We’re all looking for the edge, whether in work or school and if you’re reading this you’ve likely either tried nootropics or are considering it. Here are five tips that can help optimize your nootropic experience.
1. Hydrate and Eat
When you’re hacking your brain with supplements sometimes you get some added effects you aren’t looking for. These side effects aren’t always bad but you should be aware of them. At times,
my nootropic stack dramatically increases my focus to the point that I forget to eat and even drink. I see two mechanisms at work, increased focus and reduced appetite and thirst. While intermittent fasting has been shown to improve cognition, the duration is best kept short and hydration during your study or work marathons must remain constant. Multiple studies (here and here) have shown that both mood and cognition suffer from dehydration amounts as low as 2% and less. Set a periodic alarm reminder on your phone or put a note where you can see it if that’s what it takes.
2. Get up and Walk Around
Our bodies were designed to move and sitting for long periods of time have been linked to blood clots and long term health issues. Make sure you get up every half hour even for just a few minutes to walk around. Walking and exercise also provide a variety of cognitive boosts you should be tapping in to as well.
In one study conducted by Stanford University, 81% of participants improved their creative output when walking.
In another study, Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, researched freshman high school students with who used standing desks. Testing was performed at the beginning and again at the end of their freshman year.
“Test results indicated that continued use of standing desks was associated with significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities,” Mehta said. “Changes in corresponding brain activation patterns were also observed.”
Movement will also increase your heart rate and increase your metabolism which on the onset of taking a nootropic will speed up its activation.
3. Fat Soluble Vs. Water Soluble
Like vitamins, nootropics fall into two broad categories; fat-soluble and water soluble. Piracetam is an example of a water soluble nootropic. If you add it to water it will dissolve quickly with minimal stirring. Aniracetam is an example of a fat soluble nootropic and will not dissolve in water. Fat soluble and water soluble substances are each absorbed differently and in different places in the body. There are many differences between the two categories to keep things simple: take fat soluble nootropics with a bit of fatty food, fish oil, coconut oil or grass fed butter to improve absorption.
4. Plan for Onset and Know Your Half-Life
Onset is how long it takes for a substance to have a noticeable effect. Onset always occurs before you reach the “peak”. Peak is when you’ve reached the maximum benefit a nootropic provides. Half-life is the amount of time it takes your body to eliminate half of the dosage from your blood. These times are important and vary from person to person. They can also be modified depending on if you take a nootropic on an empty stomach, after a heavy meal, with caffeine and a multitude of other small influencers. Learn how your body responds to each nootropic you have in your arsenal before you need them. If you’re counting on buffing your cognition for a test in a couple of weeks determine before hand how soon before the test you need to take them to hit your peak when testing. Lasting on the subject of timing, some nootropics can have a stimulating effect, if you plan to sleep and not pull an all-nighter make sure you know how long it takes for the effect to pass or you may find yourself counting a multitude of sheep with no sleep in site.
5. Take a Break Periodically
With many nootropics, if you take them daily for a long period of time you’ll develop tolerance. This means you’ll need to increase your dose to achieve the same peak effect. In the long run this isn’t something you can maintain so you’ll want to take time off and give your brain a chance to reset. In most cases, 3-5 days are sufficient to get back to your baseline and in some instances simply taking weekends off is enough.
Follow these five simple guidelines and see if your experience with cognitive hacking doesn’t take you just a little bit farther.