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Stimulants to Stay Awake

Question

I have a real issue with staying awake during the day, and its not because of lack of sleep. What are some good stimulants I can use to stay awake during work hours? I’ve been using ephedrine, caffeine and more and more of it but its not working anymore.

Answer

Using stimulants to stay awake is never a good idea, and it’s particularly troubling that you’re doing so while getting adequate sleep. Besides, as you’re finding out the hard way – they eventually stop working, especially as you take more and more of them. So here’s what I’d do…

First, see a doctor. Daytime sleepiness isn’t normal, especially in the face of adequate sleep. Speaking of which, I’d get a sleep study done too given what some people think of as adequate sleep – really isn’t. You won’t really know unless its accurately tracked, and a proper sleep study is sometimes necessary. You might gain some insight by using a FitBit or like app, so use that if your insurance won’t cover it or worse, you don’t have any insurance.

Narcolepsy & Cataplexy

But let’s assume you are getting adequate rest and sleep, yet you’re still nodding off during the day. It may be that you have a condition called narcolepsy, or the sudden loss of consciousness during the day. You can fall asleep for a few minutes to half an hour. And if that isn’t scary enough, there’s a condition called cataplexy which can cause a number of physical changes from slurred speech to complete weakness of most muscles.

Cataplexy is uncontrollable and is triggered by intense emotions, usually positive ones such as laughter or excitement, but sometimes fear, surprise or anger. For example, when you laugh, your head may droop uncontrollably or your knees may suddenly buckle. Some people with narcolepsy experience only one or two episodes of cataplexy a year, while others have numerous episodes daily. Pretty scary stuff.

Treatment Options

Most physicians will tell you there’s no cure for narcolepsy, and that may be true. But it would seem to me there are at least ways of treating its symptoms. And you needn’t be hopped up on stimulants all day just to address it.

Modafinil

Modafinil is a non-stimulating medication prescribed to increase alertness and awareness. It was originally created with US Military funding, given its pilots on trans-Atlantic flights in cramped fighter cockpits didn’t respond very well to traditional stimulants. If you’ve ever sat in an F-16, you understand exactly what I’m talking about. For your typical 225lb bodybuilder, it’s a REAL tight squeeze – never mind if you’re bigger. Like, almost as bad as MRI tight.

Modafinil is only available with your Dr’s prescription, being a schedule IV drug. Having said that, I’m sure customs has better things to do than go after people that just want to feel more alert, or at least I would hope. It’s not a stimulant, instead you just have a feeling of being wide awake and the focus is quite noticeable as well.

The good news is that while Modafinil is a controlled substance, Adrafiinil is not. Being the precursor to Modafinil, it just takes longer to kick in – around 45 minutes in most cases. For reasons unknown to me, it’s also much harder on the liver, so I’d include NAC or TUDCA for liver protection while using it. 600 – 1200mg/day seems to be what works best for most, so if going that route I’d start at 600 and graduate up in increments of 300mg (most capsules are 300mg, or at least the ones I’ve seen and tried).

Otherwise, my heart really goes out to you. I can’t imagine what a terrible condition this really is, and how it must affect your day to day life. Best of luck to you, and I hope some of my recommendations help.

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Coach Rob Regish

Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to Superhumanradio.net for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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