Can you guess whether I was under the influence of Adderall of Vyvanse when I wrote this? Trick question, I [prefer modafinil](/adderall alternatives/).
There's no question that drugs can affect how productive your study sessions are. If you're comparing Vyvanse vs Adderall for studying then you're on the right track, because these medications are some of the most robust concentration enhancers.
The Quick-And-Dirty Answer
- Adderall lasts 6 hours verses 10 hours for Vyvanse. I sometimes prefer Adderall because it affords more control. If I need to study from 6pm - 9pm, I can't take Vyvanse at 6pm because I'll be up all night!
- In general, Vyvanse is the better drug. It's smoother and has fewer cardiovascular side effects (e.g., racing heart).
However, one Redditor points out that:
If you want to study for more than 6 hours, I would recommend Vyvanse over Adderall because it's a far smoother up and down than the either Adderall XR or taking multiple instant-release Adderall.
- Get plenty of sleep beforehand
- Have water and gatorade on hand
- Remove any possible distractions in advance. You'd be surprised how easily you can end up stuck in a Wikipedia spiral for 4 hours nonstop.
- Make sure that you plan ahead for when you want to sleep that night, and dose plenty far ahead to let yourself come down.
- The comedown can sometimes create mild depression with no real basis in how your day went.
Vyvanse vs Adderall For Studying - Why Does It Matter?
If you're prone to inattention and concentration issues, being on the right psychostimulant can make a world of difference. Many students never adjust their dosage or find a medication that compliments their individual neurochemistry. This is a recipe for giving up on medication too soon and never giving it a chance.
Studying takes real mental effort. To really learn, It's not enough to passively read a textbook. High-yield studying requires constant engagement with the course material. Solving practice problems, orally sharing information with peers, creating study sheets for yourself - these are all ways to remain engaged with the course material.
The essence of ADHD and inattention in general is a lack of a sense of urgency about important things. Studying doesn't feel urgent to you; it's not stimulating enough to captivate you. Psychostimulants can help you create a sense of urgency that enables you to actually engage your course material. But it's important to be on the right psychostimulant, at the right dose.
Comparing Vyvanse vs Adderall For Studying
The key difference between these two drugs is that Vyvanse gradually releases dextroamphetamine (the active drug), whereas Adderall instantly realeases both levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall is short-acting and more strongly activates the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system. Vyvanse lasts twice as long, and the onset and offset of effects are smoother.
When it comes to studying, both Vyvanse and Adderall will enhance concentration and improve productivity. Since Adderall has the l-amphetamine isomer in addition to d-amphetamine, it has a little bit more "kick." But this added jolt of energy can also be accompanied with increased anxiety, overstimulation, and harsher cardiovascular side effects. But on the other hand, Adderall gives you more control over the timing of drug. Hence, there are tradeoffs between Vyvanse vs Adderall.
Don't forget that Adderall is more potent than Vyvanse, and so lower doses are needed.
I'm a purest, and so I prefer Vyvanse to Adderall most of the time for studying. I find that the focus conferred by Vyvanse is "cleaner" and more mental. Adderall by comparison can cause a pounding heart and mild hypertension.
For some with individuals ADHD, however, Adderall is simply more effective.
ADHD and substance abuse are highly comorbid (they tend to co-occur). Well, there's some tentative evidence that the type of ADHD that is associated with substance abuse may respond better to Adderall than Vyvanse.
Substance users are often seeking the thrill associated with norepinephrine (noradrenaline) release. In the context of ADHD, norepinephrine signaling may be genetically hypoactive (not active enough) in the brain. Adderall is better able to correct this hypoactive noradrenergic function since it more strongly affects norepinephrine than Vyvanse does.
When comparing Vyvanse vs Adderall for studying, it is also important to acknowledge that lower doses are better. High-dose amphetamine use actually seems to impair learning and memory, whereas lower doses may enhance cognitive function in some people (especially patients suffering from ADHD).
Studying On Psychostimulants
When you're studying on psychostimulants, don't forget to:
Eat some protein every few hours, even if you aren't hungry. Low blood sugar will make an Adderall crash much worse.
Drink plenty of water. Amphetamines have a diuretic effect - they make you want to pee.
Don't use psychostimulants as a substitute for adequate sleep.
Monitor yourself for tunnel vision. Don't be tempted to hyperfocus on minutiae and miss the forest for the trees.