Modafinil for Studying: A Real-Life Limitless Pill or Just Hype?

Modafinil for studying

Modafinil for Studying: A Real-Life Limitless Pill or Just Hype?

Ever since the 2011 Bradley Cooper movie Limitless hit the big screens, pop culture has been obsessed with the idea of cognitive enhancement.

One pill that would quickly help you become the smartest version of yourself, allowing you to unlock the lifestyle you truly want. It's a nice vision, right? But surely it's completely out of the realms of possibility?

Well, I'm here to tell you, not necessarily.

On university campuses around the world, it is becoming increasingly common to see students taking what is commonly referred to as nootropics, study drugs or smart pills.

The most common of such substances (at least in the UK), is modafinil, a prescription-only medicine used in the UK for narcolepsy.

In reality, how useful is it for studying? Is it comparable to NZT-48 from Limitless, or is it just hype?

Our team of nootropic experts looked into this thoroughly, and what they discovered may surprise you.

If you are interested in this topic, you should also consider checking out our Ultimate Modafinil UK Guide: Effects, Side Effects, Dosage and More.

Why are students using modafinil?


- Why are students using modafinil?

Modafinil’s effects as a study drug

Modafinil’s side effects

Modafinil’s legality

Safe and effective alternatives to modafinil

Why are students using modafinil?

The recent growth of the use of modafinil in the UK has several contributing factors.

Today, many students feel a great deal of pressure or stress while studying. Tuition fees in the UK are higher than ever, and education can be very expensive in other places, too.

As a result, many students are expected to succeed as a fiscal necessity, so they view using modafinil for studying as a way to improve the return from their investment.

study drugs

In a similar vein, it has become much harder to find rewarding work. In many instances, students need to have very good academic and extracurricular results to get a good job.

This makes some students feel that taking modafinil for studying is ‘worth it’ to try and excel academically and get more opportunities later.

Many students also have issues with mental health, which makes studying much harder. Using modafinil for studying might be a way for some students with mental health issues to try and catch up if they have an unproductive period stemming from a mental illness.

focus pills

Additionally, it's quite common for students to struggle when adapting to university.

There are a lot of plates students must keep spinning particularly now as there are more societal demands placed on young people: socialising, relationships, fitness, jobs and other factors.

This can make some students overstretch themselves, so they feel the need to take modafinil to stay on top of their university work.

school stress

Finally, more people may use modafinil for studying because it’s easy to become distracted from your studies.

Constantly having access to a phone, television or the internet makes procrastination an ever-present problem. It can make people fall behind in their studies, so they feel they must use modafinil for studying to catch up. 

If you want an alternative to modafinil that can help your studies, then you might want to try a natural nootropic, such as Brainzyme.

work stress

Modafinil’s effects as a study drug: modafinil for studying

Modafinil is scientifically classed as a eugeroic, which means its primary effect is to promote wakefulness. It is not strictly a stimulant, but its effects are quite similar to many stimulants.

This means that many students use it as a wakefulness aid. Students working in the days before exams or deadlines might feel the need to cram study into the night to improve their grades.

Quick Tip: Brainzyme Focus Pro works as a great alternative to synthetic smart drugsQuick Tip:
Modafinil's mechanism of action is (by a large degree) to act on the brain neurotransmitter dopamine, of which one pathway has a major motivational component. It can for some also increase wakefulness and decrease appetite.

If you want a powerful natural alternative that works on the same pathway (and thus has similar results with fewer side effects), you should try Brainzyme® Focus Pro.

study aid pills

According to some reports, modafinil can be used as a cognitive enhancer, which is why many students opt to use it for their studies.

The Guardian called modafinil, the “world’s first safe smart drug.” Some people have reported that it improved problem-solving and made boring tasks more pleasurable to get through.

However, this is somewhat controversial: the NHS reports that modafinil was no more effective than a placebo when tested in this capacity.

Modafinil’s side effects

According to NHS guidelines, modafinil’s side effects include headaches, nausea, nervousness, insomnia, stomach aches, irritability, weight loss, and arrhythmia.

One of modafinil’s manufacturers, Teva, say that headaches occur in “more than one in ten” modafinil users. Their list of modafinil’s common side effects roughly aligns with those described by the NHS.

The American FDA sheds light on the more serious side-effects of modafinil.

Their documentation suggests that modafinil can cause psychological issues. These are rare, but according to the FDA, modafinil may be connected with depression, anxiety, hallucinations, mania, suicidal thoughts, or aggressive behaviour.

Rather nebulously, modafinil’s side effects may additionally include "other mental problems."

brain tablets

Skin problems are another issue that may result from modafinil use, which is supported by case studies and the FDA.

The FDA reports that rashes ‘could become life-threatening’, but from our research, there do not seem to be any recorded fatalities resulting from a modafinil-induced rash.

Watch: Modafinil side effects in detail

Some scientists are concerned that modafinil may have the potential for addiction. Researchers believe that modafinil increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, which is part of what makes a drug addictive.

This risk seems low, but it is a concern expressed by some researchers. It's also worth bearing in mind that most studies undertaken are over short periods - longer-term addiction might be a problem that's thus far gone undiscovered.

To avoid modafinil's side effects and other health risks, you might want to try our favourite natural nootropic instead.

Is modafinil legal in the UK?

British law has placed modafinil in a bit of a legal grey area. It isn’t explicitly illegal to possess without a prescription, and punishment for possession is rare.

However, modafinil is illegal to sell to people who haven’t been prescribed it, following the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act.

Additionally, the aforementioned Act is vague about what a ‘psychoactive substance’ is, meaning that possession of modafinil may become punishable by law.


Because of this, most people who use modafinil off-label purchase it from overseas pharmacies. These businesses operate outside of British regulations, so they may be selling adulterated or fake medication that may be ineffective, or cause an undesired reaction.

Safer alternatives

If you want to take a study drug, but would also like to avoid the uncertainty and side effects of modafinil, then consider a natural nootropic like BrainZyme.

Natural nootropics are fast growing in popularity among both experienced nootropic and new users.

Why? They can deliver similar results but by using natural, herbal or protein-based ingredients.

Watch: The best over-the-counter concentration pill

BrainZyme, for example, uses tyrosine, which has been found to boost dopamine in the brain in a similar way to modafinil.

But, as it's from a naturally occurring protein rather than a synthetic pharmaceutical, it can arguably cause less of the side-effects associated with modafinil.

If you'd like to learn more about why Brainzyme makes a fantastic modafinil alternative, please click here.

Related articles

Alternatively, you could also consider checking out the following related articles:

Smart Pill UK 2019 Review - Which Ones to Try and Which to Avoid

11 Tips to Get a First Class Degree from Someone Who Got One

Study Skills: 15 Study Skills you NEED to succeed at school or University


* = Important note - whilst Brainzyme is scientifically proven to support concentration and mental performance, it is not a replacement for a good diet, moderate exercise or sleep. Brainzyme is also not a drug, medicine or pharmaceutical. It is a natural-sourced, vegan food supplement with ingredients that are scientifically proven to support cognition, concentration, mental performance and reduction of tiredness. You should always consult with your doctor if you require medical attention.

** = Anecdotally, the improved concentration from Brainzyme enables increased motivation.


  • Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for your question!

    BrainZyme is made from entirely naturally-sourced ingredients which are naturally a lot safer than pharmaceuticals.

    The similar effect comes from the fact that both substances work on the dopamine pathway in your brain.

    You should notice a big difference in the side-effects you get (BrainZyme is a lot smoother and results in less of a crash), especially if you try both substances long-term.

    I hope this clears things up for you.

    Best wishes,

    Robert (Mod)
  • I’m a little confused – why is brainzyme safer than modafinil if it has similar effects?


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