Does Modafinil Help With Lucid Dreaming?
Some people are bound to wonder about this. Modafinil, and the the R-Enantiomer of Modafinil, Armodafinil (or R-Modafinil) are becoming of huge interest to those seeking a step-up in their mental game. Modafinil and Armodafinil, known as Provigil and Nuvigil, respectively, (or as various generic names including Modalert and Waklert, also respectively) are in a special class of drugs known as eugeroics - they promote or enhance wakefulness without the physically stimulating properties of drugs like caffeine, amphetamine, and cocaine. In the US Modafinil and its siblings are prescription drugs only approved for treating sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and shift work sleep disorder. However, off-label use is not uncommon. The FDA failed to pass Modafinil as a treatment for jet-lag, which would have made it the first drug prescribed for this condition. The FDA has not approved Modafinil for use by children due to two participants in the trial study developing a serious skin rash (either Erythema multiforme or Stevens-Johnson syndrome).
Modafinil has been the secret-weapon for executives, entrepreneurs, coders, and others who need to stay awake and alert for long spans of time. The US government has been experimenting with giving Modafinil to fighter pilots and perhaps other soldiers. Although not approved for this use and not recommended to be used by children for any reason, Modafinil may help sufferers of ADHD. In the future (and currently in other countries outside of the US) Modafinil and Armodafinil may be increasingly used to treat depression, bipolar disorder, opiate and cocaine dependence, schizophrenia, Parkinson's, and fatigue manifesting from various sources.
Before we get into lucid dreaming let's mention that some people swear that no drug is as useful and powerful at increasing motivation and task-stickiness than Modafinil. Although only a slight body-high or euphoria may be perceivable with Modafinil, the mind is endowed with an incredible amount of useful energy. The exact mechanisms for how the mind and body are affected by Modafinil are not well understood. But the claim is: With an unusually low abuse potential and rare incidence of side-effects, people's lives are being changed by this wonder drug. When looking at Modafinil reviews on drugs.com and various forums and message boards, it is easy to find users who's lives were profoundly changed. From not being able to get up and face the day, sometimes for years at a time, after being prescribed Modafinil To-Do lists are being checked off at fantastic speed. Can this be true?
Ever since the movie Limitless starring Bradley Cooper came out, people have wondered "is the Limitless drug real?" Limitless, based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, portrayed a nearly hopeless-case author and how his life is immediately transformed when he is given "the clear pill;" the limitless drug name is NZT-48. This NZT drug, the limitless pill, gives Cooper's character - Eddie Morra - cognitive powers far beyond what most people ever dream of. Eddie has access to seemingly every memory in his head (even those he supposed were long forgotten) and the ability to connect the dots and see patterns so well that he can make millions in the stock market in days. In Limitless NZT helps Morra get his girl back, master languages, learn the piano, become socially admired and desired, and endlessly crafty. (So what if NZT-48 eventually kills you?) The thing with this drug is, it almost seems plausible. people have been experimenting with nootropics for years in the hope that a drug like Limitless NZT exists or can be developed. So, what about NZT in real life, is the real limitless pill out there?
When people hear about the ravings of Modafinil users (when they aren't jealously guarding their secret), it is natural to wonder whether Modalert/Modafinil is the real NZT-48. Before getting carried away with this fictional story, it should be noted that most stories are not as novel as they may appear. You may have read a book in grade school called "Flowers for Algernon," made into a movie and also known as "Charlie" (the full movie is actually available on YouTube). In this early iteration of the magical brain drug theme, Charlie is a man of friendly demeanor but low mental functioning. Given an experimental drug, Charlie becomes increasingly intelligent until his mental powers surpass all around him, and then eventually his new-found capabilities degrade until he's worse off intellectually than before his adventure began. And then there was a later movie, "The Lawnmower Man," with basically the same plot, some primitive virtual reality and computer graphics thrown in for good measure. These stories are not only about our search for an easy fix to boost our all-too-human brains and break away from the pack, but also warnings that declare hard work is, after all, the best game plan. But people miss the warning, as they always do, and lock-on to the glamor and desire to be extraordinary. Can't blame them.
One thing mentioned in Limitless was "it (NZT) works better if you're already smart." That's good, because many people who investigate into and experiment with nootropics -smart drugs/supplements - are doing so to boost an already curious and functioning mind. But alas, their is no clear pill as depicted in the movies (actually, in the book the pill is white, but the movie version looks super cool). Modafinil has its benefits, both for its approved uses and for many off-label, but it will not turn you into a genius if you are average. What it can do, potentially and if you react well with it, is to help you work longer with a laser-like focus. Some people say it does this but at the expense of diminishing creativity. Writing becomes overly-verbose and dry. I don't know; I don't find that to be the case (you be the judge, because I'm writing right now on 150mg of Armodafinil). But this was a long route to get back to the question: "Does Modafinil help with lucid dreaming?" My quick answer: "no."
When I had my first big lucid dream all those years ago, it was a life-changing event and altered the course of my future history. But even if you become an "expert" at lucid dreaming, only a select few naturally-gifted people lucid dream every week, every year. Not everyone will tell you this, but lucid dreaming may be easiest to achieve in your early to mid-twenties, and then become increasingly elusive as your dorso-lateral-prefrontal-cortex recedes away from its prime. And those supplements that definitely help many people induce lucidity (sometimes these are the ONLY thing that seems to work reliably) - well, maybe they make it harder for non-supplement induction afterward (this isn't as bad as it may sound, but I've come across a few comments in this direction). I think this is even one of the things that Inception got right in regards to lucid dreaming. Anyway, Galantamine is the best direct-inducer, although it may make it difficult to fall asleep after taking. Huperzine-A turns out to NOT be a direct-inducer (like 5-HTP, Melatonin, and other supplements, may help induction through REM-Rebound). And the racetams, like Piracetam, Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, Noopept - strong blockers of dream recall. This is not common knowledge yet.
And finally, Modafinil. In my experience, Modafinil does not necessarily lend to heightened dream vividness, recall, or critical thinking in dreams - and thus, is not a magic bullet for lucid dream induction. But it may be huge for LUCID LIVING. Working toward your dreams while awake. Exhausting the day. And who knows, maybe some of you will practice mnemonic exercises for hours straight while on Modafinil that do lead to more lucid dreams. If you find that you do not have enough energy and clear focus during the day, first check your diet, exercise, relationships, goals, and rest patterns, then make intelligent adjustments as needed. If this doesn't work, talk to your doctor. Maybe Modafinil is for you. (By the way, I wish I could sell this stuff. Legally. That's OK, because there are great nootropics that do improve memory, cognitive functioning, reduce anxiety, even give motivation. And they are legal and affordable.)