Nootropics (Modafinil etc.) in Hedge Funds

Is it common for hedge fund analysts/PMs to take modafinil and/or other performance enhancing drugs? It would be interesting to hear more about your experiences with the level of usage and the pros/cons of sustained use over a hedge fund career.

It would make sense to me that there is definitely some usage in the industry in order to maintain high levels of productivity year round - given the high level of performance/results demanded.

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Comments (23)

  • Analyst 2 in HF - EquityHedge
May 26, 2021 - 6:12am

i was doing adderall for a bit during internship at a fund & it did not end well 

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  • Analyst 2 in HF - EquityHedge
May 26, 2021 - 6:22am

it does for a bit then it fucks your sleep schedule & makes you tweak out to focus on irrelevancies (eg obsessing over lease accounting adjustments in historical #s instead of understanding trajectory of new product's impact on incremental revenue over next few quarters, shit like that) 

  • Trader in S&T - Comm
May 26, 2021 - 7:28am

Modafinil easy to get and does the trick.  I only do half a pill first thing in the morning or i'm still a bit too wired come night time.

  • Trader in S&T - Comm
May 26, 2021 - 7:30am

Too expand on this... you'd get better focus results from Ritalin or Adderall (I used to use both back in university) but they're both too addictive to use sustainably long term in my opinion. Modafinil is a very good substitute in that it still has focusing effects (although not as good) without the addictive qualities. 

  • Prospect in HF - Other
May 26, 2021 - 7:31am

That makes sense, thanks. Do the effects wear off if you do it everyday, or do you typically cycle it? Also, do you notice a big uptick in productivity/work performance when taking it as opposed to when you don't take it? What are the general pros/cons? 

  • Trader in S&T - Comm
May 26, 2021 - 7:37am

I've been using a long time (few years now) and haven't noticed any substantial wear off (if i did i could up to 1 per day instead of a half). I don't have a consistent cycle per say but i might skip a friday or monday etc i dont really need to be too productive. I do think it can mess with my sleep if i take it too late, so if i forgot to have first thing in the morning i dont have it later on.  

Pros: cheap, accessible, non-addictive, helps focus and definitely keeps awake
Cons: maybe focus too much on one thing at a time, keeps awake, not as "effective" as ritalin/adderall

May 26, 2021 - 10:22am

If you're generally prone to skin allergies (e.g eczema), Mod can cause flare-ups since it floods your system with histamines. I still use it on and off but I have to be careful by doing half/quarter dosages with sufficient days between them.

  • Research Analyst in HF - Other
May 26, 2021 - 1:23pm

tequila shots and beers + late night whiskies tend to be my goto nootropics

May 28, 2021 - 2:58am

Not in HF nor have I worked for one but recommend just staying hydrated and not going out nights before work days so you're sharp upon waking up. I enjoy my stimulants but only weekends as the next day is a disaster from a mental clarity perspective. Even if I took an addy one workday I feel like shit the next (unless you take another one) so if you're not leaning on it rn, try not to get on as it can be a slippery slope. This is probably the most square answer you'll see here but honestly it has worked wonders for me in IB, PE, and the current Management role I'm in now.

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