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 am going to go over the best supplements for studying.
This includes providing you with suggestions on how to build a custom stack with individual nootropics, and recommending some pre-made supplements I consider worth your money.
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 that 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 have researched nootropics, the more I have come to realize that they are 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 have 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 are coming face to face with a savage exam schedule.
Just for sake of clarity, these are the advantages I targeted:
- 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 will 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 – acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting mitochondria from damage, thereby increasing mental energy and fending off fatigue. Ginseng also prevents neurotransmitters from breaking down, enhancing cognitive function. Excellent for stress protection.
- 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 job as some of the ‘Top 10 Noots for School’.
If you decided to put together a custom nootropic stack, but couldn’t find certain ingredients, you should give these candidates some consideration.
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.
- Omega-3’s & 6’s – structural support nutrient used for brain cell reproduction. Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils improve neuroplasticity and provide neuroprotective effects. They can improve memory and learning ability. Decent substitute for PS in a pinch.
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 is best to be very 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 cautions about who should use them, and how.
If you are unsure about any of the nootropics I have mentioned, please do some research before using them. Better safe than sorry.
That being said, some of the nootropics I have suggested are found in certain foods, and could be worked into your study plan simply by changing your diet.
So let’s assume that you want to put together your own nootropic stack, because you want to customize it, or you are operating on a shoestring budget.
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
You may have a few weak points that you want to shore up as far as your ability to process information goes.
I recommend looking at the list above, and playing the matching game.
Just think of the main areas where you would like to improve your mental capacities, and match it to the appropriate nootropic listed above. Write them down.
Then you can work within your budget, and put together a shopping list for solo nootropics that you can track down to put together your own custom nootropic stack.
You can also include some of the more common nootropics into your diet.
Eating more fish and nuts can provide Omega-3’s & 6’s for your brain, and any decent over-the-counter supplement will give you some B-Vitamins for energy.
Everyone also has easy access to caffeine, which is sometimes overlooked because we see it every day. You can drink coffee or tea while you study.
A simple nootropic stack that is super popular among neurohackers is Caffeine with L-Theanine. Basically, these 2 nootropics make an awesome team.
L-Theanine smooths out the rough edges caffeine can have sometimes, while the caffeine provides you with the physical endurance and focus you need to get everything done.
You can easily pick up an L-Theanine supplement for about $20-$25 online, take it with your coffee or tea, and voila! You have a basic nootropic stack for super cheap!
Another cost effective option is using Ginko Biloba with Panax 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.
Ginkgo and Ginseng are both readily available, and affordable. 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 beat out your competition.
Best Supplements for Studying
The suggestions I offered above will help you, but only a little. They are easy, affordable solutions you can implement with very little effort or cost.
But if you really want to gain a competitive edge against your classmates, this is a list of options you should consider:
- Performance Lab Mind – $49
- Performance Lab Stim – $60
- Mind Lab Pro – $75
Performance Lab Mind is a nootropic stack that is best known for the value it can provide. I think it’s a really good option for students because they’re often operating on a limited budget.
It costs about $50/bottle, and it only has 4 ingredients in it that are targeted towards improving cognitive performance.
The nice thing about Performance Lab Mind is that it’s easy to stack with other individual nootropics if that’s the way you want to go.
PLM is also made by Opti-Nutra, the same company that makes Mind Lab Pro. Opti-Nutra has some of the highest standards for purity and effectiveness I’ve ever seen.
Long story short, Opti-Nutra makes very high quality supplements, so they’re very safe.
If you want to look at the L-Theanine & Caffeine combo a little more, there is a nootropic stack called Stim that I think is amazing.
Stim has L-Theanine, Caffeine, L-Tyrosine, and B-Vitamins pre-formulated for you. It costs about $60 a bottle, unless you buy bulk. That can knock the price down to about $45/bottle.
You can read more about Stim in my post on L-Theanine for social anxiety. It’s a little more expensive, but the results are worth it.
Third option. A really great nootropic stack for beginners is Mind Lab Pro. It covers all of your bases from improved focus, memory, energy, stress protection, and endurance.
Mind Lab Pro is a premium nootropic stack, and it’s considered a ‘Full-Spectrum’ nootropic supplement. I take it every day to manage my ADD.
It costs about $75 a bottle, but you can get the price down to about $55/bottle if you order in bulk. Mind Lab Pro is the best nootropic stack I am aware of on the market.
Obviously, if you choose to try Performance Lab Mind, Stim, or Mind Lab Pro, you should be in good shape to start hitting the books.
However, you can always use them as a base, and supplement with some of the other nootropics I mentioned.
There would be no harm, for example, in taking some Ginseng or Lion’s Mane Mushroom along with your Stim supplement to customize your stack.
You have the freedom to experiment with your formulation, just don’t go crazy and spend your college fund on pills. The nootropics can only do so much, anyway.
Sooner or later, you are going to have to do the work.
Best Strategies for Success
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 are feeling, and go from there.
You’ve got this!
I have tried my best in this article to educate you on the best supplements for studying.
In general, if you’re choosing to use nootropics instead of stimulants, I think you’re already making one of the smartest decisions possible.
If you are ever unsure about anything, please, do more research. And if you have any questions at all, please feel free to post them below, and I will get back to you right away.
The world of nootropics is a big one, and it’s getting bigger every day.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear from you soon.
In my next post, I’ll be looking at a new energy supplement offered as a drink powder. Feel free to give it a look.
Until next time.