Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

How To Tell If Nootropics Are Working? (The Answer)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico | Co-Founder & Marketing Director
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: March 2, 2023
We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guides. By ordering products anonymously and getting a group of independent testers, we are able to get first-hand experience and provide data-driven recommendations. Learn more.

An increasing number of my clients and readers are taking nootropics for cognitive performance and to help them with their fitness journeys.

But one question I regularly get is what you should expect to feel when you start taking nootropics and how soon it might happen.

The answer isn’t all that straightforward, so I teamed up with a nutritionist and expert in nootropics to see what scientific studies have to say about what to look out for with different ingredients.

The good news is that most people typically don’t have to wait long for such a supplement to work.

Quick Summary

  • Nootropic supplements are designed to mitigate cognitive decline as well as improve mood, motivation, and focus.
  • Some of these nootropics contain stimulants like caffeine that can have a more immediate impact, but they could also make you jittery.
  • Some of the more effective ingredients might take a few days to be noticed, but if you look out for a few mental changes, you’ll know you’re onto a winner.

How Do You Know If Nootropics Are Working? 

Top view of holding pills

You’ll know if nootropics are working by watching out for improvements in mental energy, increased motivation, better focus, and less brain fog.

Not all of these signs might happen all at once because a natural nootropic might take a few days to build up.

While smart drugs can have a very fast reaction time, such drugs also come with some side effects that are not so pleasant.

And you should never take prescription substances without first consulting with a doctor.

Ultimately, you’ll need to keep a journal for a week before you start taking a nootropic and write down a subjective measure of your focus, mood, and motivation levels [1].

Then continue with the journal after starting a nootropic stack and see if you can honestly see a difference.

What Cognitive Function Do They Support? 

Man holding light bulb to represent ideas and brain boost

Nootropic supplements can support several cognitive functions ranging from focus, motivation, and mood to stress improvements.

You’ll generally hear companies highlight cognitive performance when it comes to their nootropics, and here is what that might actually feel like.

1. Improved Brain Energy

One nootropic ingredient that can turn up the amount of brain energy you have for mental performance is creatine [2].

My personal experience with this, and having tested many different nootropics, is that the reaction time for creatine is typically about 30-40 minutes.

It feels like you gain a lot of clarity and focus for one task, similar to what caffeine does, but without the jitters.

2. Reduced Stress Levels

Another important feature of cognitive health is a reduction in stress levels.

And L-theanine can have a significant impact on reducing stress [3].

What you should notice after a few days is that typical situations or times of day when you feel stressed just seem to go a lot easier without feeling overwhelmed.

Related: Do Nootropics Help With Stress

3. Lower Anxiety Levels

We have also seen great effectiveness for mental performance that reduces the feeling of anxiety.

One ingredient in particular that has scientific evidence to help with anxiety is Phosphatidylserine [4].

“Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an amino acid derivative compound that is fat-soluble and found in high amounts in the brain, where it contributes to cognitive functioning.”
- Kamal Patel, MPH, MBA at

The great thing is that it doesn’t come with the negative effects that people might get with prescription pills.

4. Improved Mood

A person in good mood showing an okay hand sign

When it comes to improving your mood with a nootropic, the reaction time can vary a bit.

Our experience has been that it can take anywhere from 5 to 30 days to notice the effect.

One natural nootropic ingredient with a high efficacy rating is Ginkgo Biloba, which is an herbal substance that has been linked to improvements in mood and happiness [5].

5. Better Focus

Healthy people don’t have to resort to a smart drug to gain better focus.

With a good dose of Lion’s Mane Mushroom, you can achieve solid improvements in focus, as scientists have found that it can influence neurotransmitters in a positive way [6].

You should notice this after a few days in the sense that you won’t feel distracted by things around you when you’re trying to get some work or study done.

6. Great Motivation

This is something that quite a few nootropic supplements do very well, and you could start noticing evidence of this within the first day.

Alpha GPC is one ingredient that has the best efficacy for motivation improvement [7].

You should notice that you feel more positive about things like getting work done and heading to the gym.


Will Nootropics Keep You Awake?

Yes, certain nootropics can keep you awake, especially if they contain caffeine. However, there are great alternatives that boost cognitive ability without feeling jittery or becoming insomniac.

Do Nootropics Clear Brain Fog?

Yes, nootropic supplements can help to clear brain fog. Taking such a product first thing in the morning instead of a cup of coffee can boost your alertness and affect how quickly you’re able to start with effective work.

Get The Best Nootropic Results Within Days

The big difference between a lot of these supplements is the quality of the chosen ingredients. Some products can take weeks to work fully, and you might only feel mild effects.

That’s why we have spent months testing dozens of different supplements to come up with a list of recommended options:

Order your first supply today and see how quickly you will feel the effects on your focus, motivation, and mood.


Was this article helpful?

About The Author

You May Also Like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *