Brain hacking is awesome. Now that you know how I feel about it let me explain. Hacking the brain means attempting to improve one or more of its functions. These functions may include memory, focus, clarity, reasoning, mood, and energy, and many other areas as well.
More often than not, the term hacking is viewed as something negative. In this case, however, that simply isn’t true.
There is nothing bad or unsafe about the practice of brain hacking. In fact, whether they know it or not, anyone playing a game of Sudoku is already in effect hacking their brain. Those types of games stimulate the mind and over the long run, are proven to give benefits like better memory and improved concentration power.
But, while puzzles and cognitive games can be very useful, neuroscience gives us much easier ways to improve our brains. Optimizing and getting the most out of your gray matter can be as easy as using a few well-chosen supplements.
These supplements are often called smart drugs or cognitive enhancers. The best part is that using them is just as safe and gives results a whole lot faster than playing Sudoku. I think that’s a very good thing. Wouldn’t you agree?
Brain Hacking Supplements
There are two broad categories of cognitive enhancement supplements: nootropics and stimulants. Here is how they compare.
When you’re looking to get the most out of your brain, nootropics are it. The term nootropic comes from the Greek language and means “mind-turning” or “mind-bending.” They are the most effective and commonly used nutritional supplements and have been developed specifically to improve neural functions in the brain.
Millions of users, myself including, use these cognitive enhancers to take our minds to new levels.
Nootropics have been around for over 50 years. The first, called piracetam, was developed in 1963. Piracetam is still often used to help improve memory formation, recall speed, focus, concentration, and attention spans.
But, as you can probably imagine, big advances have been made over the last five decades, and today, many more nootropics are available in the market.
There are several categories of nootropics. Piracetam belongs to and is the founding member of the racetam family. Other popular racetams include aniracetam, oxiracetam, and pramiracetam (notice how they all include “racetam” at the end of their names).
They are all very effective, but each can have slightly different potencies and effects on the brain.
For example, in addition to helping with memory, aniracetam is also known for reducing anxiety and stress. Oxiracetam, on the other hand, tends to help with spacial memory and logic. Pramiracetam, my favorite of the bunch, is a much more effective version of the original piracetam. Stacking pramiracetam with other nootropics can also greatly enhance their effects.
The other major nootropic families include Cholinergics (Choline sources), naturals (derived supplements) and Peptides.
And while on the subject of Peptides, no self-respecting overview of nootropics would be complete without mentioning what is probably the most famous cognitive enhancer of them all: Noopept. Thanks to Noopept’s many benefits and how quickly it takes effect, this is one supplement everyone should know.
When I was starting out with nootropics, all of this information seemed pretty intimidating. Trust me when I say that ultimately, it really isn’t.
The key is to start with the basics and build on them as you gain experience. Pick and use just one nootropic whose effects most closely line up with your brain hacking goals. Follow its suggested dosage exactly.
Then, once you get more comfortable with it, you can start tweaking. Play around with the dosage a bit (which is for the most part perfectly safe), or add (stack) other supplements to fine tune the benefits and find a balance that is perfect for you. You’ll be a brain hacking pro in no time.
A common tactic in brain hacking with nootropics is to use multiple supplements together in a process called stacking. This idea has been around forever in the world of weight training.
By mixing different compounds, you can gain a powerful synergistic effect that results in a much greater sum. The stacked nootropics can also be complementary to each other, with one supplement filling in any benefit holes another may have.
As great as stacking sounds, if you’re just starting out, I would not recommend jumping into it immediately. Play around with a few individual nootropics first. Any one from this list of brain enhancing supplements would be a good start.
Get a feel for how they function, and where they may be lacking. Once you’re a little more comfortable, you’ll be able to design a personalized stack that will let you hack your brain in any way you please.
As an alternative to putting together a stack yourself, you can also consider getting what is basically a pre-formulated nootropics stack in a box.
Of the many I tried over the years, the one that did the most for me is Opti-Nutra’s Mind Lab Pro. It’s an all-natural nootropic mix that brings together many compounds in one awesome brain hacking pill. It does an excellent job of improving memory, focus and mental speed, and can even reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Another great option is Onnit Labs’ Alpha Brain. Though its list of ingredients is slightly different than Mind Lab Pro’s, the cognitive effects it gives are very similar.
Unless you’re as obsessed as I am about finding the absolute perfect stack, have the time and are constantly willing to tweak things, either Mind Lab Pro or Alpha Brain may be something worth considering. Both are extremely safe and both will deliver results.
Stimulants are the last nootropics family about which all brain hackers should know. In addition to the usual cognitive enhancement properties like improved memory, concentration and focus, stimulants also promote wakefulness and alertness.
Those additional stimulating effects can be very helpful indeed. Being as sleep deprived as I am these days, it’s no secret that I’m a fan.
But, overuse of stimulants can lead to the development of tolerance to them. Therefore, (sadly) they should not be used as an everyday, but instead only occasionally.
If you do end up with a tolerance to a stimulant, it may take as long as several months of not using it to reset your body and bring the tolerance back down to initial levels.
Of all stimulants, modafinil is probably the best know and by far the most popular. Its long list of accomplishments includes improvements to mood, memory, learning abilities, focus and clear thinking.
Being a stimulant, it also, of course, promotes alertness and wakefulness.
Theoretically, in the US and most countries around the world, modafinil can only be bought with a prescription. In practice, if it is something you’re really interested in, you can just get modafinil online without one. I do it, and so do brain hackers everywhere.
Modafinil also has a slightly less famous cousin called adrafinil. Being as similar to modafinil as it gets (with a few notable differences), adrafinil’s benefits can make it an excellent alternative.
How Will You Hack Your Brain?
With so many tools available, hacking your brain and increasing its power can be quick, easy, safe and extremely effective. Everyone can benefit from it, from the student burning the midnight oil, to the bus driver fighting downtown gridlock, to the professional football player trying to stay sharp and focused on the field.
It’s incredible how much more potential our brains have and how easily we can unlock it.