What are some good ways to stay awake without tea or coffee?

A cup of tea (white, green, oolong, black, pu-erh) is a good source of sustained energy. I find the caffeine is less spikey/jittery than coffee and longer lasting.

Also, experiment w/Yerba Mate.

Other than caffeine, what psychoactive compounds exist in coffee and tea?

Theanine and to lesser amounts theobromine (the same psychoactive that's in chocolate) and theophylline.

Theobromine and theophylline both are methylated xanthines and are structurally very similar to caffeine (methyl groups are just positioned differently), sharing the same mild stimulating effect.

Theanine reduces stress and improves mood and cognition, but is not related to the aforementioned.

Side note: Caffeine is metabolized by the liver into paraxanthine, theobromine and theophylline

If I'm trying to amp up with caffeine (e.g., coffee), is it good or bad to have other drinks (water, etc.) in between?

I'd say it would make no difference whatsoever, but I have no data to support that.

Theoretically, if you drink enough water, you might lower your blood concentration of caffeine, but realistically I doubt you'd be able to do that to the extent that there'd a measurable difference in stimulation, assuming functioning kidneys.

Edit:  Contrary to the other question answerers, caffeine is not actually a diuretic, especially not for regular caffeine drinkers.  It can be a bladder irritant, but not a diuretic (so you'll feel the urge to urinate more often, but urine volume is not actually increased).  Keith Adams posted a link to a good article summing it up at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/0…

Red Bull only has ~80mg of caffeine, yet most people will tell you it has a lot more, so how does it work? Black tea has about 100mg, a cup of coffee is 80-200mg, and Starbucks Chai Tea Latte has 100mg. What's the secret ingredient/interaction?

Expectation certainly plays a large role here. Most people drink Red Bull in the context of intentionally trying to get themselves pumped up and energized. Accordingly, they become more acutely aware of its stimulant effects and are more likely to observe or report them. Coffees and teas tend to be more frequently consumed in the context of habituated daily routine or socialization in relaxing environments (coffee shops, dinner parties, not extreme sports events or nightclubs).

These types of effects are indirectly related to marketing, in so much as marketing influences people's decisions about when to drink Red Bull and when to drink tea or coffee, but the role of expectation in perceived subjective experience is quite separate and has been scientifically studied. For instance, studies have shown that people given a "smart drink" before an examination do actually perform better, even when a control beverage with no special properties is substituted for the actual product.

An 8oz Red Bull also contains 27g of sugar. Depending upon what size and type of coffee or tea one orders, and how it is prepared, it may contain significantly more or less sugar than that.

Red Bull also contains a variety of other compounds, including taurine and B vitamins, which are generally present across "energy" product lines. I'm unsure to what degree their efficacy has been scientifically proven.

It's also worth considering what else is not in Red Bull that may be present in teas or coffees, potentially inhibiting their stimulant effects. Despite their caffeine content, many teas are noted to produce calming effects.

What are the potential negative effects of long-term stimulant use?

For now, I won't discuss tolerance/addiction here (which could be a concern), since it's reversible and also because it varies from person to person (so I pretty much treat it as another side effect). In any case, it probably won't be a huge problem in ADHD-relevant dosages (although it could be if someone is abusing the drugs)

With all stimulants, there are possible cardiac effects (because the heart pumps harder and faster). But unless you're abusing cocaine, these are usually only a concern if you're already susceptible to heart disease. In most children, this is of little concern – see ADHD drugs do not raise risk of serious heart conditions in children, study shows

Regarding Adderall/Ritalin use – I've described some potential negative effects  here: What are the long term effects of Adderall, Dexedrine, or Ritalin use? (basically, with neurotoxicity, there could definitely be some negative effects with Adderall but not with Ritalin)

In fact, one end result of dopamine neurotoxicity is Parkinson's – the risk of which is increased among methamphetamine users – see http://www.sciencedaily.com/rele…. However, meth users destroy *far* more dopamine neurons than any person on Adderall could ever do (meth is far more neurotoxic than amphetamine, and the doses are usually far higher), so I don't think Adderall users need to fear a significantly higher risk of Parkinson's.

Regarding caffeine, it seems more "good" than "bad". See What are the long-term effects of caffeine on the brain?. Unless you're a slow caffeine metabolizer, in which case the cardiac effects could be more of a concern.

Regarding modafinil, it could possibly cause amyloid-beta plaque buildup if you regularly use it to pull all-nighters (see http://www.longecity.org/forum/t…). If you don't use it to pull all-nighters though, then I don't think it has any long-term negative effects (though this is still a huge unknown as modafinil is still a new drug)

How prevalent is stimulant usage in the tech industry?

There is definitely a subculture of performance-enhancing drug use (on top of the general pot use which seems common in California in general).  I would estimate at least 10-20% of hardcore techies, in the 20-30yo bracket, in the bay area, do more than pot.

My friends use names of programming languages, tools, etc. as "code words" for drugs, so we can openly discuss them in front of other people (e.g. in the office).  "I need 30 concurrent mod_perl instances", where mod_perl is adderall, is a request for pills.   emacs is cocaine.  php is nitrous oxide.  methamphetamine is C.  It was fun constructing fairly ornate double-entendres about this, such as a build dependency on mod_perl (the drug) for a php (the programming language) project.

We used drugs both for performance enhancement (and for "normal performance" when otherwise impaired, like not having enough sleep), but also for recreational use.

What is your favorite mental performance-enhancing substance?

In no particular order: Methylphenidate, amphetamine salts (adderall), modafinil, phenylethylamine, deprenyl

EDIT: My preferred substance is one of the more safer available as long as you keep the dose low, and it is OTC: Phenylethylamine – it's a component in chocolate.

What is the most effective coffee drinking schedule?

Studies done on performance after caffeine intake have shown that the benefits wear off, for most people, in 4-6 hours.  If you have a cup of coffee and 8:00 am, you will need to re-dose at around 1:00 pm and again at 6:00pm.

You will need to avoid caffeine for a minimum of 4 hours before sleep and depending on your metabolism, you may still have the effects on board for as long as 6 hours.

This post gives a good synopsis of how caffeine improve attention: http://www.primarilyinattentivea…

Tess Messer

What non-prescribed stimulants are legal to obtain in California?

  • Caffeine
  • Phenylpiracetam
  • Amfonelic Acid
  • Ethylphenidate
  • Synephrine
  • Bromantane

If you ingest these, do so with care. A quick summary of the substances I listed: Some are research chemicals, some are prescription drugs in Russia which are legal here, some are health supplements that you could expect to find at any gnc or vitamin shoppe type of store.

How does one stay up all night partying?

I've put in a number of strong performances by sticking pretty closely to the following playbook:

  • Be well rested. I average 9+ hours of sleep in general, so I'm usually carrying very little sleep debt.
  • Healthy dinner. Have a solid and filling meal, but avoid excessively heavy foods.
  • Disco nap. Grabbing a couple hours sleep somewhere between 10pm and 1am can go a long way.
  • B vitamins. I'll often have an Emergen-C just before going out, around midnight. Besides lots of C, these also contain B vitamins.
  • Caffeine. One 8oz Red Bull around 1am. No larger or the sugar crash will subsequently win out. No more caffeine for the rest of the night; re-amping on caffeine is a losing battle.
  • Avoid alcohol. I'll have 2-3 drinks if I'm in the mood for it, but more than that is a recipe for an early, sleepy retirement. This definitely varies by individual.
  • Snack. I'm partial to a Clif Bar, usually around 4-5am. Another one at 7-8am when going deep. Go out for a hilarious group breakfast if carrying things on into the next day.
  • Embrace silliness. Sleep deprivation can create a pretty wondrous state where things start seeming more humorous and magical than they would otherwise. I really enjoy this, so there's a reward for making it there (for me this typically becomes noticeable around 7-8am).
  • Techno. You need to be doing something really interesting while you're awake. For me, this is almost always techno and dancing. Otherwise, constant conversation is a must.

Stimulants are obviously very effective for many people, but I find that by avoiding drugs I can often outlast folks who hit very predictable walls and crash.