased gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity in specific parts of the brain”
It is important to note Modafinil's suppression of GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for promoting sleepiness. Modafinil can also slightly increase dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (informally known as the brain's “reward circuit”), but this is secondary to its other vigilance-enhancing mechanisms.
The increase of glutamate in specific areas of the thalamus that regulate wakefulness — combined with increasing hypocretin and histamine in other localized regions of the brain (both of which regulate arousal and cognition) — leads to the purported brain-boosting benefits of Modafinil.
Interestingly enough, Modafinil is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant but it is NOT categorized as an amphetamine.
This is because Modafinil's mechanism of action is distinctly separate from amphetamines in several ways :
“Modafinil appears to act on a specific subset of brain pathways which regulate sleep and wakefulness, whereas amphetamine affects a greater number of cerebral structures involved in the regulation of these behavioral states.
Modafinil also lacks the pronounced effects on the extrapyramidal motor system which are characteristic of amphetamine and other psychomotor stimulants, implying that the effects of modafinil are not mediated by the dopamine system and that modafinil may selectively increase wakefulness with fewer side effects.”
To put this in layman's terms, Modafinil can offer the productive “high” associated with amphetamine-based drugs without the undesirable side effects.
For many users, mundane tasks become fun again. Test subjects claim they are able to stay focused on things for longer because they become more enjoyable.
Understanding How Coffee and Caffeine Work
Caffeine is the biologically active compound in coffee responsible for waking us up when we feel groggy and tired in the morning.
Roughly 100 mg of caffeine can be found in a standard 250 mL cup of coffee.
Caffeine is similar to Modafinil in the subjective feelings of enhanced cognition both drugs provide , which explains why Modafinil and caffeine are often compared for their efficacy amongst nootropic users.
And like Modafinil, caffeine inhibits the release of GABA and therefore suppresses sleepiness.
However, caffeine's mechanism of action is uniquely different from that of Modafinil.
Caffeine's primary mechanism of action involves blocking the adenosine A1 and A2A receptors . Adenosine is a neurotransmitter responsible for inducing sleep, and so blocking its actions allows the brain to maintain a state of wakefulness for longer periods of time.
Other secondary modes of action contributing to the vigilance-promoting effects of caffeine include increased production of acetylcholine, dopamine, and glutamate. But none of these actions are believed to be the primary cause of caffeine's psychostimulant effects.
Which leads one to wonder if it's possible to simultaneously use Modafinil and coffee for a significant boost in personal productivity.
Can You Drink Coffee While Taking Modafinil?
You can absolutely use Modafinil and coffee together to achieve an unbelievably enhanced level of cognition. We've written about this topic previously in the context of Modafinil and caffeine taken together.
You just have to be extremely cautious as both nootropics are very powerful on their own.
For the MAXIMUM cognitive benefit you can safely experience without overstimulation or anxiety, we highly recommend 200 mg Modafinil + 2 cups of coffee (~200 mg caffeine) taken no more than 1-2 times a week.
This dosage has been confirmed by our test subjects to be the “upper limit” for achieving the nootropic benefits provided by both smart drugs.
However, if you are a beginner to using smart drugs and/or you are very sensitive to stimulants, you may not want to combine coffee and Modafinil together.
Taking either nootropic may prove to be enough for you. One study suggests that Modafinil and coffee are equally effective in healthy adults sleep-deprived for more than 48 hours :
“Like caffeine [600 mg], modafinil [200 mg or 400 mg] maintained performance and alertness during the early morning hours, when the combined effects of sleep loss and the circadian trough of performance and alertness trough were manifest.
Thus, equivalent performance- and alertness-enhancing effects were obtained with drugs possessing different mechanisms of action.”
Another study even concluded that 200 mg of Modafinil and 200 mg of caffeine provide the same level of alertness !
If you decide you want to combine Modafinil and coffee together, we recommend starting at low doses and gradually ramping both drugs up:
- 1 cup of coffee + 50 mg Modafinil
- 1 cup of coffee + 100 mg Modafinil
- 1 cup of coffee + 200 mg Modafinil
- 2 cups of coffee + 200 mg Modafinil
However, if you find your “ideal” combination of coffee and Modafinil much earlier, feel free to stick with it.
No matter what dosage of both nootropics you decide to go with, make sure you drink your coffee VERY slowly (unless you are drinking an espresso). You want to avoid overstimulating yourself to the point where you become unproductive :
“…symptoms of a caffeine overdose can include: Very fast or irregular heart beat, shakiness, feeling sick or vomiting, confusion, panic attack”
So can you drink coffee while taking Modafinil at the same time? The answer is a resounding “YES”!
But this doesn't answer exactly why — and how — they work so well together.
How Modafinil and Coffee Interact
With a full understanding of the mechanism of action involved behind coffee and Modafinil individually, we can take an educated guess at how they work synergistically.
To be clear: No published research studies or clinical trials have directly examined any synergistic molecular interactions between the two.
All we have are conjectures and anecdotes from experimental smart drug users, combined with studies examining each nootropic separately.
But we strongly believe there is enough data to suggest their effects are “additive” (i.e. their wakefulness-promoting properties combine to create an even higher state of wakefulness).
First, Modafinil and coffee increase wakefulness through separate mechanisms.
While coffee's primary effect involves blocking adenosine receptors, Modafinil selectively increases (or decreases) the production of certain neurotransmitters in very specific parts of the brain.
Some of our test subjects felt fatigued despite taking either nootropic in isolation, yet found that coffee and Modafinil taken together gave them the enhanced cognition they were looking for.
Second, coffee and Modafinil can both increase norepinephrine production .
Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter associated with arousal and wakefulness. In people who are severely deficient in norepinephrine, they can fall asleep much faster while having a more difficult time waking up.
Third, Modafinil and coffee have different pharmacokinetic properties that lead to different durations of enhanced cognition.
Caffeine has a half-life of roughly 5 hours, with its effects kicking in anywhere between 20 minutes and 60 minutes after administration. Modafinil, on the other hand, has a half-life of 12-15 hours and exerts its effects roughly 1-2 hours after taking it .
In other words, the peak plasma concentrations of coffee and Modafinil in the body happen 30-60 minutes and 2-4 hours after taking each nootropic (respectively).
The Best Way to Take Modafinil and Coffee Together for Maximum Cognition
After rigorous experimentation, we have developed a protocol that our test subjects say increase productive work output by 50-60% compared to a working day without any nootropics.
Here is the exact sequence and timing for dosing coffee and Modafinil together…
Take your dose of Modafinil early in the morning. 7-8am or earlier is ideal, but no later than 10am.
Ensure you have your first meal around the same time you take Modafinil. Due to Modafinil's appetite-suppressing effects, you want to have some food in your stomach so you don't forget to get adequate nutrition later in the day.
Take your cup(s) of coffee 1-2 hours after you have taken Modafinil and sip it very slowly. We do not recommend taking any type of caffeine past 12pm as its additive alertness-promoting effects alongside Modafinil can make it very difficult to follow a normal sleeping schedule.
This protocol has allowed our test subjects to maintain high levels of productivity for 12-14 hours at a time. Additionally, the fast-acting stimulant effects of caffeine seem to complement the prolonged focus provided by Modafinil.
The mechanism behind the direct interaction of Modafinil and coffee with one another remains a mystery.
However, several studies have been done examining the outcome of taking both smart drugs at the same time.
Both Modafinil and coffee have been shown to reduce fatigue in sleep-deprived individuals.
In one study examining both nootropics in healthy adults who were sleep-deprived for 54.5 hours, Modafinil and caffeine helped the subjects restore wakefulness when they were the most exhausted :
“The extent to which modafinil and caffeine reverse fatigue effects (defined as performance decrements with time on task) during total sleep deprivation was investigated.
“…Modafinil 400 mg attenuated fatigue in a manner comparable to that seen with caffeine 600 mg; these effects were especially salient during the circadian nadir of performance (06:00 through 10:00)”
The combination of coffee and Modafinil may enhance emotional intelligence.
Another study published in 2009 wanted to examine another aspect of smart drugs: Emotional perception and judgment.
While Modafinil and coffee can clearly overcome deficits in vigilance induced by sleep loss, scientists were unsure how more complex cognitive processes would be affected.
Here is what they found in patients who had not slept for 47 hours :
“For simple affective faces, neither sleep loss nor stimulant medications made any difference on the accuracy of judgments.
In contrast, for complex emotion blends, all three stimulant medications significantly improved the ability to discriminate subtle aspects of emotion correctly relative to placebo, but did not differ from one another”
Modafinil and coffee can potentially alleviate the increased sensitivity to pain caused by loss of sleep.
Boston's Children Hospital examined the use of stimulants instead of pain-relieving medications to reduce the severity of pain in sleep-deprived mice.
The results were completely unexpected and led to new implications for pain management :
“Surprisingly, common analgesics like ibuprofen did not block sleep-loss-induced pain hypersensitivity. Even morphine lost most of its efficacy in sleep-deprived mice.”
“…In contrast, both caffeine and modafinil, drugs used to promote wakefulness, successfully blocked the pain hypersensitivity caused by both acute and chronic sleep loss. Interestingly, in non-sleep-deprived mice, these compounds had no analgesic properties.”
Modafinil and coffee may be used to break the devastating sleep-pain cycle: Increased pain leads to difficulty with sleep, which leads to sleep loss that induces further pain and disrupts sleep even more.
Modafinil and coffee can enhance complex decision making
There are few games that possess the sheer complexity and difficulty of chess, especially when played at the highest levels.
An interesting study examined the use of 400 mg caffeine and 400 mg of Modafinil separately to examine how they would affect performance across thousands of chess games :
“…[Modafinil and caffeine] significantly increased average reflection time per game compared to placebo resulting in a significantly increased number of games lost on time with all three treatments.
…Only when controlling for game duration as well as when excluding those games lost on time, [Modafinil] enhanced chess performance as demonstrated by significantly higher scores in the remaining 2876 games compared to placebo.”
In other words, Modafinil and coffee led to decisions that were made after considerable reflection. This debunks the idea that both nootropics lead to rash decision-making and ill judgment.
Can you drink coffee while taking Modafinil without any adverse events whatsoever? The answer is no, as neither smart drug is perfect.
There are some side effects that are worsened when coffee and Modafinil are taken in high doses too frequently…
- Dehydrated Eyes & Mouth
Many first-time users to either drug, or the combination of both, often experience dehydration in the form of dry eyes and/or mouth.
The easiest solution to alleviating this side effect is to drink much more water than usual. If you're combining coffee and Modafinil together, drinking 2-4 liters of water a day would be a reasonable way to counteract their diuretic effects.
A Modafinil headache is a fairly common side effect, but coffee is also believed to induce headaches due to its ability to constrict blood vessels in your brain. Once coffee's effects wear off and blood flow increases, it can sometimes cause a headache .
This can be remedied by ensuring your lifestyle habits are fully optimized (clean nutrition, physical exercise, regular sleeping hours). In some cases, you may need to abstain from the combination of coffee and Modafinil for a few days.
- Higher Blood Pressure
As central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, Modafinil and coffee increase the activity of your body's sympathetic nervous system. There is a slight connection between Modafinil and elevated blood pressure, and this same connection also exists with regular caffeine use.
Therefore, combining the two may lead to even higher increases .
The good news is that you do not need to worry about this unless you have existing cardiovascular problems.
Abstaining from the combination of both nootropics for a few days is usually more than enough to eliminate this unwanted side effect.
For some nootropic users, Modafinil and caffeine may simply be too much in terms of the cognitive boost they provide in isolation. Taking both smart drugs at the same time may potentially increase anxiety levels, stress levels, and jitteriness even further :
“Most notably, a significantly higher percentage of the caffeine group reported symptoms of nervousness, excitation, happiness, abdominal pain, nausea, and jitteriness compared with placebo; higher nervousness, excitation, nausea, and jitteriness compared with modafinil”
Even though Modafinil did not significantly induce more jitteriness and anxiety compared to placebo in the quoted study, we know of several research subjects who have noticed this side effect while taking Modafinil.
While reducing the dosage of both nootropics may be helpful, several anonymous users on Internet drug forms suggest adding a third nootropic to the mix: L-theanine.
L-theanine is commonly taken alongside caffeine to counteract its unwanted side effects while providing its fair share of cognitive effects.
To put it another way, L-theanine can “smoothen” the focus provided by caffeine via improving sustained attention and decreasing the frequency of mind-wandering .
The combination of L-theanine and caffeine can also reduce the frequency of headaches and tiredness brought on by caffeine while shortening reaction time .
We highly recommend a 2:1 dosing ratio of L-theanine to caffeine for best results . If you are taking 200 mg of caffeine throughout the day, you should also supplement with 400 mg of L-theanine.
Coffee and Modafinil | The Verdict
You will be extremely hard-pressed to find a nootropic stack that provides greater cognitive enhancement than Modafinil and coffee.
Their wakefulness-promoting effects complement one another and significantly increase your ability to concentrate on difficult tasks for several hours at a time.
So long as you dose both smart drugs at the right doses and with the right timing, you should be able to avoid the side effects associated with coffee and Modafinil.
If you're serious about hacking the mind, improving brain power, making more money, or getting better grades… it would be worth your while to start combining caffeine and Modafinil for insane productivity!
- Modafinil. Retrieved June 10, 2020. webmd.com
- Murillo-Rodríguez E, Barciela Veras A, Barbosa Rocha N, Budde H, Machado S. An Overview of the Clinical Uses, Pharmacology, and Safety of Modafinil. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2018;9(2):151-158. doi:10.1021/acschemneuro.7b00374
- Ballon JS, Feifel D. A systematic review of modafinil: Potential clinical uses and mechanisms of action. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;67(4):554-566. doi:10.4088/jcp.v67n0406
- Engber TM, Dennis SA, Jones BE, Miller MS, Contreras PC. Brain regional substrates for the actions of the novel wake-promoting agent modafinil in the rat: comparison with amphetamine. Neuroscience. 1998;87(4):905-911. doi:10.1016/s0306-4522(98)00015-3
- Warot D, Corruble E, Payan C, Weil JS, Puech AJ. Subjective effects of modafinil, a new central adrenergic stimulant in healthy volunteers: a comparison with amphetamine, caffeine and placebo. Eur Psychiat. 2020;8(4):201-208. doi:10.1017/S0924933800002923
- Boutrel B, Koob GF. What keeps us awake: the neuropharmacology of stimulants and wakefulness-promoting medications. Sleep. 2004;27(6):1181-1194. doi:10.1093/sleep/27.6.1181
- Wesensten NJ, Belenky G, Kautz MA, Thorne DR, Reichardt RM, Balkin TJ. Maintaining alertness and performance during sleep deprivation: modafinil versus caffeine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002;159(3):238-247. doi:10.1007/s002130100916
- Dagan Y, Doljansky JT. Cognitive performance during sustained wakefulness: A low dose of caffeine is equally effective as modafinil in alleviating the nocturnal decline. Chronobiol Int. 2006;23(5):973-983. doi:10.1080/07420520600920734
- Can you overdose on caffeine? Retrieved June 11, 2020. medicalnewstoday.com
- Hunsley MS, Palmiter RD. Altered sleep latency and arousal regulation in mice lacking norepinephrine. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004;78(4):765-773. doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2004.05.008
- Kim D. Practical use and risk of modafinil, a novel waking drug. Environ Health Toxicol. 2012;27:e2012007. doi:10.5620/eht.2012.27.e2012007
- Wesensten NJ, Belenky G, Thorne DR, Kautz MA, Balkin TJ. Modafinil vs. caffeine: effects on fatigue during sleep deprivation. 2004;75(6):520-525.
- Huck NO, McBride SA, Kendall AP, Grugle NL, Killgore WD. The effects of modafinil, caffeine, and dextroamphetamine on judgments of simple versus complex emotional expressions following sleep deprivation. Int J Neurosci. 2008;118(4):487-502. doi:10.1080/00207450601125907
- To improve chronic pain, get more sleep (coffee helps too). Retrieved June 9, 2020. sciencedaily.com
- 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
- Scammell TE, Matheson J. Modafinil: a novel stimulant for the treatment of narcolepsy. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 1998;7(1):99-112. doi:10.1517/13543722.214.171.124
- Dry Mouth. Retrieved June 12, 2020. nidcr.nih.gov
- Caffeine Withdrawal Headache: Why It Happens and What You Can Do. Retrieved June 12, 2020. healthline.com
- Taneja I, Diedrich A, Black BK, Byrne DW, Paranjape SY, Robertson D. Modafinil elicits sympathomedullary activation. Hypertension. 2005;45(4):612-618. doi:10.1161/01.HYP.0000158267.66763.63
- Killgore WD, Rupp TL, Grugle NL, Reichardt RM, Lipizzi EL, Balkin TJ. Effects of dextroamphetamine, caffeine and modafinil on psychomotor vigilance test performance after 44 h of continuous wakefulness. J Sleep Res. 2008;17(3):309-321. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00654.x
- Kahathuduwa C, Wakefield S, West B, Blume J, Mastergeorge A. L-theanine and Caffeine Improve Sustained Attention, Impulsivity and Cognition in Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders by Decreasing Mind Wandering (OR29-04-19). Curr Dev Nutr. 2019;3(Suppl 1):nzz031.OR29-04-19. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzz031.OR29-04-19
- Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Milne AL, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. 2008;77(2):113-122. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2007.09.008
- What You Should Know About L-Theanine. Retrieved June 8, 2020. healthline.com