Caffeine fuels the world’s productivity.
Over a billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world each day, making coffee the second most traded commodity in the world.
It’s only second to oil.
As oil is the fuel for industry, coffee is the fuel or human productivity.
Modafinil is a much newer compound compared to caffeine but is very similar in its effects.
If coffee is 91 octane gasoline, modafinil is jet fuel.
Can caffeine and modafinil be mixed? How can I ensure I’m doing it safely? Keep reading to find out.
What is Modafinil?
Modafinil has a similar effect to caffeine — only much stronger.
It’s considered a stimulant and a eugeroic (something that promotes wakefulness).
People take modafinil to fight fatigue and boost overall productivity at work or school. It’s used to improve focus and concentration by increasing dopamine levels in the brain.
Students, business executives, and creatives use it to get through tough or tedious projects and lengthen available working hours by delaying sleepiness.
Modafinil vs. Caffeine
Although there are a lot of similarities between caffeine and modafinil, there are also a lot of differences.
The brain functions through a complex series of chemical reactions and electrical impulses. They interact with each other to drive everything from homeostasis (internal climate control) to imagination & memory.
Adding to the complexity, there are many different neurotransmitters, enzyme reactions, and other factors that can be used to change the brain’s functionality.
The brain and the rest of the nervous system essentially have two different halves; the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Two Competing Sides to the Nervous System
A) The SNS: Stimulation
The SNS is responsible for stimulating the body and the mind.
It’s used to make us feel awake during the day and heightens our physical ability when we need it to get through challenging or stressful situations.
B) The PNS: Relaxation
The PNS is used to stop the effects of the SNS.
It’s used to put the body in a state of relaxation and makes us feel tired at night. It also helps us return to normal after experiencing stress.
The PNS also works to increase recovery body functions like digestion and immune function.
Modafinil & Caffeine Both Work Through The SNS
Modafinil & caffeine are both considered stimulants because they produce most of their effects on the neurotransmitters that are involved with the SNS.
By increasing the SNS, we’re activating parts of the brain that make us feel awake. It can also cause changes to nerve transmission rates. With faster nerve signals, we can make more calculations per second, leading to faster reaction times, and improved decision-making capacity.
Modafinil & caffeine are different from each other in how they stimulate the SNS.
Caffeine “Inhibits” Sleepiness
The caffeine molecule works by blocking the effects of a compound called adenosine.
Adenosine builds up naturally throughout the day. It’s a byproduct of healthy nerve function.
As adenosine levels rise, they start to slow down the nerve cells. It adds a delay to make them fire slower. This is designed to make us feel sleepy at the end of a long day.
Caffeine works by occupying the receptor that accepts the adenosine molecules, therefore stopping effects of adenosine.
Caffeine Increases The Stress Response
Caffeine also binds and activates to our adrenaline receptors. This causes the stress response process, thus activating the SNS.
The strength of caffeine on these receptors is fairly low compared to our built-in stress modulating hormone, cortisol, but is enough to produce noticeable results.
This is partly why we can feel jittery and anxious when we drink too much coffee. What we’re essentially experiencing is a “stressful situation”— physiologically speaking.
Modafinil Modulates The Sleep-Wake Cycle
We have a biological clock in the body, calibrated by routine and daylight exposure.
It involves a careful balance of hormones and neurotransmitters (mainly cortisol and melatonin) that make us feel awake in the morning and tired at night.
Modafinil overrides this system to make us feel awake.
It works by stimulating a compound called orexin, which is used to carry out “wakefulness” sensations triggered by the SNS.
Modafinil Increases Dopamine
Dopamine is one of the main neurotransmitters in the brain. It’s used to regulate mood, sexual function, hormone production, the reward center, punishment, and concentration.
Modafinil has the additional benefit over caffeine in its ability to increase dopamine levels. This makes it much better as a wakefulness-promoting medication with the aim of increasing productivity at work or school.
Do Caffeine & Modafinil Mix?
Caffeine and modafinil can be mixed, but with some cautions.
Whenever mixing two of the same class of drugs, you risk increased chances of side effects. This is because the effects may be additive. This means that they build on each other to improve the overall effects.
Same Effects, Different Mechanisms
With that aside, it’s also advantageous to mix the two because although they produce the same effects, they have different mechanisms from one another.
This allows the mix to have a broader benefit on wakefulness than either compound alone.
Some people who are tired because of adenosine, won’t find the same level of improvement with modafinil as they will with caffeine.
On the other hand, people who are tired due to their sleep-wake cycle are not going to find nearly as many improvements using only caffeine as they will with modafinil.
This is why many people choose to mix caffeine and modafinil.
How to Mix Caffeine With Modafinil
There are two ways you can mix caffeine with modafinil;
1. Mixing Coffee or Tea With Modafinil
Coffee is likely the most popular way caffeine is combined with modafinil.
This is the most common form of the compound and is easy to source.
An average cup of coffee will contain roughly 100 mg of caffeine. Since it takes about 6 hours for caffeine to pass through the system, it’s recommended that you consume a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine every 6 hours, or 100 mg every 3 hours.
This would mean having about one coffee every 3 hours.
B) Green, Oolong, or Black Tea
Tea is another way of getting caffeine but comes with some downfalls.
There’s plenty of caffeine in tea. However, caffeine has poor solubility in water. This means that you will need to steep the leaves for a long period of time and use boiling water to get the right amount of caffeine into your cup.
Unlike coffee, hot temperatures can dramatically change the flavor of tea. In higher temperatures and longer extraction times, more of the undesired, bitter principles in the tea plant are extracted into the brew.
This means that in order to get enough caffeine into your tea, you need to over brew it, which doesn’t taste very good.
If using tea as a source of caffeine, make sure the brew is steeped for a long time (over 5 minutes). A 250mL cup of tea will contain about 27 mg of caffeine. If you aim for the 200mg dose every 6 hours, you can have a maximum of about 1 cup of tea every hour.
C) Yerba Maté
Another excellent option for caffeine is to drink a South American herbal tea known as Yerba Maté.
Yerba Maté is a large tree with leaves high in caffeine and other related alkaloids.
One of the best things about yerba maté is that it tends to have fewer side effects than other caffeine-containing herbs. This is mainly due to the presence of a similar alkaloid known as theobromine. This is the same compound that makes chocolate stimulating.
Theobromine has similar effects to caffeine regarding its stimulating benefits but offers some additional effects that negate most of the undesired side effects of caffeine. It prevents spikes in blood pressure and lowers anxiety and jitteriness.
A cup (250 mL) of yerba maté tea contains about 30 mg of caffeine.
2. Taking Caffeine Pills or Powder With Modafinil
Caffeine pills are another great way of mixing caffeine with modafinil.
Pills or powders allow you to make precise doses of your caffeine. This allows you to minimize the chances of developing side effects and make it easy to really “dial in” the combination.
Caffeine pills often come in a variety of different doses, including 15, 50, 100, and 200 mg.
We recommend aiming for about 100 mg every 3-6 hours when mixing caffeine pills with Modafinil.
Remember These 3 Things Whenever Mixing Modafinil With Caffeine
Whether you’re mixing modafinil with coffee, tea, or caffeine pills, there are some important things to remember when mixing.
1. Get The Timing Right
Although caffeine can be taken at any point in the day when mixing with modafinil if you time it properly you can get a lot more from the combination.
As mentioned, caffeine works best when adenosine has started to build up in the brain. This happens as a byproduct of normal nerve function.
Therefore, caffeine will have the most to offer later in the day after adenosine has started to build up in the brain.
Most people who mix caffeine and modafinil will take their modafinil early in the morning as usual— along with a small coffee or low dose caffeine pill (up to 100 mg). Then another dose later in the afternoon when adenosine starts to build up.
2. Dial It In
Everyone is different, and therefore the effects of any given drug, and any particular combination will be different from one person to the next.
We can offer guidelines to get you started with dosing and mixing. This should always be tweaked depending on how this affects your body in particular.
If you start with the 100 mg caffeine and 200 mg modafinil combination and find it to be too stimulating, take a smaller dose next time, or space them out even further.
Perhaps try 50mg of caffeine with your 200 mg modafinil instead.
Remember, the goal isn’t to be as awake as possible; it’s to make you more productive and ward off fatigue so you can get more done.
3. Know How To Manage Anxiety
The most common side effect of this combination is anxiety. This is because it’s one of the main side effects of both of these drugs.
Although the chances of developing anxiety can be reduced, it may still arise from time to time when taking modafinil, and especially when mixing other stimulants with modafinil.
It’s useful to know how to manage and/or prevent it from happening in the first place.
Anxiety is a direct representation of an overactive nervous system (SNS specifically). Therefore, the best way to address the issue is to increase the opposing side of the nervous system, the PNS.
The PNS is involved with most of our involuntary body systems (meaning that we don’t have conscious control over them). This includes our heart rate, immune function, digestive function, and respiratory rate.
Out of all of these systems, the only one we have control over is the respiration rate. It’s both voluntary AND involuntary.
Think about it, if you don’t concentrate on your breathing, you do it automatically, but if you think about it, you can also control your exact respiration rate.
Controlling our breath rate is the best way to take manual control of the PNS.
To do this, you merely need to take slowed, rhythmic breaths. One breath every 6 or 7 seconds.
This simple process has been shown to be the key factor in practices like meditation that put us into a state of calm and clear focus.
There is a whole field of study on this called “heart rate variability.” It involves measuring the changes in heart rate to measure the activity of the PNS.
This is by FAR the simplest and most effective way of managing anxiety on modafinil and caffeine.
Is Mixing Caffeine & Modafinil Safe?
Combining caffeine and modafinil is common practice. The biggest issue with the combination comes from the side effects that are common to both compounds.
There may also be some interactions in the liver, slowing down its ability to detox effectively.
There’s an Increased Risk of Side Effects
Since both compounds offer stimulating effect directly on the central nervous system, it is easy to cause hyperstimulation. The side effects of this are anxiety, insomnia, jitteriness, heart palpitations, and muscle tremors.
If you already suffer from any of these side effects on a regular basis, the combination may not be for you.
It Can Cause Metabolism/Detoxification Problems
All drugs must be metabolized (detoxed) by the liver before it can be excreted from the body in the urine or through the intestinal tract.
Modafinil and caffeine share one of the same pathways of metabolism (CYP3A4). In most people, this isn’t an issue since the body will usually adapt and increase the liver’s filtering capacity.
However, sometimes, the body is unable to increase its metabolizing/detoxing power, causing a buildup of chemicals waiting to go through the process.
This would cause caffeine and modafinil to remain in the bloodstream for longer. As long as you aren’t combining these two compounds every day, this wouldn’t be much of a problem.
However, if you’re taking modafinil & caffeine every day, concentrations can begin to rise to unsafe levels over time.
To avoid this, it’s recommended that you take at least one day off each week from both substances. This would allow any of the compounds that are lingering in the bloodstream to be eliminated safely.
When to Avoid Mixing Modafinil & Caffeine
If you suffer from any cardiovascular disease, or other conditions like Addison’s disease, Hashimoto’s, or Graves disease, it’s recommended that you avoid modafinil, AND caffeine completely.
Any failures in drug metabolism (liver problems), excretion (kidney and liver/gallbladder issues), or central nervous system issues (like anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, or Epilepsy) can be problematic when using caffeine and modafinil.
Another nootropic like alpha-GPC, vinpocetine, or L-Theanine may be a better option for these individuals.
Where to Buy Modafinil
Modafinil can be bought at your local pharmacy with a valid doctors prescription. It can also be purchased online quite easily without a prescription.
Buying modafinil online is also the best way to buy generic versions of the drug, which can save them thousands of dollars per year.
Generic pills contain the exact same active ingredients and dosages, but cost far less than the expensive brand-name versions like Provigil® and Nuvigil®.