When looking for the most powerful smart drugs on the modern market, many consumers keep comparing new alternatives with older nootropics. When comparing Ritalin and Modafinil, the first thing to learn is that these are well-known central nervous system stimulants. They’ve been taken by many people all over the world because of excellent results in boosting productivity and wakefulness. Sometimes, consumers even use both drugs to achieve their combined effect. How to choose the best one? Keep reading to find out more about the differences between Ritalin and Modafinil and their similarities to determine a better option for you.
Why Are Smart Drugs So Popular?
There are different reasons why people decide to start taking smart drugs, including:
- Improving efficiency in studies;
- Boosting overall performance at work;
- Performing at higher levels athletically;
- Increasing reaction times for e-sports events or competitions;
- Treating such cognitive disorders as ADHD or narcolepsy.
The intake of smart drugs provides people with many benefits in the workplace. They let employees do their job longer, better, and faster than usual. It’s no wonder more and more consumers are taking them outside of prescribed uses. Consider smart drugs if you want to land new deals for the company, score higher on college tests, beat your competitors, or complete any task in record times.
Ritalin and Modafinil Make Users More Alert
Modafinil and Ritalin are drugs that increase productivity significantly. They work by forcing the brain to work better when it wants to turn off, thus enabling people to stay vigilant on boring or tedious tasks that they’ve been working for a long time. In most cases, the brain becomes fatigued and slow after working for many hours. When it happens, your efficiency at completing different tasks starts diminishing. There are many reasons for brain fatigue, including:
- Declining norepinephrine levels (feeling less alert);
- Building up adenosine in the brain (neurons start firing slower);
- Dropping acetylcholine levels (it becomes more difficult to retrieve and store memories);
- Diminishing dopamine levels (attention spans start disintegrating);
- Histamine is used up (it’s harder to stay vigilant on urgent tasks).
For example, when neurons start firing slower, it takes longer for the brain to transmit the same amount of information each second. When neurotransmitter levels start declining, you’ll experience a significant drop in memory and attention spans.
How Do Ritalin and Modafinil Work?
Both smart drugs have similar effects on the brain because they are targeted at increasing the feeling of being awake and alert. Ritalin and Modafinil are potent central nervous system stimulants, and it means that their intake forces the brain to work better. However, the main difference is that they use different mechanisms to achieve this goal.
The Mechanism of Action of Ritalin
Ritalin is the brain name of methylphenidate, and its key benefit is to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Its intake is useful because dopamine is one of the most important neurotransmitters involved with concentration and focus. How does it work?
This medication blocks 50% of DATs (dopamine transporters) in the brain. Their basic task is to move dopamine into neurons after being released. After being transported, dopamine is broken down into individual parts that can be reused elsewhere. The effects of Ritalin are excellent for enhancing extracellular dopamine in the basal ganglia (a special area in the brain). However, it may damage this area over time.
This smart drug boosts the dopamine amount in synapses by inhibiting dopamine transports, thus allowing users to focus on their tasks more easily. That’s why its intake us very helpful for treating ADHD and ADD because patients with these conditions have lower dopamine amounts. Dopamine is also important for the reward center in the brain. When its levels are very low, the brain must work harder to stimulate its functions, thus causing low attention symptoms. Low dopamine levels also lead to:
- Learning disabilities;
- Frustration or fidgety behavior;
- Inability to focus on tasks for a long period of time.
What Are Available Ritalin Forms?
Both Ritalin and Modafinil are available in two chemical forms known as enantiomers. Modafinil comes as S-modafinil and R-modafinil, while Ritalin is available as l-threo-methylphenidate and d-threo-methylphenidate.
What are enantiomers? These are compounds with the same structure, but they’re mirror images of one another. Some compounds have similar enantiomers, while others (such as Ritalin) had big differences in them. Only the use of -threo-methylphenidate can block dopamine receptors in the brain.
What Is a Common Ritalin Dose?
The dose of this smart drug may vary considerably, but most patients take 20-30 mg per day. Some people need less (10 mg per day), while others need more (up to 60 mg per day). The right dosage of Ritalin depends on several important factors, including individual tolerance, side effects, and weight. Doctors usually prescribe it in smaller doses that can be increased when needed.
Unlike Modafinil, Ritalin effects don’t last for the whole day. That’s why you need multiple doses every few hours to maintain them. Most people take this medication 2-3 times per day. When it comes to Ritalin extended-release versions, they should be taken only one per day.
How long does Ritalin last? In most cases, its effects last for about 3 hours, but extended-release versions may last up to 8 hours. Its peak concentration is reached 60-90 minutes after its intake. After 3 hours of productivity, most users need to take another dose.
Ritalin Side Effects
Just like all drugs, the intake of Ritalin may cause certain side effects. Most of them are shared by other stimulants, including Modafinil. They all are categorized as mild and severe. The most common side effects include weight loss, insomnia, and headaches.
Mild side effects include:
- Loss of appetite or nausea;
- Unusual mood changes;
- Stomach pain.
Severe side effects include:
- Muscle twitches or seizures;
- Chest pain or dizziness;
- Difficult breathing or visual disturbances;
- Unusual aggression or paranoia;
- Painful erections.
The Mechanism of Action of Modafinil
Like Ritalin, Modafinil is a popular central nervous system stimulant. It also works by inhibiting dopamine transporters and boosting its levels in the brain. The main difference from Ritalin is that Modafinil provides extra benefits to other brain areas, including norepinephrine reuptake and orexin pathway, instead of targeting its effects only on dopamine.
What is orexin? It’s a neuropeptide that carries out the effects of wakefulness in the sleep-wake cycle (it makes people feel tired at night and awake during the day). It’s based on habits and natural rhythm. For example, when the sun goes down, orexin stimulates a sleeping side.
The intake of Modafinil overrides this cycle by stimulating its waking portion by releasing orexin from the hypothalamus and telling the brain to wake up. It leads to a state of hypervigilance even when people should be tired, thus allowing them to work better and longer. Doctors often prescribe Modafinil to treat the conditions that involve excessive sleepiness, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, narcolepsy, or multiple sclerosis.
What Are Its Available Forms?
As you already know, Modafinil has two forms, just like Ritalin, and these are S-modafinil and R-modafinil. There are many generic and brand name options available on the modern market. Another different of Modafinil from Ritalin is that its positive effects stay for up to 18 hours. It’s enough to take it once a day to experience a significant boost in performance.
What are Its Side Effects?
Modafinil shared many similar side effects with central nervous stimulants, including Ritalin. They can be mild and severe. When it comes to its mild side effects, they include the following:
- Insomnia or anxiety;
- Dry mouth or headaches;
- Diarrhea or poor appetite;
- Fast heartbeat.
The severe side effects caused by Modafinil include:
- Chest pain or fever;
- Severe depression or mood disturbances;
- Heart palpitations or hallucinations;
- Severe skin reactions.
Is It Possible to Combine Both Drugs?
Some consumers combine Ritalin and Modafinil to experience the benefits of both smart drugs. When completing challenging tasks at work or school, people want to have a better concentration (Ritalin effects) and be more awake (Modafinil effects). That’s why they combine both medications. However, this combination affects people differently. Some of them experience a boost in concentration when preparing for exams, but it made it harder to pass exams. Others find this combination excellent for their focus, but it can lead to lower memory recall. If you want to give it a try, you should do some careful self-experimentation start with lower doses to see how it affects your overall performance and productivity.
How Do Ritalin and Modafinil Compare?
Both smart drugs are taken by people to treat the same conditions, but they have slightly different effects. Ritalin effects are focused on dopamine, while Modafinil effects are targeted at wakefulness. Overall, Modafinil is better if you want to stimulate your wakefulness, while Ritalin is more beneficial for increasing dopamine levels. When it comes to the duration of their positive effects, Modafinil lasts longer than Ritalin.