When it comes to changing your mindset to change your life, you probably think of things like ‘the gratitude attitude’ or maybe meditation. You’re probably aware of mindfulness and CBT.

But what if you could simply flick a switch and completely change the way that your brain works? What if you could become smarter and cleverer overnight? Wouldn’t that be the ideal?

This is what we see in the film Limitless. The main character Eddie Mora takes a single tablet and suddenly gains access to the latent power of his brain. He becomes smarter, wittier, more charming, more creative – and in no time at all he has written a best-selling novel, made a huge amount of money on the stock market, and run for political office.

This is what science would call a ‘nootropic’ and the shocking part is that they’re real…

What Are Nootropics and Do They Work?

Of course, the reality is nothing like the movies. No pill can make you smarter. But what some nootropics claim to be able to do, is to make you a little more alert, to boost your memory, and perhaps to help your motivation. These work in a variety of ways and they take many forms. For instance, one of the most popular types is something called modafinil.

Modafinil is a drug used to treat narcolepsy but it has also been used by fighter pilots and top CEOs to help them get less sleep and work longer and harder. This works by affecting a neurochemical called orexin, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle.

Others might work by stimulating our fight-or-flight response through dopamine or adrenaline. Others meanwhile appear to enhance brain plasticity to increase learning. Some simply give the brain a bit of an energy boost to help you feel less tired.

So, do they work? The answer is simple: it depends! Some nootropics work well and really can give you a boost in focus. Others don’t have much effect, while others still might actually be bad for you and cause headaches or even addiction!

The key is to find the best ones by reading around and doing the research. But suffice it to say that normally the best ones are the natural ones and the ones with the more mild impact on the way you feel. Stick to these and you’ll reduce negative side effects – but just know that nothing can turn you into a genius overnight.