What is Modafinil?

Modafinil is an analeptic and nootropic compound that was first developed in the late 1970s following the invention of benzhydryl sulfinyl compounds. These compounds included Adrafinil, which was used for the first time on experimental basis to treat narcolepsy.  The credit for developing the drug goes to Lafon Laboratories and French neurophysiologist and professor of experimental medicine Michel Jouvet.

The US FDA approved the drug for treating narcolepsy in 1998. The agency approved its use for treating people experiencing sleep disorder caused by shift work and obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea in 2003. The FDA approved this drug even though caffeine and amphetamine had better scores in Stanford Sleepiness Test. In December 2002, it was accorded approval for use in the UK.

The American and British military recommend the use of the drug to keep their soldiers awake and perform at their best for about 40 hours at a stretch. Further, studies have shown that the drug is effective in reducing, even eliminating, the undesirable effects caused to the brain because of short-term sleep deprivation. If you are considering taking the drug, you must talk to your doctor to have an understanding of the side-effects that it can cause.

Modafinil is a known wakefulness agent that is often prescribed by doctors to treat people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. It is sold under trade names Provigil, Modalert, Alertec, Modiodal, and Modvigil, among others.  In France, the drug (trade name: Modiodal) has been prescribed since 1994 and in the US (trade name: Provigil) since 1998.  Modafinil is widely available all over the world without prescription through online pharmacys. It is used by millions for promoting wakefulness, managing ADHD and aiding weight loss as well as its off-shelf use as a smart drug.

Modafinil Benefits and Effects

Though it is still not clear as regards to the effect of the key ingredient in modafinil, it has been observed that the drug raises histamine activity in the body.  It works by stimulating the peripheral sympathetic system and increasing the concentration of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Though its action on the central nervous system has not yet been fully understood, scientists believe that it works on the anterior hypothalamus.

One method suggested involves the stimulation of orexins, a common brain peptide. When orexins are activated, the levels of both dopamine and histamine within the body rise. Research is currently being carried out to understand these processes better.

For people suffering from sleep disorders, the drug improves cognition and wakefulness by increasing clarity of thinking and improving focus. Users of the drug have also reported an improvement in mood as it helps to raise dopamine levels. The drug is known to provide 10 to12 hours of wakefulness. It is, therefore, recommended that it be taken in the morning.

People engaged in shift work must check with their doctors as to when they should take the drug. It has also be seen that users of the drug become more focused and productive. Its effects last longer compared to caffeine.  It enhances and maintains cognitive function. Many students use this drug during competitive exams.

Recommended Dosage…

Recommended dosage is 200 mg per day. It should be taken in the morning, if you are not involved in shift work. It is better avoided after midday. Lower doses, to start with, are recommended when cycling. This decreases the chances of you developing a tolerance.  Reviews claim that 400 mg and even 600 mg per day can be safely tolerated, although there is no evidence that higher doses will increase the effectiveness of the drug.

Possible Side Effects…

Modafinil is generally considered safe and does not cause dangerous side effects, if you follow recommended dosage.  Mild side effects include headache, nausea, weight loss and lack of appetite.

Potential adverse side effects caused by the drug include rapid weight loss, insomnia, nervousness, loss of appetite, hypertension, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting. Consult with your doctor if you experience any of these side effects.

Some medications are known to interact with the drug. Inform your doctor as to what medications you are currently taking so that he/she can guide you properly in the usage of this drug.

Nicole Sanders

Hi, I'm Nicole, chief editor at Nootropics Revealed. Learn more about me and my mission here.