Imagine pulling a pill out of its case and holding it up to the light.

What you hold in your hand is the world’s most effective cognitive enhancer.

Would you be nervous?

Would your heart rate rise as you feel the little capsule descend into your system?

What could you expect?

The mainstream world woke up to nootropics in 2011 when the Hollywood blockbuster Limitless hit the screens. The public started fantasising about what a drug like that could do in their own life.

We collectively asked one important question – is there a drug that can make you smarter?


What is The Limitless Pill For?

Inside his brain on NZT

In Limitless, Bradley Cooper played a depressed, washed up writer who stumbled onto a miracle drug that turned him into a superhuman genius.

He could learn Spanish by only half-listening to a language course as he jogged. He could debate on almost any topic, holding a crowd and making them laugh. He was a fountain of motivation, expertise, and confidence. Women were putty in his hands.

“Information from the odd museum show, a half-read article, some PBS documentary, it was all bubbling up in my frontal lobes, mixing itself together into a sparkling cocktail of useful information.”

What is NZT?

The miracle drug that turned Bradley’s character, Eddie Morra, from zero to hero in one gulp was NZT-48, an unlicensed, experimental neural enhancer that his old friend/drug dealer swindled from some unsavoury characters.

After stealing a large stash of NZT, Eddie does what just about any of us would do. He starts popping a pill every day, using his newly found “4-point IQ” to make oodles of cash on the stock market. Unfortunately for him, the drug had some side-effects about as bad as the benefits were good.

He learns that all previous users were either sick or dead. He was about to reach the same fate if he didn’t act fast.

Is There Anything Like NZT?

NZT-48 is, of course, a fictional substance. No one has yet been able to raise a person’s base-level IQ. It seems that, for now at least, we’re stuck with the fluid intelligence we were born with.

However, if you watch Limitless again with a critical eye, you might notice a lot of the wonder-drug’s benefits came not from processing power, but from a rise in motivation, enthusiasm, and focus.

The clarity and drive NZT provided are much more achievable. And yes, we do have a drug that seems to match up. Better yet, for those that aren’t allergic, it seems to have zero side-effects!

That drug is a nootropic called modafinil.

The similarities crop up in the first act of the movie.

“What was this drug? I couldn’t stay messy on it, I hadn’t had a cigarette in 6 hours, hadn’t eaten, so – abstemious and tidy? What was this, a drug for people who wanted to be more anal retentive? I wasn’t high, I wasn’t wired, just clear. I knew what to do, and how to do it.”

The piece of dialogue above couldn’t be closer to what some modafinil users have reported.

“Perplexed, I got up, made a sandwich – and I was overcome with the urge to write an article that had been kicking around my subconscious for months. It rushed out of me in a few hours, and it was better than usual. My mood wasn’t any different; I wasn’t high. My heart wasn’t beating any faster. I was just able to glide into a state of concentration – deep, cool, effortless concentration. It was like I had opened a window in my brain and all the stuffy air had seeped out, to be replaced by a calm breeze.”

Johann Hari, talking about his first experience with modafinil.

Let me highlight a few words from the quotes above:

“I wasn’t high, I wasn’t wired, just clear. I knew what to do, and how to do it.” – Fictional NZT-48.

“I wasn’t high. My heart wasn’t beating any faster. I was just able to glide into a state of concentration – deep, cool, effortless concentration.” – Real-world modafinil.

Modafinil is rumoured to be the original inspiration for Limitless. That doesn’t surprise me in the least.

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What is The “Genius Pill”, Modafinil?

Sold under the name Provigil, modafinil was originally synthesised in 1986 as an experimental treatment for narcolepsy, a condition which causes extreme and sudden tiredness. Sufferers can fall asleep without warning at any time of the day. It was approved by the FDA in 1998. Soon after, people started noticing modafinil had a few other favourable effects.

Silicon Valley CEOs started using it to kick even more ass than normal. In the late 2000s, Provigil became known as “the entrepreneur’s drug of choice”.

The military experimented with the drug to keep soldiers awake and performing for long periods of time. One study of helicopter pilots suggested 600mg of modafinil given in 3 doses can be used to keep the pilots alert and maintain their accuracy at pre-deprivation levels for 40 hours without sleep. Such sleep deprivation would be a risky strategy for you and me, but in a war situation, it just might save your life.

Neuropsychologist Barbara Sahakian of the University of Cambridge has been studying the effects of modafinil on healthy people. We now know it works on dopamine, noradrenaline, and potentially glutamate. Her work is focused on improving the longevity of people’s minds. She’s optimistic about the promise of modafinil, but she stresses that there are no long-term studies conducted. More research is needed to fully understand this substance.

For some people, modafinil seems to provide an incredible level of mental clarity, focus, and even motivation to complete any tasks they need to get done. What’s more, many people don’t experience a crash, a come-down, or any trace of a hangover the next day! Much like CPH4, from the movie Lucy.

Bottled Motivation

Your felt motivation can be improved by a number of tactics.

  • Improving sleep quality
  • Exercising regularly
  • Clarifying the purpose of your work
  • Strengthening your social support structure
  • Defining challenging goals that get you excited
  • Dialling in your diet for maximum energy

There are a lot of things you have to get right to attain the maximum level of motivation and mental clarity your mind is capable of.

Imagine if, instead, you could cram motivation and mental clarity into a capsule and take it with your morning cup of Earl Grey.

Could it help you get your life in order? Would it make cleaning up your apartment pass by like a blurry montage? Would you enjoy the feeling of endless focus and energy for the work you have to do, or better yet, the feeling that you deeply want to do the work you have to do?

For some people, modafinil seems to be exactly that – a hit of mental drive, focus, and clarity that lasts the whole day.

“It makes you sharp as shit.”Joe Rogan

“Holy crap. Things are effortless. I got my brain back.”Dave Asprey

“The motivation for getting things done was incredible and it came like thunder from a clear sky.”Joen Rude Falsner

Will modafinil, like NZT, send you on a productivity ‘bender’ where, at the end, you stand back and survey your room, career, or life, suddenly in perfect order?

It seems possible. As Johann Hari, at the end of his short modafinil experiment, surveyed his room, he had this to say:

“As I put the tablets aside, I look out over my flat. My desk is piled high with the vast quantities of work I have pumped out. My cupboards are full of uneaten food. The whole place is freakishly clean, something I did in my spare time, without even thinking about it.”

After some consideration, he decided he wanted to play it safe and not take the nootropic on a regular basis until further research was done on the potential long-term effects.

He says he put his stash away in his bathroom cabinet with a wistful sigh. Maybe one day…

The 2nd Highest Predictor of Lifetime Success

In the first scene in the movie, Bradley’s character, Eddie, narrates the intense scene on display. He’s about to leap off his apartment balcony, and he thinks, “For a guy with a 4-digit IQ, I must have missed something, and I don’t miss much.”

Opening scene from Limitless

Alas, there is still no way to raise a person’s IQ significantly. A lot of people have tried. IQ level is the highest predictor of life success.

But it’s not the only one.

Another trait closely follows IQ in predicting someone’s success across a lifetime. And this trait seems to be affected by Modafinil just as much as the fictional NZT.

The 2nd success trait is conscientiousness.

Conscientious people are good at planning. They follow a schedule. They get things done fast. They keep things tidy. They don’t suffer fools gladly, and tend not to invite distractions from their work.

Conscientiousness fragments into two aspects: industriousness and orderliness.

Industriousness relates to work ethic. Doing what you say you’ll do. Working efficiently. Working long hours. Being productive without having to force yourself to be.

Working stocks on NZT-48

Orderliness is a tidiness trait. Orderly people like everything to be in its place, and find tremendous satisfaction in tidying up and organising.

Cleaning whilst on NZT

There are no studies yet linking modafinil and conscientiousness. Officially, there is no pharmacological intervention that affects this enviable personality trait. However, science is often slow to catch up to the explorers, and self-reports of modafinil note large increases in the following:

  • Focus.
  • Interest in work.
  • Disinterest in procrastination.
  • Irritation at distraction.
  • Eagerness to get tasks done as soon as possible.
  • Motivation to work.
  • Clear-headedness.

“By the time my editor returned to his desk, it was done. “Already?” my boss asked with his eyes wide open. I nodded casually, as if it was completely normal for me to finish my assignments early.”

Sebastián Serrano, writer for Vice.

It seems that modafinil raises one’s level of industriousness above your natural baseline. It seems to have a smaller effect on orderliness.

“Don’t sit around and do nothing. It is very uncomfortable to do so, as if your mind is trying to push your body physically into doing something.”

– Helpful Reddit ‘trip report’ for modafinil.

At the very least, modafinil gets you up and moving. TV and other entertainment are less appealing when you’re on it. You could easily find yourself entering a swift montage of cleaning up your pigsty room.

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For those who find modafinil fueling their conscientious side like this, it could give them a genuine advantage over their baseline self. If you don’t like the temperament God gave you, and you wish you could focus for longer, think more clearly, and work faster and longer… it would seem we have a pill for that.

Productivity increase and boost on NZT-48

Safety Concerns for Modafinil

People vary tremendously in their reactions to almost all drugs. You might know someone who bounces off the walls after one espresso. Another friend might be able to pound them all day without getting a real “buzz”. Some of that will be explained by building up a tolerance, but not all. People are built quite differently.

The diversity in reactions is no different with nootropics. If you’re considering trying modafinil, or any other nootropic, bare this in mind. Your results may vary.

Some people find modafinil to be like a miracle drug. It allows them to perform at their very best every day they take it without addiction, side-effects, or even a come-down. Could anything be better?

Others, however, aren’t so lucky. Tim Ferriss, for example, reports getting bad migraines on modafinil. Reporter Benjamin Zand took some and filmed his experience for the BBC. He developed a little puffy spot on his arm and leg, as well as slight nausea and headache. Richard of Improvement Pill found that he had an allergic reaction to modafinil, involving very itchy bumps and even blisters. If you’re on modafinil and you notice an unusual bump or rash, stop taking it immediately and get checked out by a doctor.

If you have Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, avoid modafinil altogether. For you, it can trigger a severe rash. However, SJS affects only about 1 in 200,000 people, and it’s triggered by a large variety of drugs, including some antibiotics, analgesics, cold medication, and many more. If you have SJS, you probably already know about it. If you have any doubt, talk to your doctor before trying modafinil.

The effective dosage also changes a lot from person to person. Some people take large 600mg doses (three standard pills). Others find even one pill overwhelming, and a mere 50mg dose is enough to put them in the zone without any negative side-effect.

In Summary: If you don’t have Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, go ahead and try modafinil – but be smart about it. Start with a 50mg dose and work up to a higher dose if you want. Stay mindful of how you feel, and stop if you experience any negative side-effects like rashes or headaches.

Is Modafinil Legal?

In the UK, modafinil is a prescription medication. This means that it’s not illegal to buy it for yourself, but it is illegal to sell it without a prescription. If you buy online, then, you can get around the legality issue.

There are two official suppliers of modafinil – Sun Pharma and HAB Pharma. If you source from these companies, which you can do here via Nixest, you’ll get what you pay for (and it’ll be above board).


You’ll find a number of alternative nootropic ‘stacks’ on the market today which come under the category of ‘supplement’, rather than prescription drug. They cannot claim the same strength of effect that modafinil boasts, but they can still significantly boost your mental power and motivation.

The main benefit about most nootropic stacks is they are made of natural ingredients that we know a lot more about than modafinil, which is a synthetic substance and relatively young.


Recommended by a world series poker champion, a biohacking entrepreneur, and a grand master of memory, CILTEP has a great reputation in the world of nootropics. It’s open-source ingredient list consists of only natural products and doesn’t affect levels of neurotransmitters. Modafinil, by contrast, increases dopamine levels in the brain, among other things, and as such, some people worry about becoming reliant. In their FAQ, CILTEP claims the effects of the product are “time seems to slow, distractions fade away (increased focus), and you have a strong desire to learn/read/work. The more mentally demanding the task, the more CILTEP shines.”


Another favourite nootropic stack of ours is MASTERMIND. Also made from all-natural ingredients, Apex-Mind’s flagship product can help raise your motivation levels, enhance your ability to focus, and even allow you to go on adventures in vivid lucid dream landscapes. The fact that none of the ingredients are synthetic make Mastermind quite safe.

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If you suffer from a little brain fog or mid-afternoon slump, CILTEP or Mastermind might be enough to lift you into high productivity without any risk of side-effects.

Is Modafinil For You?

If you’re a knowledge worker, writer, entrepreneur, or you otherwise rely on your mind for your livelihood, modafinil might give you an edge over your competition that you’ve never had before. As long as you’re not suffering from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, trying modafinil is relatively safe. As we’ve said, be aware of your body when you take it, and get off it if you experience headaches or any signs of an allergic reaction.

If you’re one of the lucky many that experience a boost in motivation and concentration without any side-effects at all, the only problem you’ll face is whether to tell your coworkers why your output has suddenly hockey-sticked!

To take the leap, we recommend trying Modalert – 200mg tablets produced by Sun Pharma.

Get in touch. We’d love to hear about your experience!