Studying for exams is extremely stressful, and the super competitive nature of academics only adds to the pressure.
It’s no wonder college campuses are being flooded with black market study drugs.
Adderall in particular is being used by students without a prescription, and they are quickly discovering how brutal a stimulant crash can feel.
In this article, I’m going to go over the best supplements for studying.
I’ll provide you with my top 10 solo nootropics, and let you know about the 3 best pre-made supplements on the market.
I know you may be under a lot of pressure to get your grades up, but resorting to using Adderall is not the best solution.
There are better options available that are safer, and just as effective.
So without further ado, let’s go over your options, shall we?
Nootropics vs Adderall – What’s the Difference?
First of all, you need to know that my doctor gave me a prescription for Adderall about a year ago, and when I took it, I hated it.
Adderall is, “a controlled substance with high potential for abuse“.
It’s composed of several amphetamine salts, and it basically jacks up your central nervous system to its’ maximum capacity.
Not only that, but it raises your heart rate, and constricts your blood vessels. When you take this stuff, some of the possible side effects are:
- Fever/Cold Chills
- Cardiac Arrhythmia/Cardiac Arrest
The only reason I took dextrose amphetamine is because I have low grade ADHD. Adderall is commonly prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy.
I am actually kind of scared of prescription medications. I don’t really trust them. When I look at the list of possible side effects for most drugs, I get freaked out.
And when I started taking Adderall for my ADHD, I was thirsty all the time, and felt dizzy.
Not only that, but when the effects wore off, I was very aggressive with my family.
Yes, I was able to perform better at work, but at what cost?
Then I had a friend tell me he was taking a nootropic supplement so he could crush his competition at work, and he suggested I consider them as an alternative.
Long story short, I found nootropics to be a much better solution for my situation. It wasn’t long before I told my doctor that I didn’t need Adderall any more.
It’s an appropriate treatment plan for me because I have ADD, which is lower on the ADHD spectrum, and I have to perform well at work.
Anyway, what I wanted you to take away from all of this is the fact that I know exactly what I am talking about when it comes to the risks of taking Adderall.
And no matter what the benefits, whether it’s for school or work, there are better alternatives available.
The more I’ve researched nootropics, the more I’ve come to realize that they’re much more like a vitamin supplement than drugs.
I know that may seem confusing when you hear names like L-Theanine thrown around, but most nootropic compounds are naturally occurring in foods.
Taking them is just like taking extra B Vitamins or Vitamin D because we don’t get enough of them from our daily diet.
And a lot of nootropics are natural herbs or herbal extracts.
So which would you rather use to improve your cognitive performance? A psychostimulant like Adderall, or nootropics?
I think the smart choice is abundantly clear, don’t you?
So now that I’ve stated my case for nootropics versus hard core stimulants, let’s look at what they can do for us.
The ‘Top 10 “Noots” for School’
These are my favorite nootropics for studying, because they help provide the benefits you really need most when you’re face to face with a savage exam schedule.
Just for the sake of clarity, these are the advantages I think you need the most:
- Improved Focus
- Better Memory
- Stress Relief
- Enhanced Mental Energy
- Greater Physical Endurance
The ability to focus is key to success at exam time because you’ll have to use your time wisely, and prioritize your tasks.
Memory enhancement is also crucial for quickly encoding data, and then accurately recalling it on exam day.
Anxiety levels need to be kept in check so you can effectively establish flow states, and ‘get into the zone’.
Mental energy has to be accelerated to improve reaction times when analyzing and answering questions.
Last but not least, physical endurance needs to be augmented to allow you to keep going during those brutal cram sessions.
You also don’t want to run out of steam on exam day.
With all that in mind, this is my roster, with a brief description of the strengths of each nootropic:
- Bacopa Monnieri – best known for its’ ability to enhance short-term memory, and improve mental flexibility. Bacopa also helps control stress, acts as an antioxidant, vasodilator, and prevents the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from breaking down.
- Caffeine – improves alertness, focus, memory, reaction times, mood, and augments physical endurance. Caffeine increases the efficiency of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, thereby enhancing cognitive function.
- CDP Choline – provides 2 important nutrients to the brain; choline and cytidine.
- Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, the first neurotransmitter ever discovered. It improves focus, memory, learning ability, motivation, and alleviates fatigue.
- Cytidine is a precursor to uridine, which aids in the repair and maintenance of brain cell membranes. Improves mental energy and multitasking ability.
- Ginkgo Biloba – increases blood flow to the brain, is excellent for improving memory, and has antioxidant properties. Ginkgo is also very good for reducing anxiety, heightened alertness, and faster reaction times.
- Ginseng – best known as an adaptogen for stress protection, ginseng also acts as a powerful antioxidant. Ginseng protects mitochondria from damage, thereby increasing mental energy and fending off fatigue. Optimizes several neurotransmitters for better cognition.
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom – best known for its’ capacity to encourage neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain cells. Lion’s Mane improves memory, neuroplasticity, and learning ability. Drastically improves the capacity to maintain or shift focus.
- L-Theanine – promotes alertness and relaxation at the same time. L-Theanine slows down the nervous system, encouraging an alpha brain wave state, which is very beneficial for creativity and regulation of stress responses.
- L-Tyrosine – enhances short-term, or working memory. L-Tyrosine is renowned for its’ ability to improve multitasking ability, quick recall, executive function, and creativity. Excellent for stress management.
- Phosphatidylserine(PS) – functional support ingredient that is used in brain cell replication. PS is amazing at improving memory, focus, and overall cognitive function. It enhances glucose metabolism in the brain, thereby increasing overall brain activity.
- Rhodiola Rosea – an adaptogen that increases both mental energy and physical stamina. Rhodiola provides stress protection, and prevents the breakdown of neurotransmitters, thereby improving memory, focus, multitasking ability, and work capacity.
So there you have it! These are the 10 best stand alone nootropics for those brutal all-nighters!
However, I should mention that there are a few nootropics that I still think are great for studying, but do the same thing as some of the “Top 10 ‘Noots’ for School”.
I just wanted to give them a brief nod so you know they’re also good options for you.
Top 5 Honorable Mentions
- Ashwagandha – promotes a relaxed state of focused concentration. Ashwagandha blocks the release of the stress hormone cortisol, and prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. A good substitute for bacopa monnieri, ginseng, or rhodiola rosea.
- B-Vitamins – facilitate energy metabolism by acting as catalysts in enzymatic reactions. Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 have been shown to be crucial to DNA/RNA synthesis, as well as neurotransmitters and myelin for healthy nerve function.
- Noopept – increases both Nerve Growth Factor(NGF), and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor(BDNF), which encourages the growth of new brain cells. Noopept improves learning ability, memory, and focus. A decent alternative to Lion’s Mane mushroom.
- Oat Straw Extract – prevents the breakdown of the neurotransmitter dopamine, thereby improving cognition and mood. Oat straw extract also increases cerebral blood flow, and encourages alpha brain wave states. Effective replacement for L-Theanine.
- Uridine – encourages faster reproduction of brain cells, as well as the growth of dendrites between neurons for greater neuroplasticity. Uridine is excellent for improved learning, reasoning, memory, and mental flexibility.
OK. So we’ve gone over all the best nootropics to breeze through your finals.
Now we need to consider who can take them safely, and how to use them properly.
Who Should or Shouldn’t use Nootropics?
This post is really targeted towards college students that are 18 and older.
The brain is still developing until age 18, so it’s best to be cautious with nootropics if you’re a younger individual.
Although the nootropics I’ve recommended are definitely safer than Adderall, if you have special health concerns, please use common sense and talk to your doctor first.
There are also links in the descriptions above that will take you to detailed articles on each nootropic.
There are dosage notes and other tips on how to use them safely, but they’re really just guidelines.
If you’re unsure about any of the nootropics I’ve mentioned, do more research before using them. Better safe than sorry.
How many ingredients can you have in a basic stack? What are some good combinations?
Let’s take a look.
How to Build your Custom Stack – Tips & Tricks
A simple nootropic stack that’s super popular among neuro-hackers is caffeine and L-Theanine.
L-Theanine smooths out the rough edges of the caffeine, while the caffeine provides more physical endurance than L-Theanine could on its’ own.
You can easily pick up an L-Theanine supplement for about $20-$25, and take it with your coffee or tea while you study.
Another cost effective option is using ginko biloba with some ginseng. I used this combination all the time when I was in college.
One study showed a 7.5% increase in both short-term and long term memory during a 12 week period using only these 2 nootropics.
A bottle of each should carry you through your exams, and give you an extra boost in mental energy and memory capacity.
Those are the simple, low cost solutions I can offer you.
Now let’s look at what to do if you want to get really serious about using nootropics to gain a competitive edge…
Best Supplements for Studying
The solo nootropics I mentioned above will help you, but putting together your own stack can be inconvenient and time consuming.
If you want to look at some pre-made supplements that are effective yet affordable, these are my top choices for you:
- Performance Lab Mind – $36.75/box
- Performance Lab Stim – $29.25/box
- Performance Lab Energy – $36.75/box
The first thing you need to know is that all 3 of these supplements are made by a company called Opti-Nutra.
Opti-Nutra makes some of the best nootropics in the World, including my favorite nootropic stack; Mind Lab Pro.
Long story short, their products are very safe, clean, and effective. Their formulations are also top notch.
Performance Lab Mind was purposely designed for custom stacking. It only has 4 ingredients, but they support each other very well.
PLM is a complete stack on its’ own, but you can easily combine it with your favorite solo nootropics to meet specific goals.
Performance Lab Stim uses the tried-and-true caffeine and theanine combination I mentioned earlier.
It also has several B vitamins for energy, and tyrosine to optimize neurotransmitter levels.
Please note that both PL Mind and PL Stim have tyrosine in them, so they’re not meant to be taken together.
Performance Lab Energy is a great stack engineered to provide clean energy by nourishing mitochondria and facilitating new brain cell growth.
The ingredients in PL Energy are completely different from those in PL Mind and PL Stim, so you could take it with either one of them together if you wished.
So that’s a basic run through of the best pre-made supplements for students on a shoestring.
Let’s wrap things up, shall we?
Nootropics for Studying – Final Recommendations
What are my parting words for you?
Work within your comfort zone, and your budget.
The goal is to improve your performance at school, and you don’t want to sabotage yourself.
Just make sure you stay in tune with how you’re feeling, and go from there.
You’ve got this!
If you’re choosing to use nootropics instead of stimulants, you’ve already made one of the smartest decisions possible.
I encourage you to do as much research as possible. Know what you’re taking, and why.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or comments, please post them below.
I’ll get back to you right away.
In my next post, I’ll be looking at a new energy supplement offered as a drink powder. Feel free to check it out.
See you there!