How Does Modafinil Work?

The brain is a mysterious organ.

We do not yet know how consciousness exists, but we think we can improve it. This is controlling the mind so it behaves as we think it ought to behave. Aligning intrinsic goals with extrinsic action so that behavior reinforces what makes us happy; that is the goal.

What’s that got to do with Modafinil?

Modafinil focuses the mind. Essentially, it raises your levels of consciousness. Biohacking God, Dave Asprey says all humans have a Modafinil deficiency. We agree.

Modafinil is many things. It’s an FDA-approved Eugeroic, taken for arousal and prescribed for jetlag. Leveraged by traders banking on around the clock stock ticking; students balancing kick-ass grades and a social life; software engineers banging out code hackathonning until sunrise; etc., President Obama isn’t the only executive swallowing the white pill.

And it’s safe.

So how does it work?(The below gets technical, so stick around to learn a bit about pharmacology and neuroscience)

Modafinil 100mg is an alpha-adrenergic agonist, meaning that it activates alpha adrenergic receptors on neurons or brain cells. This increases the receptors’ intake of norepinephrine and dopamine, chemical messengers or neurotransmitters used by neurons to communicate with each other.

Modafinil also inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine, preventing reabsorption of the neurotransmitters by the same neurons that first released them. This increases norepinephrine and dopamine available to be absorbed by other neurons, enabling more neurotransmission.

Neuroimaging has also shown Modafinil to stimulate the production of norepinephrine in the locus coeruleus and its release, further increasing its availability throughout the brain.

These increased levels of norepinephrine and dopamine cause levels of serotonin, glutamate, histamine, and orexins to also increase, while also decreasing the levels of gamma-amino-butrytic acid (GABA) found in the brain.

So how does all this affect my experience?

Norepiniphrine mobilizes the brain and body for action, enhancing energy levels as well as the formation and retrieval of memories

Dopamine directs and regulates movement and emotion, enabling intelligent action while decreasing impulsiveness Serotonin balances the mood, contributing to feelings of happiness and reduced stress

Glutamate plays a critical role in long-term potentiation, which is the strengthening of synapses that underlie learning and memory formation

Histamine increases sensory awareness, leading to higher levels of alertness and vigilance Orexin induces wakefulness, and increases libido and sexual endurance in men

GABA inhibits neurotransmission of the above neurotransmitters, but has been shown encourage relaxation