Getting a highly paid job in Silicon Valley might not be all it's cracked up to be. Loads of workers are pumping themselves up on substances considered "super Ritalin" to work the long days, while others are too busy to cook or dine out that they're mixing protein shakes to get by.
Nootropics or nutraceuticals are the new staple non-FDA-approved "brain enhancers" in the sunny California work ghetto — as well as Wall Street — that purportedly boost productivity and perception, reports the Daily Beast.
Some are simply nutritional supplements made from food substances, while others can exist in a nether world — legal in Colombia, but illegal when brought into the US — while others might be downright dangerous.
When a Beast reporter sampled the prescription-strength smart drug Modafinil in Colombia (a US prescription equivalent is Provigil) it seemed to work; he was picking Spanish more easily, seeing more clearly.
Users turn to social networking sites to seek information on their "stacks" — their cocktail of supplements — or to help answer questions about the best combinations for different needs.
The problem is that nootropics rest in a regulatory void where consumers can be fleeced — or even harmed. An added issue is that workers often feel they have to take nootropics just to compete.
"If you're working in a start up, you're working maybe 10, 12 hours a day. That leaves me about five or six hours a night of sleep," 24-year-old tech worker Dennis Qian told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't want to make compromises. Sleep is great, but if I can maintain my performance during the day ... with just a few supplements like nootropics, I'd gladly do that."
At least he eats — maybe. The New York Times found a crew of dedicated Silicon Valley techies who have been skipping the mundane task of eating as much as possible and instead mixing up protein shakes to save time and get back to work.
"It just removes food completely from my morning equation up until about 7 pm," explained one workaholic.