In the world of nootropics there are a lot of choices, some you may have heard of, and some might be completely new to you. While the definition of a nootropic is loose at this point in time, I decided to put together a quick look at the most commonly used ones that people are buying today. The central idea behind all nootropics is that they enhance your mental processes such as your attention or your mood.
L-Theanine is a popular nootropic that you may have already tried without knowing it. This substance is found in tea and can tend to be really subtle since the dose would be much lower than if you were to use it alone as a means of focus. There have been many that claim that l-theanine doesn’t really do anything for them, others have positive experiences with it. One issue is that to get results similar to other popular and dependable nootropics like modafinil you need to combine l-theanine with caffeine. You spend money on two substances to get the effect you should get with just one, plus the crash and likely dependence on caffeine makes that quite a negative impact. Along with that there have been many that claim they only end up feeling spaced out and tired instead of focused and motivated, others only get a little boost in confidence that helps out with social interactions. Although it is a nootropic, it doesn’t really seem to give that fully focused and alert feeling that these types of substances are known for.
Another lesser-known option, which is actually the parent compound for all racetam nootopics, is piracetam. This one has been around for quite some time now and like l-theanine this one is really hit and miss with people. This typically comes in packs of powder so it can be inconvenient and dangerous for those that do not have a scale to measure out a proper dose. It isn’t designed to help out with focus or staying on task, instead many have claimed that it aids your social abilities and confidence. Others have mentioned getting anxiety that made it very hard for them to stay on task, or that they ended up depressed instead of having a better mood. If you are more concerned about having something to help you out socially then this might be for you, but if you’re looking for productivity then you may want to go elsewhere.
Adderall, which is composed of amphetamine salts, is one of the most commonly used nootropics in the United States, though most just know of it as a stimulant. Adderall is very helpful for staying alert, awake, and focused. However, Adderall doesn’t have the same effects on people who do not suffer from ADHD: The opposite effect can occur. There seems to be less control with Adderall compared to something like modafinil which gives the same results without giving up that control and no worry about the urge to redose. Adderall can also have a very rough comedown for people that leave them with a headache, irritable, and unable to get any rest. Obtaining Adderall is also difficult compared to many of the other options mentioned.
Ritalin, a pill that contains methylphenidate, is similar to Adderall in many ways in that it is meant to help those with ADHD focus, stay alert, and can help with staying awake. Like Adderall, Ritalin has a very rough comedown that for some can cause a feeling of depression along with the headache, irritability, and insomnia that you get with Adderall. You may also find it hard to focus for long and can easily be distracted by anything your mind might perceive as being more fun. The anxiety you can feel with both of these substances is also a big issue when you not only need to focus, but it can make it difficult to even go about your day when you have to fight those uncomfortable feelings. Ritalin can be difficult to obtain and isn’t recommended for everyone.
Modafinil is a popular nootropic among those that have tried it, though like many of the others mentioned, it is not as well-known as caffeine, Ritalin, or even Adderall. It is one of the simplest to obtain and safer to take than those that come in powder because you receive the proper dose in each pill. There’s no urge to redose, no jittery feeling, and your focus isn’t affected by things like anxiety or a decreased mood since the effects are so subtle. You won’t need to mix this with caffeine, like most nootropics, and you won’t have to worry about dependence or addiction as you would with caffeine. Some of the other options could be good for people wanting just short term focus, but this can give a full day of focus with just one dose.
Whichever nootropic you feel is best for your needs always be sure to research the proper dosage since many can come in powders, and make sure to check for any reactions with other substances if you are taking any. Never take any more than the recommended dose because although one person may have had a positive experience your mileage may vary.