Best Nootropics For Studying, Memory, and Focus
Nootropics can promote energy, wakefulness, attention, and memory encoding, all of which can maximize study sessions
Using over-the-counter cognitive enhancers to study has exploded in popularity over the past few years
Nootropic herbs such as bacopa monieri have been used for centuries as study aids
As school becomes more competitive, students around the world are turning to cognitive-enhancing nootropics.
These include nootropic supplements that can increase mental performance without the dangerous side effects of traditional study drugs.
Attention Deficit Disorder Drugs
It’s no secret that heavy stimulants such as Adderall have become an epidemic on college campuses.
Although some students legitimately need these medications to manage their ADHD, many students purchase the drugs on the black market to pull all-nighters.
While Adderall abuse may have some benefit in the short term, it can come with some severe downsides.
In The Gut
Natural Over-The-Counter Adderall Alternatives
Anyone who has experienced the dreaded Adderall crash will attest to how terrible these drugs can make you feel when they wear off.
Taking prescription stimulants off-label can cause potentially severe health issues such as:
- Sleep issues
- Panic attacks
- High blood pressure
Instead of dumping excessive amounts of dopamine in your brain, nootropics work through much more subtle pathways.
These supplements can improve your ability to concentrate and retain information while you study, without the health risks. Let’s take a look at the best nootropics for students.
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Best Nootropics For Studying
The Nootropic Multivitamin
- Mind Lab Pro is one of the most potent preformulated nootropic stacks on the market.
- This stack delivers specific nootropics that work together to optimize your brain for studying.
- It includes 11 cognitive-enhancing ingredients that work synergistically to boost your mind's processing speed and working memory while improving neurotransmitter production for laser focus and concentration.
- There's also B-vitamin co-factors to enhance absorbability.
- The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients.
- I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike
Most advanced fully-loaded formula
- Qualia Mind's advanced formula includes 28 nootropic ingredients designed to synergistically enhance your focus, concentration, and memory formation abilities.
- It boosts and efficiently synthesizes acetylcholine while increasing mitochondrial function and cellular energy.
- You also get B-vitamins, vitamins C, and D3 as co-factors to optimize neurotransmitter synthesis.
- The caffeine also adds a boost of mental energy. A caffeine-free version is available too.
- This stack is great for any student who needs a boost in brainpower.
- Caffeinated and non-caffeinated versions are available
Extremely popular synthetic learning and memory aid
Oxiracetam is a synthetic racetam-type nootropic, meaning it modulates the AMPA and NDMA receptors in your brain.
It increases the amount of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which can ultimately help you study better.1Gouliaev AH, Senning A. Piracetam and other structurally related nootropics, Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1994
Oxiracetam has clinically proven benefits for cognition, and many users note that it can increase their attention span, information retention, and overall cognitive processes.
In short, it can help you get “in the zone” while studying.2Fordyce DE, et al. Enhancement of hippocampally-mediated learning and protein kinase C activity by oxiracetam in learning-impaired DBA/2 mice, Brain Res. 1995
This nootropic also has a mild stimulatory effect that can keep you alert and on task. However, it is not nearly as powerful as a drug like Adderall, so you don’t need to worry about crashing later.
Oxiracetam achieves its effects through much more subtle and sustainable means so that you can take it frequently without fear.
One of the most popular nootropics for focus and mood
Aniracetam is a cousin of oxiracetam and is also a racetam. It works through a similar mechanism, but it does have a few distinctions.
Like oxiracetam, many people say that aniracetam is great for stimulated-but-controlled focus and memory. And, there are plenty of clinical studies to back this up.3Shirane M, Nakamura K. Aniracetam enhances cortical dopamine and serotonin release via cholinergic and glutamatergic mechanisms in SHRSP, Brain Res. 2001 4Ingvar M, et al. Enhancement by an ampakine of memory encoding in humans, Exp Neurol. 1997
It is also famous for elevating mood. Feeling an emotional boost could put you in a better headspace to crack open the books and get to work. Keep in mind this is not the manic high of a drug like Adderall, but a more gentle effect.
Aniracetam and oxiracetam are both great choices, but aniracetam might be better if you are looking for a mood boost as well.5Nakamura K, Tanaka Y.. Antidepressant-like effects of aniracetam in aged rats and its mode of action, Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001
World's #1 selling nootropic (and for good reason)
Noopept is very similar to the racetams listed above, in that it’s a synthetic nootropic that can improve studying through the acetylcholine system.
It also stimulates what’s called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF).
BDNF and NGF are the processes that grow and repair new neurons.
Building and repairing neurons is critical for maintaining the health of the brain and forming new memories.
By increasing these abilities, noopept can help you retain whatever you’re learning so you can recall it easier come exam time.
Noopept is also famous for its stimulating effects. It is one of the most potent nootropics out there, increasing the energy even in minimal doses.
Supercharged source of choline for your brain
Citicoline is the perfect addition to your studying stack if you are going to use oxiracetam, aniracetam, or noopept.
Those nootropics can use up the choline stores in your brain, meaning it’s a good idea to supplement with an additional source.
The racetams can then turn it into acetylcholine, improving your focus and memory in the process.
Also, if your brain starts running low on choline, you run the risk of a headache. This pain is obviously something you DON’T want while studying for an important test.
We recommend always combining racetams with something like citicoline for this reason.
The Indian "Supreme God" herb
Bacopa is an all-natural nootropic in use for millennia in Eastern cultures. It may be one of the original study drugs.
There is archeological evidence that monks and scholars used bacopa monnieri to help them memorize prayers and manuscripts thousands of years ago!
Nothing has changed all that much, and Bacopa is still a fantastic herb for hitting the books if you’re a modern student. Modern research also suggests that this nootropic is useful for studying.
Bacopa monnieri contains organic compounds called “bacosides” that may speed up mental processing and increase information retention according to research.
As another bonus for students, bacopa is an adaptogen, meaning it can help the body deal with stress and help the anxiety of studying for exams.
Bacopa can keep your hormones in balance so that you can focus effectively on the work in front of you.
We consider bacopa a must-have for any student looking for a calm and collected focus.
A legal over-the-counter version on Modafinil
Adrafinil is an excellent alternative to Adderall if you are looking to stay up all night cramming.
This nootropic is actually a prodrug of the prescription drug Modafinil meaning that your body turns adrafinil into modafinil, but you do not need a prescription to buy it.
Adrafinil was initially created as an anti-narcoleptic drug to keep people up and alert for long periods.
This nootropic is used by militaries around the world to stay focused during taxing operations, and these effects can translate to studying for exams.
Adrafinil works by mildly stimulating your dopamine receptors (among others), although not nearly to the degree of Adderall.
This stimulation can give you an increase in focus and motivation while you study for long periods.
Adrafinil is legendary for its anti-fatigue effects, and it can help you power through a last-minute crunch.6Battleday RM, Brem AK. Modafinil for cognitive neuroenhancement in healthy non-sleep-deprived subjects: A systematic review, Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 7Milgram NW, et al. Oral administration of adrafinil improves discrimination learning in aged beagle dogs, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2000 8Müller U, et al. Effects of modafinil on non-verbal cognition, task enjoyment, and creative thinking in healthy volunteers, Neuropharmacology. 2013
It is also pretty sustainable, without any serious crash to worry. Be mindful that it can cause insomnia in too high doses or taken too late at night.
Adrafinil has a relatively low side-effect profile for the most part.
Is there a nootropic or nootropic stack for studying you swear by? Questions for our experts?
Let us know in the comments!
About the author:
Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.
As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.
Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.
Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.
You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.